‘The Tag Project’ recalls troubling chapter in American history

thumb_TagContemporary furniture designer Wendy Maruyama visits Tennessee Tech University Oct. 4 and Oct. 5 with her work-in-progress, "The Tag Project," an effort to recognize the 120,000 mostly Japanese-Americans who were confined to internment camps in 1942.

The San Diego, Calif.-based artist created the project after attending a memorial service several years ago for the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment, a unit that fought in Europe during World War II and consisted primarily of Japanese-American men. Alongside other Japanese-Americans, these men's families were consigned to U.S. internment camps by Executive Order 9066 after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.

"The Tag Project" is a hands-on activity in which Maruyama is attempting to write the names of each individual sent to a camp on a tag.

thumb_WendyMarayama
Wendy Maruyama
"The work is influenced by personal and family history and addresses the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans in 1942. This event dramatically changed the Japanese-American psyche and is to this day still a vague segment of history to most Americans," she told "American Craft" magazine in an October 2009 interview.

"I started looking for images, and the ones that struck me the most were the ones of small children, babies, entire families wearing tags that directed them to their camps," said Maruyama, who is a professor of woodworking and furniture design at San Diego State University.

Maruyama's primary activity on campus will take place in the lobby of the Bryan Fine Arts Building from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Participants will help Maruyama in her exhibit by making the tags to represent each individual who was sent to the camps.

"I felt that because her work covers great breadth and is incredibly diverse, it could appeal to a number of disciplines on our campus," said Kimberly Winkle, who teaches art foundation and art appreciation courses at TTU. "Plus, it's always great to be able to bring a highly revered and esteemed artist to our campus."

Maruyama's public lecture about "The Tag Project" will be held in Room 215 of Prescott Hall at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5. She also will present a lecture at the Appalachian Center for Craft about her furniture designs at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4.

This is a Center Stage event supported by TTU's General Education Fund. Center Stage events are selected to enhance student understanding and engagement with the fine arts and world cultures.