An artist completed this painting in a Japanese-American internment camp.
Close Caption
Unknown Artist, Watercolor. Eaton Collection. Courtesy of Japanese American National Museum.
History for Sale?
A proposed auction of art by Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II ignites public outrage

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The attack killed more than 2,000 Americans and drew the U.S. into World War II. In an effort that officials believed would increase national security, the U.S. government forced more than 110,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps, a type of prison. They were held there until 1945. Nearly 50 years later, the U.S. government issued an apology for this disgraceful act.

While in the internment camps, some people found comfort in making art. Recently, an auction house in New Jersey planned to sell a collection of more than 400 artworks created in the camps. The proposed auction caused public protest.

The collection originally belonged to a man who was opposed to the mass incarceration [imprisonment]. Later, the collection passed to a family that couldn’t care for it, so they decided to sell it. “We weren’t trying to extort [unfairly take] money from anyone,” one family member explained.

Critics said it was wrong to profit from the prisoners’ work. They argue that the collection should be donated to a museum where it could be used to educate people. Nearly 8,000 people signed an online petition, which called the auction “a betrayal of those imprisoned people who thought their gifts would be used to educate, not be sold to the highest bidder.”

Public opposition won, and the auction house canceled the sale. Instead, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles acquired the collection. Is it ethical to sell art by people who were unjustly incarcerated? Why or why not?

CRAFT AN ARGUMENT
1. How could these works be used to educate people?
2. Why do some find it inappropriate to sell art created by people while they were unfairly imprisoned?
3. Should people be allowed to sell artworks created by people while they were unjustly incarcerated?


