Uh oh...

It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!

Read More about this safari issue.
Travel 0

Gaman: Remembering Arkansas’s Internment of Japanese-Americans


In 1941, the War Relocation Authority was established and began relocating citizens of Japanese descent on the West Coast to internment camps. Two of these camps, Rohwer and Jerome, were located in southeast Arkansas, making this plight a matter of both state and national history. Each camp forcibly housed over eight thousand people, including actor George Takei and sculptor Ruth Asawa. Nationally, approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans were detained in camps and attempted to endure their suffering with dignity, a concept called gaman.

CORE Gaman camp internee contemplates the flag

November 30 marks the 70th year anniversary of Rohwer’s closure. To commemorate this date, the University of Central Arkansas is hosting a Japanese Internment Camp Memorial Celebration with the Gaman project, orchestrated and directed by Dr. Gayle Seymour, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at UCA. Dr. Seymour authored and received a grant from the National Park Service to help make this possible, partnering with CORE performance company to develop the project. CORE is a contemporary national dance and theatre company in its 35th season with studios in Atlanta and Houston. Under the direction of founder Sue Schroeder, CORE uses dancing and the arts to prompt social awareness and change.

CORE Gaman camp internees practice patience

The Gaman project includes dance and architecture workshops, lectures, film screening, book readings and signings, art exhibits and a candle lighting ceremony in addition to performances of the contemporary dance, also called Gaman. The performance seeks to honor the memory and experience of those Japanese-Americans. Gaman is a powerful production of dance and theater commingled as performers enact scenes from camp life, depicting the impatience, forlornness, anxiety and fear that existed alongside the strength and resiliency required for daily life.

CORE Gaman camp internees experience frustrating blend of emotions

Professor of architecture Nancy Chikaraishi, whose parents were internees, created the artwork that is featured in the performance with set design by Scott Silvey. On November 4 at 7 pm in the Crystal Bridges Museum, she will deliver a lecture sharing her parents’ experiences in Rohwer and discuss the artwork of Gaman, also highlighting two architectural projects with regional relevance: a garden dedicated to Joplin, Missouri’s recovery from tornado devastation and a solar-powered tornado-resistant home concept.

Before the Crystal Bridges performance, Dr. Seymour with former Rohwer internee Richard Yada will present on life in the camps and discuss of the art of Ruth Asawa. Prior to the performance at Hendrix, President Tsutsui will open a dialogue. Hendrix is home to the painting Arrival at Camp Jerome by Henry Sugimoto, whose documentation of his experience in the internment camp was captured and endures in his art.

CORE Gaman newly arrived camp internees sadly regard their stark quarters

Don’t miss this opportunity to see an award-winning dance and theatre company perform a moving tribute to our local history and participate in conversations about civil rights, art and history.

Performances will be:

  • At Hendrix College in the Library of the Mills Center November 6 at 4 pm (free, no ticket required)
  • At UCA in the Reynolds Performance Hall November 9 at 7:30 pm (call to reserve free tickets)
  • At the Crystal Bridges Museum in the Great Hall November 11 at 7 pm (call to reserve tickets, cost is $10 if not a member)
  • In Little Rock at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center November 12 at 4:30 pm (free, no ticket required)
  • At the McGehee High School in the auditorium November 13 at 10:30 am (free, no ticket required)

Watch a preview.

Read the full schedule.

Photograph credit: Lynn Lane

Meet the

Learn more about .

A little about .

Adria English is a professional writer and a casual artist with a penchant for doodling. She currently resides in Mountain Home, Arkansas with her husband, Garrett, their daughter, Nenive, and two black cats. By foot, drone, car and kayak, Adria enjoys exploring and experiencing the Natural State.

Read more stories by Adria English

Like this story? Read more from Adria English


Join the Conversation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Submit a photo

We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, Max. file size: 5 MB.

Regions Topics

What are you looking for?

Explore Arkansas

Central Arkansas

Little Rock, Conway, Searcy, Benton, Heber Springs

Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Fort Smith

South Arkansas

Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Arkadelphia

Explore by Topic