Programs & Events

In conjunction with Then They Came for Me, Alphawood Gallery offers a robust series of free public programming both on and off-site to encourage and expand conversations on related contemporary issues.

Public programs and events will address the impacts of Executive Order 9066 that are still felt throughout Japanese American communities and beyond, and provocatively explore vital questions about citizenship, immigration, racial discrimination, profiling, economic disparity, detainment, civil liberties, equality, activism and more.

Upcoming Programs

Saturday, August 19, 3-4PM

SHARING STORIES, LOURDES NICHOLLS

Lourdes Nicholls’ grandfather, Kiyotsugu “Bill” Tsuchiya (on the right in the photo), was the curator of Chicago’s Harding Museum from 1925 to 1940. When Harding died in 1939, Bill moved to the Los Angeles area and, during WWII, was incarcerated at Manzanar. Camp Director Ralph Merritt found out about Bill’s museum experience and asked him to start a museum at the camp. Manzanar’s Visual Education Museum opened in September 1942, and presented a wide variety of art and educational exhibitions. Please join Lourdes to learn more about her grandfather’s story, which she will supplement with archival materials and photographs she has collected.

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to come to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories and to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American incarceration camps.

Sunday, August 27, 12-4PM

Letter Writing Meetup

Are you interested in becoming a pen pal to an LGBTQ-identified person in prison? Alphawood Gallery partners with Black & Pink to provide dedicated time and space to write notes or ask questions about Black & Pink’s ongoing letter-writing project in our Take Action Room. Participants learn more about the pen pal process, expectations, resources, do’s and don’ts and get matched with a pen pal. Black & Pink Chicago is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support one another.

Wednesday, August 30, 6PM

Film Screening of Janice Tanaka’s Who’s Going to Pay for These Donuts, Anyway? with Presentation by Dr. Donna Nagata

This powerful documentary film chronicles Janice Tanaka’s 50-year search for a father she had not seen since she was three years old. As a young man, the FBI arrested him for opposing the forced removal of Japanese Americans and diagnosed him as schizophrenic with paranoid tendencies. Tanaka finally finds him in a halfway house for the chronically mentally ill in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Dr. Donna Nagata, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and author of Legacy of Injustice: Exploring the Cross-Generational Impact of the Japanese American Internment, leads a post-screening discussion on historical trauma and the psychosocial consequences of the WWII incarceration on Japanese Americans. Film runs 58 minutes.

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Thursday, September 7, 7PM
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago

AN EVENING WITH GEORGE TAKEI

In a one-night-only presentation, actor and social justice activist George Takei will share the story of his Japanese American family’s forced incarceration during World War II. With a career spanning five decades, Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu. But Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. With an uncanny eloquence and signature wit, Takei shares his poignant story: a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned during WWII; his rise to celebrity as a sci-fi icon; his remarkable journey as social media mega-power; and his passionate fight for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality in America—empowering others to beat the odds and make a difference. This program is open to the public; tickets can be purchased by visiting www.AlphawoodGallery.org/Takei-Tickets.

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September 9 Allegiance

Saturday, September 9, 3PM

Allegiance: The Broadway Musical On Screen

Film

An important story told with great resonance and intimacy, Allegiance illuminates one of American history’s lesser known chapters as it tells the story of Sam Kimura (George Takei), transported back nearly six decades to when his younger self (Telly Leung, Godspell, “Glee”) and his sister Kei (Tony Award®-winner Lea Salonga, Miss Saigon, Mulan) fought to stay connected to their heritage, their family and themselves after Japanese Americans were wrongfully imprisoned during World War II. Film runs 2 hours and 58 minutes.

