Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Project - WWII Japanese American Internment

This is an ongoing project that will be updated as new work is completed.  Target date for completion is 2017.

 Chris, Justin and Jan Hopkins are starting a new family project
to document 3 generations affected by Executive Order 9066 signed on February 19, 1942 by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  This order displaced Japanese Americans on the Pacific Coastline.  They were ordered to pack up and move inland to relocation camps. 

The family story begins in the early 1900s when the Itami, Takahashi and Kikoshima family's immigrated to Seattle, Washington and became citizens of the United States.  They prospered  and survived the great depression.

"Our Family has a rich cultural background, one that I did not know about.  Because of WWII and the internment of my family, I grew up not knowing a lot of my Japanese heritage,  I grew up in Nampa, Idaho, where my Mom and Dad settled after being released from the  Minidoka Internment Camp."    Jan (Itami) Hopkins
  A with  lifelong interest in WWII history, it was Chris,  who was fired up to do this project to pay tribute to Japanese American's who were incarcerated during World War II.  

Graduating from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with honors, Chris began his career as an Illustrator, illustrating movie posters, advertising ads, book covers, album covers and editorial art garnering a Grammy  and Cleo nomination and Addy awards for excellence.  After moving from Los Angeles back to the Northwest, Chris career eventually transitioned from illustration to commissioned artist beginning with series of 13 Northwest Coast historical large scale paintings, 40+ portraits of contemporary NW Coast Artists and 7 contemporary paintings depicting current Native events for private collections.   In 2004, he was invited to become an Air Force Artist, documenting humanitarian efforts by the Air Force.  With the encouragement from the Director of the Air Force Program, he created historical series on the Tuskegee Airmen that is currently traveling across the country. 
(see more about Chris @ Chris Hopkins Art)


"My entire family, Grandparents, Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins were taken from their homes on the West Coast (Seattle and Los Angeles) and were incarcerated in Minidoka, Manzanar and Tule Lake Relocation Camps.  I was not aware of this until I was a teen and my mother handed me a magazine with an article about the incarceration and said to me "this is what we went through".  It was never mentioned to me until that time.  I cried.  It not only affected the two generations before me, but my generation whose cultural identity was denied and stripped from our sense of self, due to the Immigration and Incarceration."

Full time fiber artist Jan Hopkins has built her career and reputation on creating sculptural fiber art with an array of alternative natural materials such as citrus peels, melon peels, sturgeon skin, silver dollar pods and lotus pod tops.  She has developed a way of construction that combines sewing, looping and abstract coiling to create narrative figurative vessels in a style of her own.  Internationally recognized, her work is exhibited in fine craft galleries and museums across the country, she has been awarded the  "2012 Samuel and Patricia Smith People's Choice Award" at the Bellevue Arts Museum, 2015 Fellowship Award and 2 Grants for Projects by the Artist Trust in Seattle.  
(see more of Jan's work @ Jan Hopkins Art)

Photo by Kenta Thomas

Justin Hopkins was born (1986) with the heart of an artist.  He was mentored by his Dad (Chris Hopkins) working side-by-side at the age of six.  By the time he was fourteen and in Middle School, he garnered corporate advertising assignments, drawing conceptual designs and illustrating.  After High School, he immediately moved to Los Angeles, California to work with the legendary Charles White III, working as a designer and conceptual artist for Olio, Inc. for 5 years.  He started a freelance art business and began creating works for Google, Redbull, Wired-Magazine Pabst and ESPN.  He is now living in Brooklyn, NY pursuing a career as a fine artist showing in Galleries in New York, Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.

(See more of Justin's work at Rarebit Projects)


"The Plight of the Elderly" - 16"x20", Oil on Panel, Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

Statement:  Once a notice of evacuation was posted, a representative of each family would visit a control center where the family was registered and issued a number, told when and where to report and what could be taken along  The numbering process was particularly offensive to the Japanese.  The Japanese American citizens literally had no  idea where they were going.  All of the assembly centers were selected as temporary housing with expediency in mind while the relocation camps were being constructed.   Many centers were located on previous race tracks and fairgrounds.  The horse stalls and animal shelters were converted to housing facilities.  The years of exclusion were frequently punctuated by financial troubles; trying to look after their property without being on the scene when difficulties arose; lacking a source of income to meet tax, mortgage and insurance payments.  At wars end, the recently freed elderly Japanese Americans who, in large part, had lost all in the midst of racial hysteria, had neither youth or resources to rebuild their lives.

