Tokutaro “Kakunen” Tsuruoka 
Untitled, Industry in the Desert
Watercolor on Paper, 1944

Art of Circumstance: Art and Artifacts Created by Japanese Americans Incarcerated During WWII

Tokutaro “Kakunen” Tsuruoka 
Untitled, Twilight Landscape
Watercolor on Paper, 1944

​​​​November 5, 2016 - April 30, 2017


Art of Circumstance  displays the inventive and creative spirit of the Japanese Americans incarcerated in relocation camps across the Southwest during World War II. After Executive Order 9066 passed on February 19, 1942, thousands of Japanese Americans had to pack what few belongings they were allowed and forced to spend the next four years of their lives behind a guarded fence.  Since the incarceration camps did not provide items of convenience such as tables and chairs, residents used scraps and found materials to make everyday objects that we take for granted. Most of the people constructing furniture or crafting art pieces had no prior training or had ever created art pieces before their incarceration. Due to the limited amount of materials provided by the camps, nothing went to waste. From cigarette cartons to loosened floorboards, they reused everything to help dilute the reality of their incarceration and create beautiful and functional works of art. The art and artifacts displayed in Art of Circumstance include objects on loan from the Arizona Heritage Center, Arizona Historical Society in Tempe, Arizona who also provided the museum with a rare color video of the Poston incarceration camp from the beginning of construction to when the first Japanese Americans arrived in Poston for processing. 


Baseball Behind Barbed Wire

January 22, 2017 1:30 pm  


Commemoration of Executive Order 9066

February 18, 2017