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Goodman Theatre Presents

I Am the Darker Brother: Demonization and the Demise of Civil Liberties 

Workshops + Performance

Workshop: Tuesdays (September 5, September 12, September 19, September 26, 6PM)

Performance: Sunday, October 1, 3PM

In conjunction with Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil LibertiesGoodman Theatre hosts a series of narrative writing and performance workshops to explore what “American” means and what responsibilities does freedom of speech engender? The stories created in the workshops will be part of a curated performance at the gallery on Sunday, October 1, at 3PM.  Workshops and performance take place at Alphawood Gallery.  Please register by emailing Education@GoodmanTheatre.org.

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Tom Ikeda October 6

Friday, October 6th, 6PM

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

Public Talk 

Tom Ikeda, Founder and Executive Director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project will discuss how the WWII Japanese American incarceration happened during a time of fear, and how we are seeing similar fears manifest in America today. He will also share 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. He has received numerous awards including the Humanities Washington Award for outstanding achievement in the public humanities, the National JACL Japanese American of the Biennium award for Education and the Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellows Award.

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Saturday, October 14, 3-4PM

Sharing Stories, Anne Shimojima

For more than thirty years, Anne Shimojima has been telling stories, performing folk tales and literary works and sharing her family’s World War II incarceration camp experience. In 2005, Anne interviewed her 91-year old aunt, Mary Nakagawa, about her experience in the Tule Lake incarceration camp. From this, she wrote her family’s World War II story. During this week’s Sharing Stories, Anne will discuss how she went about investigating her family’s history and share anecdotes she learned through her research.

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to come to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories and to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American incarceration camps.

Tina Takemoto’s Memoirs of Bjork-Geisha: From Orientalism to Incarceration

Sunday, October 22, 1PM

Tina Takemoto’s Memoirs of Bjork-Geisha: From Orientalism to Incarceration

Performance

In this lively presentation, San Francisco-based artist Tina Takemoto will humorously reflect on her guerrilla performance art protests against Art World Orientalism. She will also present her experimental short films Looking for Jiro and Warning Shot that explore the lives of gay Japanese American men incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II. Takemoto combines drag king performance, archival materials and popular music mashups to address the hidden dimensions of same sex intimacy and queer sexuality in Japanese American wartime history as well as the ongoing legacy of state-sanctioned violence.

Adachi Taiko October 25

Wednesday, October 25, 6PM

Adachi Taiko Interactive Performance + Discussion

Performance

Adachi Taiko presents an all women-led interactive taiko performance in which the audience will be invited to participate in drumming sequences. The ensemble includes founder Patti Adachi, Tina Adachi (founder of Angel Island Theatre Company), Aurora Adachi-Winter and Miwa Shimokogawa. The performance will be 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.
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The Infinite Wrench, 11-1 6pm

Wednesday, November 1, 6PM

Neo-Futurists Present The Infinite Wrench

Performance

One of the most highly-regarded experimental theater companies in the country, Chicago’s Neo-Futurists will perform 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.

Recurring Events

Weekly Tours

Join us for public tours of the exhibition.

1pm, Wednesdays

6:30pm, Thursdays

1pm, Saturdays

DAILY FILM SCREENING

2nd Floor Theater

AND THEN THEY CAME FOR US, 2017, Abby Ginzberg and Ken Schneider, USA, 47 MIN.

This new documentary about the Japanese American incarceration demonstrates the importance of speaking up against any efforts to register or ban Muslims today. Knowing our history is the first step in making sure we do not repeat it. Interviews include actor George Takei (STAR TREK), who was incarcerated along with his family.

Sharing Stories

3pm, Saturdays
*Except August 12

Creating a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community, Sharing Stories features personal stories of Japanese Americans and others who have experienced incarceration or challenges to their civil liberties. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more.

Past Events

Wednesday, August 16, 6PM

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

In the context of ALTERNATIVE FACTS, how do we RESIST systems, policies and governments that employ the same tactics of exclusion as INCARCERATION and JIM CROW against marginalized and minority bodies at the intersection of ART and ACTIVISM? 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,” offers a public talk and leads a panel discussion on solidarity with Muslim Americans. Panelists include 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. Program includes a performance by Mitsu Salmon.

