HomeJapanese AmericanCollege apologizes after professors alters mural depicting incarceration of Japanese Americans

College apologizes after professors alters mural depicting incarceration of Japanese Americans

Photo from Grant Making in the Arts by Eugene Tagawa depicts a mural before it was defaced

The vice president of Bellevue College in Washington whited out part of a mural by a Japanese American artist depicting the incarceration camps from World War II, reports the Seattle Times.

The university is apologizing for the actions of Gayle Colston Barge who has been in her position for more than five years, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The mural by Erin Shigaki features two Japanese American children from an incarceration camp along with a description of the horrendous experience.

According to Professor Leslie Lum, someone removed the sentence that read “After decades of anti-Japanese agitation, led by Eastside businessman Miller Freeman and others, the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans included the 60 families (300 individuals) who farmed Bellevue.”

The university says Barge first whited out the reference, then a new description was taped over the original.

” It was a mistake to alter the artist’s work,” school president Jerry Weber wrote in the letter sent to students and staff. “Removing the reference gave the impression that the administrator was attempting to remove or rewrite history, a history that directly impacts many today … Editing artistic works changes the message and meaning of the work.”

Photo from LinkedIn of Erin Shigaki

In a text to the Seattle Times, artist Erin Shigaki wrote “I feel the feelings associated with both sides of my family being forcibly removed from Seattle – erased, unimportant, disregarded, disrespected, shamed.”

Shigaki described herself as “traumatized” by the defacement.

The missing sentence has since been taped back over the whited-out portion.

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