In 2015, Setsuko Winchester hand-pinched 120 yellow tea bowls, each representing 1,000 individuals who were rounded up and removed following FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the relocation and detainment of more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the western United States. Traveling to some of the most unforgiving landscapes of this country, Winchester arranged her tea bowls at the remnants of these former US concentration camps in an effort to illuminate this discomfiting, and often overlooked, chapter in American history.
Her exhibit, Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project, visits FDR Four Freedoms State Park from Friday, April 12-Sunday, April 14, and invites visitors to question what it means to be American, who is deserving of human rights, and why some histories get erased.
Exhibition is free and open to the public, 9am-7pm. It will be on display at the Park from Friday, April 12th to Sunday, April 14th.
Join the artist, Setsuko Winchester, for an artist talk and tour on her Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project at FDR Four Freedoms State Park on Sunday, April 14 at 2pm. Winchester will discuss the history behind Executive Order 9066 and Asian-American exclusionism, her impetus for creating this project, and her journey spanning 16,000 miles across the United States to photograph her tea bowls in situ at the sites of former US concentration camps. In addition to providing visitors with a better understanding of this chapter in American history that indelibly changed the lives of thousands of Americans, this artist-led talk seeks to facilitate discussion around what it means to be an American, who is excluded and why, and how we can learn from our history.
Talk is free, but registration is required (link coming soon), and audience size is limited. Participants should plan to meet at the entrance of FDR Four Freedoms State Park near the gatehouse.
About Setsuko Winchester
Setsuko Winchester was born in New York City and has been dabbling in ceramics and the arts her whole life. Her work as a journalist began after graduating from the Graduate School of Journalism at NYU in the early 90’s. She started first as an editor and producer at WNYC in NY City and then at NPR in Washington, DC for Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation. In 2006, she moved to Western Massachusetts to pursue a life-long interest in ceramics and the visual arts. Together with her writer husband, she’s traveled the world while also embracing the rural life, learning how to make organic cider, harvesting honey, raise chickens and helping to found the local newspaper in her town of Sandisfield, MA.
In 2012, after the death of her mother, she began looking into her own history and into the history of Japanese Americans and Asian peoples in the United States. Her latest project is a work of conceptual art that incorporates photography, ceramics and history.
It’s called the Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project in which the artist took 120 yellow tea bowls to all ten US WWII concentration camps where 120,000 US citizens of Japanese ethnicity and their parents were imprisoned during the war. In 2016, the FDR Library and Museum invited Winchester to bring her project to Hyde Park to create a site-specific image on the grounds of the former President’s home. The following year in February of 2017, six of her images were featured as a contemporary take on the Four Freedoms for the FDR Library and Museum’s 75th anniversary of FDR’s signing of Executive Order 9066.
For more information about her project you can check out:
You might also want to check out some of the Civil Wrongs, passed by the US Supreme Court, not just the Civil Rights and how they have had and can still have profound effects on our society.
“A Jap’s a Jap – it makes no difference whether he is an American citizen or not.” - Lt. General John L. DeWitt in charge of the US Army’s Western Defense Command 1942.
“I am determined that if they have one drop of Japanese blood in them, they must go to a camp.” - Colonel Karl Bendetsen, Military Lawyer for U.S. Army, 1942 (regarding children at an orphanage).
“A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched — so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents — grows up to be a Japanese, not an American.” - LA Times Editorial Feb. 1942 about “Our American-born Japanese.”
“Executive Order 9066 was not justified by military necessity…the broad historical causes that shaped these decisions were race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” - 1983 Conclusion of The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) inPersonal Justice Denied, a 467-page government report on the constitutionality of EO 9066.