Visu­al Arts

Col­ors of Con­fine­ment: Rare Kodachrome Pho­tographs of Japan­ese Amer­i­can Incar­cer­a­tion in World War II

Eric L. Muller, ed.; Bill Man­bo, photographer
  • From the Publisher
January 14, 2013

In 1942, Bill Man­bo (19081992) and his fam­i­ly were forced from their Hol­ly­wood home into the Japan­ese Amer­i­can intern­ment camp at Heart Moun­tain in Wyoming. While there, Man­bo doc­u­ment­ed both the bleak­ness and beau­ty of his sur­round­ings, using Kodachrome film, a tech­nol­o­gy then just sev­en years old, to cap­ture com­mu­ni­ty cel­e­bra­tions and to record his fam­i­ly’s strug­gle to main­tain a nor­mal life under the harsh con­di­tions of racial impris­on­ment. Col­ors of Con­fine­ment show­cas­es six­ty-five stun­ning images from this extreme­ly rare col­lec­tion of col­or pho­tographs, pre­sent­ed along with three inter­pre­tive essays by lead­ing schol­ars and a reflec­tive, per­son­al essay by a for­mer Heart Moun­tain internee.

The sub­jects of these haunt­ing pho­tos are the rou­tine fare of an ama­teur pho­tog­ra­ph­er: parades, cul­tur­al events, peo­ple at play, Man­bo’s son. But the images are set against the back­drop of the barbed-wire enclo­sure sur­round­ing the Heart Moun­tain Relo­ca­tion Cen­ter and the dra­mat­ic expanse of Wyoming sky and land­scape. The accom­pa­ny­ing essays illu­mi­nate these scenes as they trace a tumul­tuous his­to­ry unfold­ing just beyond the cam­er­a’s lens, giv­ing read­ers insight into Japan­ese Amer­i­can cul­tur­al life and the stark real­i­ties of life in the camps.

Read Eric L. Muller’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe


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