Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams features over fifty little-known photographs by Ansel Adams (1902–1984) that depict how Japanese Americans bore their treatment at the Manzanar incarceration camp in central California. Taken during World War II, the black and white images were originally published in Adams’ book Born Free and Equal (1944) in which he protested what he called the “enforced exodus” of American citizens within their own country.
February 19 – May 29, 2022
Museum of Sonoma County
425 Seventh Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
The exhibition opens on the 80th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to “exclude” any residents from certain West Coast military areas for “protection against espionage and sabotage.” Pressured by the fear, prejudice and escalating racism sweeping the nation after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the government of the United States forced the incarceration of entire families totaling to about 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were native-born Americans or legal residents.
In the exhibition, Adams’s portfolio is complemented by the work of other photographers, including Dorothea Lange. Also on view are documents, publications, propaganda materials, artifacts, and artwork detailing life and conditions at the camp.
Working closely with the Sonoma County chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Museum will also present a selection of stories, objects, and images related to the experience of Sonoma County residents who faced forced incarceration in camps like Manzanar during the war.
Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams offers insight into a racially unjust period in California and American history and bears witness to the resilience of the Japanese American community. Adams’ intent was to create an important historical document and have it be “put to good use.” Even as anti-Asian racism has made the news in recent years with the emergence of the Stop Asian Hate movement, its roots run deep in the history of the United States. This exhibition is an important lesson about the past injustice done to a community because of their national origin and race, delivered 80 years after one of America’s most horrific decisions.
The exhibition is presented in Memory of Shizuo Tsujihara, and organized and generously supported by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions Los Angeles, CA.
Additional support comes from the Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League.