"Frozen in Time", 2014, 16"x16"x1.5", Maple leaves, red birch bark, cantaloupe peel, weathered hydrangea petals, lunaria seed pod centers, center bark, ostrich shell beads and waxed linen, Jan Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved.


Statement:  On February 9, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive order 9066, ordering the internment of Japanese Americans.  My family and all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast were ordered to leave their homes and relocate to internment camps.  Their lives were frozen in time, not knowing when or if they would return to their homes.

"We are the Enemy", 16"x20", oil on canvas, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  One week after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered a moving address on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights.  He said such inspiring words as "We will not, under any threat or in the face of danger, surrender the guarantees of liberty our forefathers framed for us in our Bill of Rights."  It was a little more than two months later that the President signed Executive Order 9066, setting into motion what has been recognized as the worst violation of constitutional rights in the Nation's history.

"All American Boy" - oil on board 18"x24", Chris Hopkins© 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  Almost overnight patriotic American citizens were turned upon by their friends, neighbors and fellow countrymen.  An entire sect of loyal American society had been reduced to a derogatory three letter word.  Mirrored in the face of this boy is bewildered as he will be soon taken from the place he has known his entire life.

"Left Behind" - 18"x 24, oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2014. all rights reserved

Statement:  Allowed only one piece of luggage and with such little time to pack, a great many valuable and cherished items had to be left.  In many cases, children's toys had to be sacrificed to make luggage space for clothing and necessary items.  Even though the left behind items were to be returned at the end of the incarceration, many were not.  Toy loan centers were set up in camps such as Manzanar to supply the children with play items.

“Camp Harmony”  22"X 28"Oil on Board, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  The Puyallup Assembly Center, better known as the euphemism Camp Harmony, a name coined by an Army public-relations officer during construction, was situated at the Western Washington fairgrounds in the heart of Puyallup.

"I Am An American". Oil on panel, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights 

Statement:  From a sign hung in front of an Oakland, California store on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  "This land is your land, this land is my land...this land was made for you and me" - Woody Guthrie

"Rolling Toward the Unknown" - 22"X 28", oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  Loyal American citizens were rounded up and taken from their homes, their communities, ways of life and sent to harsh and unknown destinations.  They faced a new life of incarceration that was predicated on their ancestry and void of due process under American law.

“Ojiichan” –   22"X 28"oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  On the morning of March 30, 1942, army trucks appeared at Island Nikkei homes to transport families to the Eagledale ferry dock where the Kehloken waited to take them to Seattle.  In Seattle they would board a train. With curtains drawn, they rode through the night. On April 1, they transferred from the train to buses and traveled through the California desert.  They arrived at a desolate piece of land with tar papered buildings, the Manzanar Assembly Center (later the Manzanar Relocation Center.)  The Bainbridge Islanders were the first families to arrive. For weeks they had no sewer system and the facilities were very crude. 

“Poston”, 14” x 18", Oil on Board, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  With little notice, Americans of Japanese ancestry were gathered up and ordered to leave their homes, businesses and friends to be incarcerated without trial. They could only take what they could carry and were moved to 10 internment camps spread across some of the nation's most inhospitable terrains.  Poston was a hard labor camp located in the inhospitable Arizona Desert.

"An Uncertain Future" - 22"X 28"oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  It seemed that no person of Japanese ancestry was above suspicion, even expectant mothers.  Women and children, have increasingly been targeted during the wars with profound impact upon the health of mothers and babies.

