Paul Kitagaki Jr.’s exhibit Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit juxtaposes historic photographs of Japanese Americans interned during World War II with his contemporary portraits of the same individuals. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, leading to the forced removal of almost 120,000 ethnic Japanese to ten desolate internment camps away from the West Coast. Two-thirds of those interned were native-born American citizens.
Dorothea Lange photographed Kitagaki’s grandparents, father and sister in 1942 as they awaited a bus in Oakland to begin their journey into detention. Upon finding Lange’s photograph in the National Archives, Kitagaki realized that each photograph represented an untold story buried in the past. For a decade he has searched for the identities of internees photographed by War Relocation Authority photographers.
“I strive to create contemporary images that complement and mirror the original photographs of Lange and her counterparts and reveal the strength and perseverance of my subjects.”
Paul Kitagaki Jr. has been a senior photographer at The Sacramento Bee since 2003. During his 37 years as a photojournalist and documentary photographer he has worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Oregonian, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Progress, and the San Mateo Times. His web site is www.kitagakiphoto.com.
Mary Ann Yahiro and Helene Nakamoto
Jerry Aso and Bill Asano
Mae Yangai Ferral