because there teach a lession!That is not right at all because that is others art not for other people to sell unless they had premisnion!NO!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Gavin E. | September 22, 2015 at 2:12 PM
~They could tell us about the world and what it was like to live in the olden days. ~Because what they painted might have been something bad. They also might think that they were imprisoned for something they did wrong. They might take it a wrong way. ~Yes they should be able to still sell it. Art is a beautiful thing. If you take that away there will be no more color in this world. (Metaphorically duh!)
Posted by: Lexy J. | September 22, 2015 at 2:13 PM
They could be used to educate people about what really happened during wars instead of the teachers havingt o sugar coat the story. I think it is completely fine to sell them if the owner wants to. I think if the people that made the artwork have passed and the owner wants they have the right to do what they want with them.
Posted by: Brock L. | September 22, 2015 at 2:14 PM
The artwork could tell people today how they were treated in those camps and what happened during their times in the camps. Because it was their personal property and it was what they were expressing onto the pages not making for peoples enjoyment. No because it should go somewhere where many people can see it or it should go to the family members for them to remember those people.
Posted by: Kayden G. | September 22, 2015 at 2:14 PM
1. Because They could inspire the kids. Or they could have reasons in the arts. 2. Because they don't have a say so in it. They might want to keep the paintings and some day hang it on their wall. 3. NO if they say no but if they say sure then go at it. They should say yes or no. If they dont get a choice then no i dont think that.
Posted by: TYLER T. | September 22, 2015 at 2:15 PM
1. The art could teach people what was happening to them while in those camps. 2. Because it belonged to them and it showed what they were feeling. It wasn't just art. 3. I don't think it should be sold becuase I think it should go to the families as a memory of their past.
Posted by: Riley W. | September 22, 2015 at 2:15 PM
1. It describes what they were thinking about while they were in jail. 2. They think that it is not fair to the people who were in jail because they made it so they should get to chose what happens with it. 3. No because that is something that they made so it is theirs.
Posted by: Gavin M. | September 22, 2015 at 2:15 PM
1.it describes what they think about. 2.they think it is inapproprite to sell art made by prisoners cause they may make weird stuff 3no cause that is their peice of art
Posted by: brenna l. | September 22, 2015 at 2:15 PM
1. It describes what they were thinking about while they were in jail. 2. They think that its not fair to the people that were in jail because they made it so they should get to chose what happens. 3. No Because that is there piece of art they made so they should be able to keep it
Posted by: Kale M. | September 22, 2015 at 2:16 PM
I think that the people who thought that this was not okay, were overreacting a little. Yeah, they were selling art that could have been put in a museum, but what if the buyers were going to give it to a museum anyways? Or, what if they were really interested in it? I think that the people were wrong to think that way, especially if they were owned by that certain person. This could educate the people, sure, but they would only be educated by how it looks. I think that people should be able to sell the paintings that they own.
Posted by: Anna S. | September 22, 2015 at 2:16 PM
Because they could be they way that they painted the paintings. Because it could be a bad painting like really bad as in i am not allowed to say. Sure as long as it is a good painting and doesn't mean that like it is a bad like really bad one.
Posted by: Sadie E. | September 22, 2015 at 2:17 PM
Because they could be they way that they painted the paintings. Because it could be a bad painting like really bad as in i am not allowed to say. Sure as long as it is a good painting and doesn't mean that like it is a bad like really bad one.
Posted by: Sadie E. | September 24, 2015 at 1:36 PM
I think that if it is history it should stay protected and not get destroyed. I think that the art should stay in the museum instead of being sold.
Posted by: Mackenzy R. | September 24, 2015 at 1:36 PM
I think that they should donate half of the money and keep the other half but, I would think the people should be able buy and know where the money goes to. Because those are the people who visit the mesuems.
Posted by: Jesse B. | September 24, 2015 at 1:36 PM
I don't think people should be able to sell art that someone else made. They should buy it to hand it on there walls and be done. not to buy an expensive painting and sell it to make money. But then people would say what do I do with it if I don't want it anymore. Then I can see why you could sell it but you could give it to a museum like they said in the article.
Posted by: Bailey W. | September 24, 2015 at 1:37 PM
Yeah, they were selling art that could have been put in a museum, but what if the buyers were going to give it to a museum anyways? Or, what if they were really interested in it? I think that the people were wrong to think that way, especially if they were owned by that certain person. This could educate the people, sure, but they would only be educated by how it looks. I think that people should be able to sell the paintings that they own.3. NO if they say no but if they say sure then go at it. They should say yes or no. If they dont get a choice then no i dont think that.Because they could be they way that they painted the paintings. Because it could be a bad painting like really bad as in i am not allowed to say. Sure as long as it is a good painting and doesn't mean that like it is a bad like really bad one.
Posted by: Chaise Z. | September 24, 2015 at 1:38 PM