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Wednesday, August 16, 5-8PM

Letter Writing Meetup

Are you interested in becoming a pen pal to an LGBTQ-identified person in prison? Alphawood Gallery partners with Black & Pink to provide dedicated time and space to write notes or ask questions about Black & Pink’s ongoing letter-writing project in our Take Action Room. Participants learn more about the pen pal process, expectations, resources, do’s and don’ts and get matched with a pen pal. Black & Pink Chicago is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support one another.

Friday, August 11, 6-8PM

Friday Night at Alphawood with Music by Tatsu Aoki’s MIYUMI Project

On Friday August 11, the gallery will have special late hours and stay open until 8pm. Enjoy music by Tatsu Aoki’s MIYUMI Project, who produced the soundtrack for the film And Then They Came for Us, screened hourly in the gallery. Make a night of it with the exhibition, live music and then dinner or theater nearby in Lincoln Park.

Thursday, August 10, 4-7PM

Free Immigration Law Clinic

Alphawood Gallery partners with the Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) to provide free confidential immigration screenings in our Take Action Room that will assess each participant’s potential risks or concerns. Attorneys will offer consultations, outlining available options and advising on future steps. Depending on the client’s situation and eligibility, CALA may offer additional legal services or referrals. CALA is a nonprofit organization that unites lawyers and activists in a collaborative pursuit for justice by leveraging legal services to benefit the most marginalized communities and individuals.

Thursday, August 3, 6PM
@ Alphawood Gallery

Victory Gardens Theater Presents Behind the Fence, a two-play series: Hold These Truths

Playwright and actor Jeanne Sakata will perform and read from her play Hold These Truths, a biographical play about Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American resistor. During WWII in Seattle, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi fights the U.S. government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he struggles to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, Hirabayashi begins a 50-year journey toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs—and a confrontation with its failures. In May 2012, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Gordon Hirabayashi the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The performance will be followed by a Q&A with the artists and directors of both Behind the Fence productions.

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Wednesday, August 2, 7:30PM
Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

Victory Gardens Theater Presents Behind the Fence, a two-play series: Question 27, Question 28

Question 27, Question 28 tells the story of the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and its aftermath through the voices of a variety of Japanese American and non-Japanese American women. All of the play’s lines come from “interviews, transcripts and testimonials” by women who lived through that experience. The cast includes four characters, three Asian and one Caucasian, who read the lines, with the real-life figure from whose testimony they come first identified. Among the many women whose words are used are Yuri Kochiyama, Monica Sone, Mary Tsukamoto, Yoshiko Uchida and many others, including some non-Japanese Americans such as teacher Eleanor Gerard Sekerak and Eleanor Roosevelt. The cast includes Kirsten FitzgeraldEmily KurodaJeanne Sakata, and Tamlyn Tomita.  A special exhibition tour will take place at 6pm at Alphawood Gallery prior to the performance.

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Saturday, July 29, 3-4PM

Sharing Stories, Lisa Doi

Lisa Doi currently serves on the Alumni Leadership Board of Chicago’s Japanese American Citizens League Kansha Project, which educates young Japanese Americans about the history of the Japanese American incarceration. Lisa received a B.A. in Anthropology & Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago, where her research focused on postwar Japanese American resettlement. For Sharing Stories, Lisa will talk about her family’s experience during the war and their resettlement in Chicago, as well as the obligations of young Nikkei to preserve and share this history.

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to come to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories and to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American Incarceration camps.

Saturday, July 22, 3-4PM

Sharing Stories, Chiyo Omachi

Chiyo Omachiage 91, shares her story about being evacuated from Terminal Island and given 48 hours to depart along with her mother, father, grandfather and aunts and uncles. The family was sent to LA before being incarcerated at Poston War Relocation Camp in Yuma County of southwestern Arizona, which was composed of three camps holding 17,000 Japanese Americans. When Chiyo reached college age, she left for Pennsylvania and was reunited with her parents in Chicago after the war.

