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Minidoka Woodblock Prints

Woodblock print made at Minidoka
Ca. 1942-1943
Made by Kimi Yamashita
Paper and ink
Gift of Scott Muramatsu & Mary S. Komachi
2008.12.12
Woodblock print made at Minidoka
Ca. 1942-1943
Made by Robert Hashimoto
Paper and ink
Gift of Scott Muramatsu & Mary S. Komachi
2008.12.38

There is a group of 50 or so scans of woodblock prints from the Komachi Family Collection that have always appealed to me. These small, modest prints documented the daily activities at Minidoka, taking a horrible and dehumanizing experience and transforming some aspects of it into art. Working with what was available—which wasn’t much—and making something beautiful requires determination, resolve, and fortitude, let alone skill. 

Some of the woodblock prints are signed by their makers, likely youths as part of a camp activity. Their observational skills and artistic interpretation illustrate their everyday life but always with a guard tower, barbed wire, tar paper walls of the barracks, or the incessant wind, ever present and constantly reminding us of both the beauty and ugliness of humankind. 

-Nicole Nathan

Nicole Nathan was the Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon from 2009-2012.

You can view more of the woodblock prints from the Komachi Family Collection here.

Minidoka Woodblock Prints