1. It describes that when they were in jail, and what they were thinking about at that time. 2. They thought it wasn't right to sell art made by prisoners because they did something bad to get there, and I am sure no one wants art from a prisoner. I know I wouldn't. 3. No because they didn't make that someone else did, and they gave it to them for a reasonNot to sell it and make money for themselves.
Posted by: Cedrick D. | September 24, 2015 at 1:38 PM
I think, that they made the right choice. Those painting are of how they felt, what they were thinking. Basically, it's history and needed to go to a museum. Why sell it to the highest bidder? It might be a pretty art, but if you think about it, that was made in a prison camp. I don't have anything, against art being made anywhere but still, it just seems wrong to sell it.
Posted by: Rebecca S. | September 24, 2015 at 1:39 PM
I think that America should not have put the people in "Jail' in the first place. I don't think they should sell something that someone in prison made. They should either put it up in a museum or give it back to Japan. If it it sold I hope the person that buys it puts it in a museum.
Posted by: Max H. | September 24, 2015 at 1:39 PM
1.They paintings could educate people how to encampment looked like. 2.They find it inappropriate because if they weren't even supposed to be in a prison anyway. 3. No they should not be able to sell those.
Posted by: Victor B. | September 24, 2015 at 1:39 PM
People can be educated with this to know history and culture of Japanese Painting. People think it is unfair to sell imprisoned people's work, because they were created by criminals, and they might make some profits from it. Yes because art is art. It doesn't matter who made it. As long as they have talent and is capable of painting, I feel that there work should be known.
Posted by: Keagan .. | September 24, 2015 at 1:40 PM
Well they should not sell those paintings from World War II because those painting are 1 of a kind and if they get burned, lost, ripped, or anything else they will never ever be able to be acquired ever again. Some people might even say or look like they will take amazing care of them, but they wouldn't because they might destroy them or just shove them in a attic or a basement. I think that they should not put them out for buy, but instead put them in a Japanese museum or a WWII museum or something along those lines so then they would be token care of by someone that they know for a fact that they would take really good care of those WWII paintings.
Posted by: Tyler K. | September 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM
I believe that it shouldn't matter to the prisoners because they are inprisoned and they can't do anything about it anyway. I also feel as though the prisoners are looking at it the wrong way because they should be proud that people want to sell they work.
Posted by: Jamar J. | September 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM
Yesssssssss Art Should Be Shown AnyWhere And At Anytime.. ????????
Posted by: Yolgaris A. | September 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM
The artwork could show many people what it was like in this mans life being unfairly imprisoned. It would be wrong to sell the artwork because it would help teach history or families that were related to this man could see what he was like. These pieces of art created by a man in history are important because he expresses himself in a way that shows what he went through and how it felt to be put in prison as an innocent man. Maybe these pieces show parts of his past or things he felt while being in prison.
Posted by: Christina A. | September 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM
Well I think their art work at that time was a way for them to express themselves. A form of the painting was more personal and self expressing.....There art work should of been used to educate children around the world and how it was and what it was like...Me personality think they should of did what they did and used the Painting for better and greater things and not for the highest bidder to buy.
Posted by: Ialinniyajah H. | September 24, 2015 at 1:42 PM
No they should not sell the paintings, the people who made the art have been captured. I think there should be a museum to teach people about art. The story behind it is awesome, it will teach them lots.
Posted by: Logan K. | September 24, 2015 at 1:43 PM
I think that the people that drew it and were held prisoner shold get the drawings back to them or their family members. You should not sell this to people who want it just because they had the highest bid, but putting it into a museum was the right thing to to because know tht is from worl war 2 and it is from prisoners who spent there time drawing or learning and other things.
Posted by: J.T. S. | September 24, 2015 at 1:43 PM
I believe that it shouldn't matter to the prisoners because they are inprisoned and they can't do anything about it anyway. I also feel as though the prisoners are looking at it the wrong way because they should be proud that people want to sell they work.
Posted by: Jamar J. | September 25, 2015 at 8:38 PM
I think it isn't fair I think the should of gave it to the museum in the first place.
Posted by: Miranda B. | September 29, 2015 at 1:59 PM
In my opinion i think it should have got put in a museum it is not fair that they did not!
Posted by: Emily w. | October 7, 2015 at 1:52 PM
The paintings drawn by the prisoners can tell a story about their life or any other thing that has to them in their life time. Just because, they are prisoners and everyone think their artwork might reflect the things they have done to get put in prison but they artwork really are reflecting their paintings on their life and life goals. Yes, because their paintings might be the only thing in their they have left and they might want their life stories told through their paintings to other people.
