December 13, 2010

Ingrid Menken

It is with sadness that my friend Ingrid Menken, who volunteered with the Tag Project with such energy and enthusiasm, has succumbed to her battle with cancer in October this year. She was a longtime member of the Haystack Mountain School of Craft "family" and managed the financial business and was one of the many cheerful folks who made everyone feel so welcome. She wrote earlier this year that writing the names on the tags, reciting their names carefully as she wrote was therapeutic for her, as she looked out her window at the winter snow in Maine. She wrote names and stamped numbers for the Heart Mountain camp.

I will miss you, dear Ingrid.

November 23, 2010

Update -

1) The Tag Project just had a wonderful event at Poway High School's AVID program this past Friday!! Both Linda Canada and Lindsey Nitake worked VERY hard with large groups of 70 students with tags for Jerome. Linda showed a powerpoint show documenting the history of THE TAG PROJECT, and Lindsey talked about her involvement as a volunteer, and also spoke to students about college life and the importance of education beyond high school.

Many thanks again to Karen Kawasaki-Williams for her invitation to her class!

2) Xavier Vasquez has been shooting additional footage for the Tag Project video, and preparing to collaborate with Wendy Maruyama with a short documentary video with interviews with former internees, volunteers, students, teachers and children. We have some wonderful shots of Dr. Francis Tanaka talking to yonsei volunteer Lindsey Nitake about the internment, shots of graduate students aging the tags, and former internees and young Japanese Americans working side by side on the tags.

3) We have found a new venue for the debut of The Tag Project, scheduled for March 2012. More information to follow as plans become official. But the Tag Project will debut in SAN DIEGO.


Just when we think we are finished with a camp group, some others seem to sneak in! No worries, we have a system of being able to bring the finished group back and hang the additional tags on it.

However if anyone does have these tags from the following camps, please return them to me ASAP!!! POSTON, MANZANAR, GILA RIVER, ROHWER, MINIDOKA, TULE LAKE, HEART MOUNTAIN.



New Article in the Pacific Citizen!!

Thank you, Christine McFadden!

October 17, 2010

New Assistants helping The Tag Project!!

The Tag Project now has four part time assistants working for us!! I am pleased to introduce Lindsey Nitake, Kaity Sakurai, Jean Saito, and Jon Endralin. All are students at San Diego State University: Lindsey and Kaity are members of the brand new Nikkei Student Group at SDSU. Jon is a member of the SDSU Asian Pacific Student Association. Jean Saito is a first year graduate student from New Orleans.

They will be working very hard to coordinate work assignments for the Tag Project volunteers, as well as working on the tags so that we can finish them by November 31!!

October 9, 2010

Thank you to Tennessee Technological University for hosting The Tag Project!!

The Tag Project traveled to Cookeville, Tennessee at the invitation of Professors Kimberly Winkle and Graham Campbell. Kim teaches Art 1010 Two-Dimensional Design at Tennessee Tech, and Graham teaches Art 2910 Intro to Wood At TTU's satellite campus, the Appalachian Center for Crafts.

The finished writing THE LAST of the tags from Topaz and Rohwer!!! And I mean, the LAST OF THE TAGS, period! Yes, the tags are all written for all ten camps, and we are still needing to stamp some numbers and age them but its a huge milestone for the Tag Project.

The folks in Tennessee were wonderful hosts, and I was fortunate to be there during such beautiful weather near Center Hill Lake!!

Many thanks to Kim and Graham for helping to make this happen!!

September 25, 2010

Gila River is FINISHED, Manzanar is next

We are taking down Gila River when I get back from Tennessee October 6th. If anyone has any GILA RIVER TAGS, please return them ASAP, even if they are unfinished. It's ok if they are not finished, I have plenty of volunteers and assistants here in San Diego to help.

If anyone has tags from Manzanar, please return those asap, we are starting that camp on October 8th.