“With Liberty and Justice for All" - 22"x28", oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved,

Statement:  The young children who were interned with their families knew little to nothing about national loyalty. Their minds were occupied with thoughts and desires that are common to kids of their age. As American children despite their circumstances they would start their day by pledging allegiance to the flag and to the nation for which it stands.

"Life Behind the wire, Bon Odori" - Oil on board 22"x28", Chris Hopkins ©  2014, all rights reserved

Statement:  When the Issei and Kibei (U.S. born and Japan-educated) women came to the United States, most of them brought with them at least one kimono.  There was really not much opportunity to wear them and so with Bon Odori, this now gave them a chance to wear their beautiful kimonos.

“Life Behind the Wire”(sumo wrestlers) - Oil on board, 22"X28", 2014, Chris Hopkins ©  2014, all rights 

Description:  Undaunted, the people sought to find a sense of normal life amidst their forced confinement.

"In Spite of Everything Else", 18"x24", oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

Statement:  In support of the war effort, an internee works in Manzanar's camouflage net factory, 1942

"Red Flower, The Liberation of Italy" - oil on panel, 18"x24", Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

“We were given a job to do and we did it.” 

Statement:  Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all of one color. America stands unique in the world, the only country not founded on race, but on a way--an ideal.  The Japanese American soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team set about to prove their loyalty to this country and, in so doing, saved the lives of hundreds of men, liberated countless villages throughout France and Italy leaving their inhabitants with renewed love and respect for the American Soldier, and brought honor to this country, themselves, and their families. Their lessons in loyalty, humbleness, courage and resolve still resonate in our society today.
"A Study in Contrasts" - 18"x24", oil on panel, Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

Quote from an unidentified Army Officer concerning the round up and evacuation of the folks on Bainbridge Island, Washington, March, 1942

"Why these people (the Island Japanese) have completely won us over.  Do you know what they did the first day we arrived?  They sent four or five of their young people down to help us get acquainted with the Island.  They actually helped our men post the evacuation notices.  Having to move these people is one of the toughest things this outfit has ever been told to do."

 "The Long Goodbye" - Oil on board 18"X24",Chris Hopkins ©  2015, all rights reserved

Statement:  A much often repeated occurrence of a soldier and his girl as saying goodbye prior to his deployment

"All of us can't stand in the [internment] camps until the end of the war.  Some of us have to go to the front.  Our record on the battlefield will determine when you will return and how you will be treated.  I don't know if I'll make it back." - Technical Sergeant Abraham Ohama, Company "F", 442nd RCT, killed in action 10/20/1944

 "Respite" Oil on board 22"X28",Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

"...I cannot say, however, that their 'go for broke' service has ever been adequately honored, but I know that any objective appraisal of the record of this unit will place it high in the annals of our military history...Whether in France, Italy or elsewhere, I know of no units in the American Army that fought and persevered more gallantly than did those Nisei companies and battalions." - John J. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War

Family Stories

As part of the Japanese American Internment project, we are covering our family's forced evacuation and incarceration and it's affects, on three generations.

"A Lasting Kindness" Oil on board  22"X28", Chris Hopkins ©  2015, all rights reserved

Statement:  As an infant, Jan Doi and her parents were transferred to the Tule Lake Segregation Center in northeastern California. Jan's father Jim Doi was now labeled a "No No Boy" as a consequence of his negative answers given on questions 27 and 28 of the loyalty questionnaire and was thus deemed a "disloyal". Jan was cute and endearing as she toddled around the camp. Her fellow internees found her hard to resist and would react by giving her candies and treats. This happened so frequently that her concerned mother, Amy Doi hung a sign on her that read, "Please Do Not Feed Me." 

In 1944 the Doi Family were released from Tule Lake and the family relocated in Spokane WA. Jan was now a precocious four year old whose entire world had been defined by the barbed wire borders of the Tule Lake Relocation Camp. Having seen only those of Japanese ancestry and the Caucasian camp guards, Jan was completely unaware of the many people in a now much larger world. While on a public bus in Spokane Jan met an African American man for the first time. To the horror of her mother she told the man, "Washy Face" translation, "You should wash your face!" The very kind man smiled and told her," Honey, this doesn't wash off." In a further act of kindness he gave the little girl a quarter.

