Special Project Details
Sa sa e: Objects of Memory
A special project documenting, collecting, and cataloguing arts & crafts, historic artifacts, and objects created in the internment camps during WWII.
Sa sa e (n.) [pron. SAH-SAH-EH] / a support or bearer of weight (translated from the Japanese definition).
Since late 2009, the National Japanese American Historical Society, Inc. (NJAHS) has worked in collaboration with Japanese American communities and Japanese American Citizens League Chapters throughout the Bay Area on a special project documenting, collecting, and cataloguing various arts & crafts, historic artifacts, and objects created in the internment camps during WWII.
We have received an enormous response and enthusiastic participation, namely from the descendents – children, grandchildren – of Japanese American internees living in northern Californian communities including Penryn, Salinas, and San Francisco. They have generously shared their stories and experiences, helping us create a catalogue and database of these objects in an effort to preserve and cherish their legacy. NJAHS has been able to gather up to 50 new works attributed to these camp objects, many of which will be accessible through our website via our online database.
Created from found, raw materials of their immediate surroundings, many of these objects are hand crafted everyday items: a dresser made of wood planks from crates, flower sculptures made from pipe cleaners, decorative hair pins created from small shells, hand-painted bird carvings made of pieces of wood. These objects have now upheld a deeper and more personal meaning, each with its own lifetime worth of stories. They were created in an effort to find beauty in struggle and strength during a time of adversity; the objects themselves represent the trauma of displacement and efforts to adapt to times of prejudice and war. Yet we find beauty, creativity, and even functionality in several of these objects, collectively known as Sa sa e, or Objects of Memory.
This summer, NJAHS is proud to present an exhibition celebrating these camp objects. Sa sa e |Objects of Memory will be located within our Peace Gallery and will feature several of the arts & crafts seen in the above database in addition to other objects from NJAHS’ permanent collection. Please continue to visit our website for updated information.