September 22, 2010

SDSU Furniture Students and Ron Chun's incentive

This Sunday I will be cracking the whip at the woodshop at SDSU - thanks to incentive provided by Ron Chun, from the Bay Area, who donated money for PIZZA!!

We plan to be sloshing the tags in coffee en masse!!

Thanks, Ron!!! Ron and his family (Cindy, Zachary and Catie) worked on tags earlier in the game - Cindy Tomooka's family was interned at Poston.

Many thanks to Ron and his family for their endless support and enthusiasm!!

Yeeee HAWWW, the Tag Project is going to TENNESSEE!!

Yessirreee! I used to teach at Appalachian Center for Crafts in Tennessee from 1980-1985, it was my first job out of grad school, and it was also my first time living in the South. It was very interesting, you might say. I met lots of amazing folks though, and despite some strange unpleasantries (a guy called me a "gook" in front of Tootsie's Lounge in Nashville, and one lady in a grocery store asked if "...I had married one of their boys while they were overseas in 'nam".) I still have connections and fond memories of Tennessee.

One of my former students from San Diego State University, Kimberly Winkle, now teaches at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and invited me out to speak to her Art Appreciation class specifically about The Tag Project, and how art can speak of personal history and/or address inequities of any kind, whether it be based on race, politics, gender, sexual preferences, etc. It will be interesting to see how and whether information on the Japanese American Internment was taught in Tennessee. Most of the students from Tennessee Tech are local.

I look forward to seeing many of the volunteers from Tennessee who have helped me so much: DiAnne Patrick, Michael J. Floyd, Mary Sue Kern, Kim Winkle, to name a few!!!

For more information about this event, contact me at The actual Tag Project event will take place in Cookeville, TN on October 5th, 2010.


Update: We finished ALL of Rohwer and Topaz in Tennessee!!! here are some pics taken at the event!

September 13, 2010

Tule Lake is done

Does anyone have any Tule Lake tags out? If so please return them ASAP - I am taking it down Thursday and putting up Gila River.


September 4, 2010

It's nice and HOT in San Diego!

This is IDEAL weather for aging and drying tags!! If anyone wants to help, please email me and arrange for me to create a box of tags to be aged for pickup at the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego. Pickups and drop offs can take place on Mondays between 9-3 or Thursdays between 9-noon. Email me first at thetagproject@gmail first before you come in to make sure we have something ready for you, and to make sure we will be there.


August 18, 2010

New Email Address!

Hello, Everyone!

Just a brief update here, its been taking me a week or so to regroup after two weeks at Art Produce with The Tag Project, and then teaching a workshop at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina! I just got back about a week ago and about to pick up where I left off last.

First of all, I am reconsolidating and have created a new email address: this new address is All emails sent to the older address will automatically be forwarded to the gmail account.

You may recall that The Tag Project will be based at the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, where it will continue to be supported by enthusiastic volunteers. Volunteers may drop off or pick up tags from their office, which is located at 8170 Ronson Road Suite L, San Diego, CA 92111. It is advised that you make prior arrangements with either myself or Linda Canada, who is the President of the JAHSSD, and also a vital partner of The Tag Project. She can be reached at (858) 505-9020 or at

On that note, the JAHSSD is having an open house on Sunday, August 29th, 2010 from 1-4 PM. The Poston Tags are now complete and is on display at this location!!

Last, and not least, I have a student assistant, Trisha Fujinami, who has been assisting me since July, and will be helping for as long as she can until she goes off to college in September. I will have a new assistant stepping in for her at the end of September.

I look forward to seeing you sometime this Fall and keeping you posted.

July 16, 2010

The Tag Project is at Art Produce Gallery in San Diego from July 7-18!!

I have been SO consumed with the project, that I neglected to post this on the Tag Project blog!!! Thanks to Lynn Susholtz, The Tag Project has been at Art Produce for the last week and a half, and our last day is this coming Sunday.

