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Renwick Gallery Displays Crafts Made By Japanese In Internment Camps

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By Asma Khalid

A new temporary exhibit at the Renwick Gallery features art made by Japanese in internment camps.

Delphine Hirasuna was born the year after her mother was released from an internment camp in Arkansas. But, like many Japanese Americans, her parents never spoke much about the camp.

Years later, Hirasuna discovered a treasure trove of handicrafts made by people in the camps.

"I think it was their way of keeping their spirits up, because for the most part they knew they had lost everything," says Hirasuna.

She found teapots, toys, and chairs made out of scrap wood. She put it all together for the Renwick. Hirasuna is the curator for the Renwick’s "Art of Gaman" exhibit.

'Gaman' means bearing the unbearable with patience. Scott Miura's grandmother was in a camp, and the exhibit brings back mixed emotions.

"Knowing that these people had to be put into these types of conditions, but seeing the opposite mindset of making the best out of it that they could during that time, shows us a story of survival," says Miura.

The exhibit is on display through January 2011.

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