Having heard that my husband Art was born and raised in Okinawa Japan, Shelby Graham, director/curator of the Sesnon Art Gallery at U.C.S.C. contacted him. The opening of The Gail Project: An Okinawan-American Dialogue would be the following week. ‘The Gail Project is a collaborative, international public history project that explores the founding years of the American military occupation of Okinawa. The project is inspired by a collection of photos taken in Okinawa in 1952 by an American Army Captain: Charles Eugene Gail.’
This past summer, a group of UCSC students travelled to Okinawa to re-visit and document how the Okinawa landscape has changed and to record the oral histories of both the Okinawans and the Americans still alive 64 years later.
A few days prior to the opening, Shelby came to our home to talk with Art who was born in Okinawa the year that the Gail photographs were taken. We attended the opening of the show, a festive event in the Sesnon courtyard and the upstairs art gallery. Professor Alan Cristy, Shelby Graham and a number of other key players spoke at the event.
In observing the Gail photographs, I felt an intimacy as if I were looking through Art’s collection of photographs from his childhood.
The following week, Art was invited to be the guest speaker for the Wednesday evening dialogues. During the days prior to his talk he scanned many of his childhood photos and outlined his presentation. The dialogues are intimate events attended by a core group of students and faculty and Art was articulate and focused in discussing his memories in relationship to the photographs on exhibit. I attended along with our son John, daughter Alisha and her husband Sterling and we all have a clearer picture of Art’s 18 years on Okinawa.
The four photos below are from Art’s childhood and were a part of his slide show presentation during the informal Wednesday night dialogue.
Two weeks following the Wednesday dialogue, four students came to our home to record a podcast of Art’s oral history. I imagine that there will be future podcasts to come.