It all started with an open plea for a high ceiling for assembling tags - and Lynn offered the use of her gallery space for an ongoing event. We have installed "Poston" and now we are nearly finished with "Tule Lake". MAYBE, just maybe, we will be able to start "Gila River" this weekend.

As the result of this event, we have finished ALL the tags for Poston and Tule Lake, (Poston was done but then a new batch of Poston tags showed up late) - Gila River is nearly complete - thanks to Edna Ito, she has been aging the tags FAST and Furiously!! The Manzanar tags are almost all numbered and ready to be aged. Heart Mountain and Minidoka is almost all aged. We are beginning to write tags for Topaz and Rowher. Amache, Jerome are standing by to be aged.

I am starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel!!!

June 24, 2010

The Tag Project has been awarded a CCLPEP grant for 2010!!

The Tag Project has received a $25,000 grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program!! Out of 65 applicants, The Tag Project was one of 25 awardees this year. We are thrilled and honored to be a part of this special program and The Tag Project aims to continue its mission of collaboration, education, and advocacy!

The Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego will also be the Tag Project's home base.

Many thanks to the San Diego Japanese American Citizen's league for its support of The Tag Project.

Special thanks to Linda Canada and Robert Ito for their help with this grant application.

And a big THANK YOU to the CCLPEP for their support and enthusiasm for The Tag Project.

The Tag Project will be at the Tule Lake Pilgrimage!! July 2-5!!

Thanks to one of my earliest volunteers, Yuki Mathias, and the Tule Lake Pilgrimage Committee, the Tag Project will be at Tule Lake!!

We have tags that need stamping, names and numbers. The Tule Lake tags will be assembled for the entire time of the Pilgrimage. Please stop by and say hello, help us complete some tags, and watch the project grow!!

June 1, 2010

The Tag Project at Kiku Gardens June 5 2010

The Tag Project will be at Kiku Gardens Saturday, June 5 from 10 AM - noon. We are now at a point where we need help taking the tags through an aging process (dunking in coffee and krinkling and setting out to dry).

If you would like to help, please bring rubber gloves, old newspapers, and if you have one, a plastic dishpan or some similar plastic container for dunking tags.

Roll up your sleeves, and join the fun!!


Kiku Gardens
1260 Third Ave.
Chula Vista, CA 91911

Time: 10 AM til noon

Thank you!!!

April 28, 2010

The Tag Project

This project was begun as part of my research on Executive Order 9066: it is the first time I made the personal decision to really look at this sorry chapter in history as a Japanese American artist. I plan to focus on this direction in my work for the next few years.

One project, "The Tag Project", was started in New York - I replicated 1011 tags from internees from my hometown (San Diego/Chula Vista). I was inspired by the thousands of folded origami cranes I saw at the Hiroshima Peace memorial and this group of tags was called "Cascade". I was also deeply moved by the photos of Dorothea Lange, one is shown above: it was her photos that initially provided the physical and emotional weight of the internment, and how it so profoundly affected the Japanese American citizens during and for years to come. All Japanese Americans were rounded up in 1942 and each were issued a tag and an ID number designating their destination: one of several internment camps, all in desolate deserted areas of the United States. The most haunting and striking photos were of the families wearing tags at the various assembly centers before being shipped off by train to these remote areas.

I was taken by the weight of these tags when they were completed and hung, despite appearing to be light and airy. This struck me as being very relevant to the way the internment was perceived by the general American Public. To this day it shocks me to still run into fellow Americans who had no clue that this had happened. I am going to commit to making all 120,000 tags, for all the Japanese Americans who were sent to all the camps. I feel that the sheer numbers and the scale of these tags will convey to all who view this that the internment was a massive project that was to affect an entire culture of people and their future generations.

Obviously this is a huge undertaking. I know that this will take a community to make happen, but will provide a way for others to meet each other, work together, and share stories. I have begun to ask friends, artists and family to help - and in turn these friends have asked others to help. Some were internees and have shared their stories. Some know the same friends that my parents know, so this is bringing people back together. I have also reconnected with folks that I have not seen since I was a child, who have volunteered their help.

