Smuggled Lenses: Photography and Japanese American History

This special hour-long presentation designed for high school classrooms features two Asian-American scholars discussing the work of three American photographers – Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Toyo Miyatake – during World War II. Each of them recorded the lives of Japanese American citizens who were imprisoned in concentration camps such as Manzanar in California after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The presenters explore how each photographer, one who visited Manzanar and is best known for his landscape images, one who was hired by the government to document the incarceration and then had her photographs impounded, and one who was a prisoner of Manzanar himself, documented this moment in American history from their own unique perspective, and how contemporary artists and activists have interacted with the Manzanar site in more recent years. This presentation relates to Fenimore Art Museum’s 2021 exhibition, Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams, but viewing the exhibition is not necessary for watching and understanding the video.

Ansel Adams Video for Smuggled LensesVideo Presentation