"The All American Boy II", 22"x28", oil on board,Chris Hopkins ©  2015, all rights reserved

Statement:  This piece shows one of my favorite people, Dyke Itami, a celebrated Seattle athlete and scholar.  During the forced evacuation, much was taken from he and his family with absolutely no due process yet he emerged positive and successful.  As a loyal US citizen of Japanese ancestry, he faced enormous racial struggles upon his release from the camp.  With good humor, hard work and his positive attitude, he overcame those challenges.  He prospered and remained a patriotic American until the end of his days, thus serving as an inspiration to a great many people.  
At the end of the incarceration, he and June moved to Nampa, Idaho and bought a farm.  He was proud that his ancestors were farmers for 900 years and was the last farmer in his family.  He lived to be 100 years old, living life to the fullest.  He continued to enjoy sports, fishing and bowling.  Throughout his life, he adapted and was a positive roll-model to his 8 children.


"Uncaged Songbird", 18"x14", oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved.

Statement:  In 1942 June Kikoshima and her family were forced to leave their Seattle home to be interned at Camp Harmony at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.  They were allowed to bring only two suitcases and June chose to bring her violin instead of a second suitcase.  Although denied of her liberties, June's music was a freedom to her. While in Camp harmony June met Edward Daizo "Dyke" Itami.  She was a shy musician and he was a popular all-sports athlete from Seattle.  Once the internees were transferred to the camp in Minidoka, Idaho, June and Dyke were separated as she was allowed a work release pass to work as a nanny in Chicago while Dyke was given a work-release to work on a farm in Montana.  Dyke proposed to June via mail and she came back to Idaho where they were married on December 18, 1943.  Despite the anti-Japanese sentiment, there were people whose kindness helped them get established in their new home in Nampa, Idaho.  
June continued her violin studies and started teaching the Suzuki method to young children.  In 1967, she was introduced to the Suzuki instruction method and began teaching students 3-6 years old  In 1972 at the age of 55, she founded and directed the Idaho Suzuki Institute which continues to host annual music camps in Nampa.  At the age of 80, she applied to go to an Itzhak Perlman workshop at Juilliard in NYC and was shocked and delighted when she was selected as a participant.  Through the years June's music and her teaching garnered her many awards and recognition.  She was influential to a great many people.  During her internment and throughout the remainder of her life, music was more than a passion, it was her never failing friend.

"James Itami at 102 years old, 16"x20", oil on board, Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved.

Statement:  In 1942, newly weds James and Hatsue Itami were interned at Minidoka Relocation Camp where they were informed that the bride and groom would share a room with James' parents.  It wasn't long before word came that expectant mothers and their husbands could have a room all to themselves.  James made a request to his new wife to stuff a pillow under her blouse and together they went to the camp administration office where the resourceful couple were given a room of their own.
After their release, Hatsue and Jim bought 6 acre berry farm in Sumner, Washington,  where they settled for 40 years. Jim worked as a carpenter for much of his life.  Working as a boat builder on Vashon Island and using his skills to help many friends and family members.  He was a very clever and kind man who lived to the age of 102, living life to the fullest to the end of his days.

"Grace (Takahashi) Mori", 16"x20", oil on panel, Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved.

Statement:  Grace Takahashi was 18 years old when she was sent to Manzanar.  She was given a position in the camp's mail and files office.  Her job was to check the mail and decide which person or department would receive it.  She would then hand the mail over to swift footed messengers who would deliver the mail to the designated parties.  Grace said that all of the messengers became doctors and lawyers and such after the war.  One of the messengers was Grace's friend Ralph Lazo.  Ralph Lazo was a non-Japanese American man who checked himself into Manzanar to be with his friends.  When Ralph was drafted into the army, he went back to camp after his military physical instead of returning to his home.  He wanted to say goodbye to his friends.  He left a box of chocolates on Grace's desk.  A rare treat for those incarcerated in Manzanar.  In this painting, Grace is an inspiring, bright, sharp 90+ year old women.  

