A Young Artist's View of Tanforan

By the Archives
March 19, 2010
Watercolor sketch of Tanforan
Tanforan, circa 1942-1944. Kay Sekimachi Stocksdale, artist. Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi papers, 1937-2004. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The fiber artist Kay Sekimachi was sixteen years old when she painted this watercolor of Tanforan Assembly Center, a horse racetrack at the base of San Bruno Mountain, California, where some 7,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were detained in 1942 and housed in barracks and horse stalls (in one of which the famous racehorse Seabiscuit was once stabled).

Arts and crafts made by Japanese Americans in U.S. internment camps are currently on view in The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946 at the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery.

In a 2001 oral history interview with Kay Sekimachi for the Archives of American art, Sekimachi talks about art instruction at Tanforan.

Jenifer Dismukes is managing editor of the Archives of American Art Journal.


That's a very striking theme for an exhibition. I imagine it was an incredibly difficult time and art is such a great emotional release. It must have produced some interesting art work.

I guess Kay Sekimachi drew this from his heart.Isn't he's the one known as “weaver’s weaver"? Maybe i'm wrong.Nice and simple drawing, but has a deep embedded meaning