When Miné Okubo headed to France to complete her studies in Art, on a scholarship, she would have never guessed a few years later she would be at a concentration camp, struggling to draw every moment in order to tell the dreadful story later. I stood in front of this picture several minutes. The looks, the smile, the cockiness, left me in awe. How do you go from the high stand of being the student of Férnand Léger to being humiliated, beyond belief, at a barrack, heavily guarded by armed men and surrounded by barbed wire.
I walked from Market to Orange in a hurry to buy the book Citizen 13660. Miné spoke directly to me, from her powerful paintings, her voice, her narrative illustrations. A life changing experience! I woke up the morning after my first encounter with Okubo´s work stating the word Evacuation. I must have been half asleep as I googled Topaz and Tanforan. I want to spend the next few years reading about the exclusion laws, the relocation centers, civil rights. This article is the report of my visit to the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties in the City of Riverside. The Center was built to house the works of Miné Okubo, and it has become a resource for those interested in the history of immigration.
To read the published text click on: Riverside en los ojos de sus inmigrantes
I started working the Western End of Riverside County in 2013. A fascinating local history can only be paired with a burgeoning urban center showing the fastest growth in the entire US since 2012.