The Balm of a Good Project

Showcase photos by Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams? Twist my arm.

I didn’t have to be asked twice to help design the website for the San Francisco exhibition of Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties. This is a sad chapter in our history that should be remembered.

But the project of revisiting this tragic, outrageous story was filled with joy and beauty.

First there is the incredible imagery. That the War Relocation Authority hired photographers like Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Clem Albers to document the camps is hard to believe. Though the images at the time were heavily censored, I cannot picture anything remotely similar happening today. If you can’t make the show, be sure to scroll down to the gallery on and check out the photos: heartbreaking documentation of the forced removal and relocation of Japanese Americans, yet beautiful photos that really bring back the moment.

It was also a wonderful experience to work with the gifted team creating the exhibition. Sponsored by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the exhibit grew out of a documentary film by Abby Ginzberg. A version was mounted in Chicago, and then brought to San Francisco, presented in the Presidio, just steps from where the Civilian Exclusion Orders that opened this shameful episode were signed 75 years ago. The network of historians, journalists, curators, writers, and survivors who came together to give life to this exhibit gave me that rare, tingling feeling of participating in one of the highlights in life.

If you can possibly see it before it closes at the end of May 2019, grab the chance.

By David Kerr | Filed Under: Client Stories Design Humanity

David Kerr Design