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to come to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories and to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American Incarceration camps.

Wednesday, July 19, 6-8PM

Full Spectrum Features Presents

Hidden Histories Films + Discussion

Please join us for three short narrative films (The Orange Story, One of Many and Tadaima) from the touring program Hidden Histories, produced by Full Spectrum Features. Focusing on the Japanese American incarceration during WWII, each film tells a personal story dramatizing a different period of this history, starting with Executive Order 9066 (which authorized the confinement sites) to the present-day legacy for younger generations. A post-screening panel will explore resistance movements that arose during the incarceration as well as the importance of political representation, with Douglas Nelson, author of the book Heart Mountain: The History of an American Concentration Camp and Josina Morita, community organizer and Commissioner for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

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Saturday, July 15, 3-4PM

Sharing Stories, Betty and JR. Morita

Betty and JR. Morita are from the Edgewater neighborhood on Chicago’s north side.  Though Betty was born in Seattle, Washington and JR. in Hood River, Oregon, the two were both incarcerated at Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho, which held 13,000 people from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.  JR.’s family was first sent to Tule Lake until it was designated a “segregation center” for “disloyal” Japanese Americans, while Betty’s family was first held at the Puyallup detention center.  Their families resettled at different times in Chicago, where they met as teenagers and have lived for over 70 years.

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American Incarceration camps.  This week’s program will be led by Michael Takada, CEO of the Japanese American Service Committee.

Saturday, July 8, 3-4PM

Sharing Stories, Michael Tanimura

Michael Tanimura is a Sansei (third-generation Japanese American). His grandparents, parents and other relatives were incarcerated at Tulare Assembly Center then moved to Gila River Internment Center, Butte Camp. His parents left Gila River early in 1943, and resettled in Chicago, where they lived out their lives. Michael was raised to be American first and foremost. In hindsight, he realized this was to ensure that what happened to his parents would never happen to him.

 

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to come to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories and to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American Incarceration camps.

Saturday, July 8, 11:30AM-1PM

Rightlessness: From Japanese Incarceration to the Muslim Ban

Panel

Led by American Studies scholar Dr. A. Naomi Paik (UIUC), this panel will address connections between Japanese American incarceration and the continuous history of vilification, imprisonment and exclusion of targeted peoples. Panelists will include speakers Ryan Yokota (Japanese American Service Committee), Ninaj Raoul (Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees) and Muhammad Sankari (Arab American Action Network) with a performance by Patricia Nguyen of Axis Lab.

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Saturday, July 1, 3-4PM

Sharing Stories, Jean Mishima & Yuki Hiyama

Jean Mishima, President of the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, was six years old when she and her family were forced to leave their home in California and relocate to an incarceration camp 600 miles away in Gila River, Arizona. Jean is joined by Yuki Hiyama, who, along with her family, were placed at the Manzanar War Relocation Center where a total of 11,070 people were incarcerated between 1942 and 1945.

As an ongoing program, Sharing Stories creates a space within the exhibition for dialogue and community. Visitors are invited to come to the 2nd floor lounge area to listen to personal stories and to ask questions, share their own experiences or just join the group to learn more about the Japanese American Incarceration camps.

Thursday, June 29, 6-8PM

Art, Now. Act, Now: Know Your Rights

Workshop

History is ringing louder than ever—we must remember our stories and relearn our rights. Join Art, Now. Act, Now. for 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, an exhibition about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Speakers include renowned political activist and commentator Don Washington, Illinois State Representative Will Guzzardi, and Logan Square immigration and refugee rights activist Anthony Quezado. Featuring performances by comedian Meg Indurti, storytelling with Owais Ahmed, poetry from Payal Kumar, music from Sen Morimoto and taiko from Ho Etsu Taiko.

Hear about the events that led us to this moment in Illinois immigration history, experience powerful performances from Chicago-based Asian-American artists and learn how and why to act through mini-Know Your Rights talks on protests, legislation and immigration enforcement.

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