Program Archive

Program Archive

In conjunction with the exhibition Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties, Alphawood Gallery offered more than 50 public programs including panel discussions, lectures, conversations, live performances, film screenings, workshops, concerts and hands-on activist activities. Covering a range of historical and contemporary topics, all took inspiration from the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and encouraged dialogue and awareness around issues of racism and threats against civil liberties. Many of them were recorded, so if you missed any, or want to see them again, please click the links below. Video captions are forthcoming.

Hate Crimes: From Vincent Chin to the Present Panel Discussion

November 18, 2017

It has been 35 years since the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American (mistakenly identified as Japanese) who was killed in Detroit in 1982. This case outraged and galvanized the Asian American community to mobilize and mount a legal case, spurring greater political participation and a stronger sense of Asian American identity. Issues of racial animosity and xenophobia have continued to resonate among many communities, not only since the events of 9/11, but also today. Featuring Serve2Unite’s Pardeep Kaleka and renowned Asian American and LGBTQ activist and author Helen Zia, who played an instrumental role in organizing around the Vincent Chin case, the panel was moderated by Dr. Ryan Masaaki Yokota (Japanese American Service Committee) and included a discussion of the legacy of Vincent Chin’s murder and how to organize to safeguard civil and human rights. The program began with a performance by Woke Up Stand Up producer Arish Singh. *ASL interpretation provided.

The Neo-Futurists Present The Infinite Wrench

November 1, 2017

One of the most highly-regarded experimental theater companies in the country, Chicago’s Neo-Futurists performed a special version of The Infinite Wrench, inspired by the themes of Then They Came for Me. The Infinite Wrench is a mechanism that unleashes a barrage of two-minute plays for a live audience. Each play offers something different—some are funny, others profound. Some are elegant, disgusting, topical, irrelevant, terrifying or put to song. All of the plays are truthful and tackle the here-and-now, inspired by the lived experiences of the performers.

Adachi Taiko Interactive Performance and Discussion

October 25, 2017

Adachi Taiko presented an all women-led interactive taiko performance in which the audience was invited to participate in drumming sequences. The ensemble included founder Patti Adachi, Tina Adachi (founder of Angel Island Theatre Company), Aurora Adachi-Winter and Miwa Shimokogawa. The performance was followed by a discussion around the Adachi family history and their relationship to the incarceration in U.S. concentration camps as well as the intergenerational, political and historical impacts of taiko within Japanese American communities.

From Frank Lloyd Wright to Chicago’s Jackson Park: The Work of Japanese American Architect Kaneji Domoto

October 18, 2017

In conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Professor Lynnette Widder (Columbia University) explored the work of architect and landscape designer Kaneji Domoto (1912-2002) in the context of his Japanese American identity. Through personal photographs and documents, Widder told the story of Domoto’s early experiences in his immigrant family’s nursery, his fellowship at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West, his incarceration in Colorado during WWII and his long, independent practice based in New York. She presented Domoto’s own transforming explorations, including his award-winning garden in Chicago’s Jackson Park.

Why the Japanese American Incarceration Matters Today with Densho Executive Director Tom Ikeda

October 6, 2017

Tom Ikeda, Founder and Executive Director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project discussed how the WWII Japanese American incarceration happened during a time of fear, and how we are seeing similar fears manifest in America today. He shared how immigration bans, discriminatory laws and imprisonment in an American concentration camp affected his Gold Star Japanese immigrant grandparents. In 1996, Tom founded Densho, a nonprofit organization based in Seattle, dedicated to preserving, educating and sharing the story of World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans in order to deepen understandings of American history and inspire action for equity. This program was preceded by a performance by dancer, choreographer and improviser Ayako Kato.

Sam Mihara & Azam Nizamuddin In Conversation

September 13, 2017

Sam Mihara, a Japanese American incarceration camp survivor, and Azam Nizamuddin, from the Muslim Bar Association, came together for an intimate conversation. From San Francisco, Mihara and his family were incarcerated in Wyoming as part of the forced removal of Japanese Americans during WWII. Azam Nizamuddin is currently working to prevent civil rights violations that are threatening Muslims in America today. Mihara and Nizamuddin discussed the experiences of children, families and individuals subjected to persecution and exclusion on the basis of race, religion and background. They also explored the role artists who documented the incarceration of Japanese Americans as well as the media play in creating dangerous stereotypes that perpetrate fear both then and today. The program began with a performance by musician Ivan Resendiz.

George Takei’s Visit to Alphawood Gallery

September 7, 2017

Before actor and social justice activist George Takei’s evening performance at Chicago’s Athenaeum Theater, he visited Alphawood Gallery with his husband Brad Takei. This archival footage documents his visit and his tour of Then They Came for Me, led by Tony Hirschel, Alphawood’s Director of Exhibitions. Takei, Hirschel and Alphawood staff and partners are joined by members of JACL Chicago’s Kansha Project, who participated in a discussion with Takei.

George Takei Interview by Jake Hamilton from Fox News’ Good Day Chicago

September 7, 2017

Actor and activist George Takei sat down with Jake Hamilton from Fox News’ Good Day Chicago to share his childhood experience of living in an American prison camp during World War II. Takei recounts the process (“a series of outrages”), the illogical reasoning and the racist underpinnings of the U.S. government’s incarceration of Japanese Americans 75 years ago. He compares this historical event to today’s sweeping vilification of certain immigrants and people of color. He asserts, “It is critically important that this chapter in American history be incorporated into our education system so that we prevent something like this from happening again.”

#NoBanNoWall: Alternative Fact & Resistance Practice Panel, with Larycia Hawkins

August 16, 2017

Former Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins, subject of The New York Times Magazine story: “The Professor Wore a Hijab in Solidarity – Then Lost Her Job,” offered a public talk and led a panel discussion on solidarity with Muslim Americans. Panelists included Bharathi Pillai, Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Illinois, Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sadia Nawab, Youth & Arts Manager at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network and Alicia Crosby, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Center for Inclusivity.

#NoBanNoWall: Mitsu Salmon Performance

August 16, 2017

Mitsu Salmon performed Tsuchi, a solo interdisciplinary performance piece that draws from Mitsu’s great-grandfather’s experience of immigrating from Japan to Hawaii, working as a farmer and ultimately fulfilling his dream to be a high-end waiter. The work explores questions of family and travel through Butoh, contemporary dance, and everyday movements with music and text. Salmon received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014, and has performed solo work at Performance Space 122, Highways Performance Space and internationally at the Berlin Performance Art Festival, London Performance Art Festival and Urban guild in Kyoto, Japan.

Art, Now. Act, Now: Know Your Rights

June 29, 2017

Art, Now. Act, Now. was a night of performances, teach-ins and calls to action by Chicago artists, educators and community organizers in the first public event of Alphawood Gallery’s Then They Came for Me. Speakers included renowned political activist and commentator Don Washington, Jackson Paller from State Representative Will Guzzardi’s Campaign Office and Logan Square immigration and refugee rights activist Anthony Quezada. The event featured performances by comedian Meg Indurti, storytelling with Owais Ahmed, poetry from Payal Kumar, music from Sen Morimoto and Eddie Burns and taiko from Ho Etsu Taiko. The program was hosted by Chicago artist and activist, Bindu Poroori.