"Out of the Mouths of Babes" - Cantaloupe peel, grapefruit peel, cedar bark, waxed linen, acrylic paint, paper, mounted on wood panels and frame, 19"x24"x3", Jan Hopkins © 2016, all rights reserved.

Statement:  This is a story my Mom told me about my brothers who were born shortly after war.  At the tender age of 8 and 10, 11 years after the war, my brother's friend called out "hey, let's play war, you can be the Japs".  Bewildered at the thought of being the "enemy", my brother said in reply, "We don't want to be the Japs."  Perhaps more bewildered than my brother, his friend replied " are Japs.  Upset and confused, my brother ran home and asked Mom;  "Mom, Delbert said I'm a Jap...I'm not a Jap, am I?"  Mom looked at him, taken back by his question, and then replied in a quiet voice "You are Japanese American".

"Falling" - 2015, 38"x15"x9", materials:  peels (grapefruit, pamegranate, melon and cantaloupe), leaves, yellow cedar bark, waxed linen and watch parts.

Statement:  This piece was inspired by life, nature and mortality.  Leaves sewn on this piece represent both annual renewal of life and fall leaves are symbolic of end of season.   I created this piece shortly after the passing of my Dad (Dyke Itami) at the age of 100.  He had many good seasons, this piece was in celebration a life well lived.  I decided to include this piece as part of the Internment project dedicating it to all of the internees who lived and survived a difficult time in history, only to move on and in most instances lived long and prosperous lives.

Handmade wooden trunk, Zenshiro Kikoshima made between 1942-45

Statement:  I was told that our Grandfather Zenshiro (my mother's Father) made a crate for the family belongings.  He made it with fine woods thinking ahead that he might make something from the disguised material.  He made this trunk sometime during the time the families incarceration at the Minidoka Relocation Camp.

Sketchbook Images

Since ancient times wars and military campaigns have inspired artists and their patrons to commemorate  the events and drama of battle. American combat artists have always seen their role as one of preserving images of the entire aspect of American involvement in a way that photography could not. Even though these sketches were produced in recently times as part of this project they are created  in the spirit of respect afforded to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who served their country with honor and dignity and sacrifice.

 "The Harsh Realities"  Sumi Ink on paper 11"X14" Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

"Nisei Soldier", graphite on paper,  Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved.

"Nisei Soldier II" Sumi Ink on paper 11"X14"Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

"Go For Broke", Ink on paper11"X14"Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

 Mike Mano Charcoal 16"X20" Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

Hank Mano  Charcoal 16"X20", Chris Hopkins © 2014, all rights reserved

 The Deafening Whisper  Sumi Ink on paper 11"X14" Chris Hopkins © 2015, all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit @ Museum of Flight

Please join us at the Launch of the Tuskegee Airmen Traveling Exhibition

The Museum of Flight is proud to premier "Red Tails, Silver Wings", an exhibit featuring 43 paintings by local Artist, Chris Hopkins.  The paintings capture the history of America's first African American fighter squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen.  The Exhibit will be on display in the Great Gallery Beginning February 28, 2013 and running through May 12, 2013.

for more information, please visit the Museum of Flight exhibit page
(RSVP requested)

Museum of Flight
9404 East Marginal Way S.
Seattle, WA  98108-4097
Phone 206 764-5720

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chris Hopkins on "Evening Magazine"

Chris is featured in a segment on King 5 "Evening Magazine"

interviewed by Michael King

"Evening Magazine" also interviewed Tuskegee Airmen, George Hickman.

Interviewed by Michael King

Monday, February 6, 2012

Melanie King - Bazaar Foods

Our daughter Melanie King  makes an appearance on "Bazaar Foods" (Travel Channel Network) with Andrew Zimmern, February 6, 2012 at 9:00PM as "the mysterious guide with dark glasses".

Here is the link to the preview to the show 
"Food at Pike Place Market"

Additional pictures of the day Mel revealed the best noodle soup ever!