So I decided that I will begin attending pilgrimages, talking to people, asking people to spread the word that I am working on this collaborative piece and asking for more volunteers. I am keeping track of the names of all the individuals who are helping me with this.

I hope you will join me in this project. I look forward to meeting many more people.


The Tag Project set up shop in the Mess Hall at Manzanar, during the 41st Manzanar Pilgrimage on Saturday, April 24th from 9 AM - 4 PM! We filled out about 1500 tags from the Manzanar database, and in the process, got to know some interesting people!! The Florin JACL and Sacramento CAIR group filled out several pages of the database during their lunch break which was wonderful.

Special thanks go to Joe Virata, and his group, UCRiverside Asian Pacific Student Programs, and to Claudia Cardenas's group from the Franklin High School Magnet in Los Angeles!! The enthusiasm and energy shown by these young people actually give me a tremendous amount of hope in that the remembrance of this terrible chapter in American History will continue and hopefully continue to educate. It is difficult though, considering the recent passage of the immigration law in Arizona this month, and the fact that Texas plans to "whitewash" their history books, altering the interpretation of Executive Order 9066 - "as the regulation of some foreign nationals".

The weather was very beautiful, and it did get pretty hot - I was sweating like a pig in the mess hall, which gave me a preettttyyy good idea of what it must have been like to live there. I just can't imagine how the internees did that for 4 years, and in the cold winter too???? Those walls were awfully thin.

I am grateful to Kerry Cababa and the Manzanar Committee for the invitation to participate this year, and to Park Superintendent Les Inafuku for helping me set up in the Mess Hall!

April 13, 2010

Art of Gaman

Some folks wondered how The Tag Project got involved in the Renwick/Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. - it was a "companion" project to coincide with Delphine Hirasune's beautiful exhibition of objects made by interned Japanese Americans during their four years of incarceration in the various ten camps.

This show can be seen at this site:

March 26, 2010

The Tag Project will be at the 41st Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage!!

The Tag Project will be at the 41st Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage! Please go to for more information! It will be a wonderful event: I went last year
and it was terrific!!

The Tag Project at Pioneer Ocean View United Church!

The Pioneer Ocean View United Church in San Diego is hosting their SECOND Tag Project event on April 11th, 2010! There will be another Teriyaki Bowl lunch, available at a very reasonable price, and after lunch the Tag Project will proceed!!
Many thanks to my Mom and Dad and their wonderful church friends!!!

2550 Fairfield Street
San Diego, CA 92110

For more information, please contact me at

March 22, 2010

Upcoming Event at the Smithsonian/Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C.

The Tag Project will be at the Smithsonian/Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. on April 11 2010 at 2 PM! This event is a companion workshop in conjunction with the exhibition, "The Art of Gaman" by Delphine Hirasune. This is an exhibition of artworks and crafts made by the Japanese Americans while they were incarcerated in the ten various internment camps in 1942-1946.

Mira Nakashima and Wendy Maruyama will be giving lectures about their works on Saturday, April 10, and on April 11, their lectures will focus on the Japanese American Internment. The Tag Project event will follow the lecture.

For more information, go to Involved/Maruyama.html.

Hope to see you there!

March 1, 2010

The Tag Project visits the Ventura County JACL

I was invited to give a presentation to Ventura County's JACL, during their yearly installation luncheon! They were an enthusiastic, supportive and fabulous group of dedicated individuals!! They also made a donation to the Project, for which I am extremely grateful. Many thanks to Shig Yabu, who made the suggestion for the Tag Project to come visit this group. I was able to see the plans for a new Interpretive Center for Heart Mountain, and I look forward to seeing the Heart Mountain Tags being installed there someday.

January 21, 2010

Poston is now complete!!!

See the video at this link:

Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped write, stamp, number, age and assemble these tags!!!

And a special thanks to Xavier Vasquez, who shot the quick video! We will be seeing you at Manzanar this Spring!!