Posted by: Khalis H. | October 12, 2015 at 2:21 PM
If they would have sold the art the family of the prisoner would have never known about what he/she did. This art could be used for educational purposes for other people such as you and me. Just because he was a prisoner doesn't mean hes not worth anything. God made everyone who they are and some people just didn't like other people. I honostly am glad that the art is in a museum. If I ever had the chance to I would really like to go and see the artwork for myself. So if you would have sold the art what would you do keep the money or give it to someone who was part of the family?
Posted by: Alex A. | October 30, 2015 at 2:06 PM
I think that they should've given it to a museum instead of somebody else because they might not take good care of it. We could learn a lot from some of these paintings in school and even outside of school. The main thing is should they be able to sell it Yes they should be able to sell it to whoever they want because that person may love art and want to make some paintings like this or learn some more things about making art. Art is just a great thing to people it helps them show their feelings, what they have experienced, and many other things in their life.
Posted by: Chase B. | October 30, 2015 at 2:07 PM
They should not have sold iand should have put it in a museum to look at
Posted by: ruston r. | October 30, 2015 at 2:07 PM
The way these prints could teach is about printmaking in general and about japanese inprisonment camps in world war 2 and it is just plain wrong to take sombody else's print they made when you inprisoned them and then sell it you're a greedy if you think that is okay.
Posted by: james g. | October 30, 2015 at 2:07 PM
I think that they should've given it to a museum instead of some one else because they might not take good care of it. We could learn a lot from these paintings in school and even outside of school. The main thing is should they be able to sell it Yes they should be able to sell it to whoever they want because that person may love art and want to make some paintings like this or learn some more things about making art. Art is just a great thing to people it helps them show their feelings, what they have experienced, and many other things in their life.
Posted by: Haley S. | November 6, 2015 at 4:52 PM
If they would have sold the art the prisoner would have never known about what he accomplished. This art could be used for educational purposes. Just because he was a prisoner doesn't mean hes not talented.I honestly am glad that the art is in a museum. If I ever had the chance I would really like to go and see the artwork for myself.
Posted by: Job S. | November 6, 2015 at 4:52 PM
In my opinion i think it should have got put in a museum it is not fair that they did not!
Posted by: Emily w. | November 6, 2015 at 4:54 PM
I think that the people that drew it and were held prisoner shold get the drawings back to them or their family members. You should not sell this to people who want it just because they had the highest bid, but putting it into a museum was the right thing to to because know tht is from worl war 2 and it is from prisoners who spent there time drawing or learning and other things.
Posted by: J.T. S. | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
No they should not sell the paintings, the people who made the art have been captured. I think there should be a museum to teach people about art. The story behind it is awesome, it will teach them lots.
Posted by: Logan K. | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
I think that was wrong because that was something from a family member that they should keep
Posted by: King s. | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
No they should not sell the paintings, the people who made the art have been captured. I think there should be a museum to teach people about art. The story behind it is awesome, it will teach them lots.
Posted by: Logan K. | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
??????????They should sell the paintings and give it back to the people's family. They should also raise money to get the other people the education they need. ??????????
Posted by: ??????Ramon n. | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
I agree with Gavin E. because you can't take someone's drawing without their permission.
Posted by: Slendy . | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
Yesssssssss Art Should Be Shown AnyWhere And At Anytime.. ????????
Posted by: Yolgaris A. | November 6, 2015 at 4:56 PM
If they would have sold the art the family of the prisoner would have never known about what he/she did. This art could be used for educational purposes for other people such as you and me. Just because he was a prisoner doesn't mean hes not worth anything. God made everyone who they are and some people just didn't like other people. I honostly am glad that the art is in a museum. If I ever had the chance to I would really like to go and see the artwork for myself. So if you would have sold the art what would you do keep the money or give it to someone who was part of the family?
Posted by: Alex A. | November 6, 2015 at 5:45 PM
I think that they should've given it to a museum instead of somebody else because they might not take good care of it. We could learn a lot from some of these paintings in school and even outside of school. The main thing is should they be able to sell it Yes they should be able to sell it to whoever they want because that person may love art and want to make some paintings like this or learn some more things about making art. Art is just a great thing to people it helps them show their feelings, what they have experienced, and many other things in their life.
Posted by: Chase B. | November 6, 2015 at 5:45 PM
I believe that the americans shouldn't have wrote an apology to them for the disgreaseful act.
Posted by: Michael J. | November 6, 2015 at 5:45 PM
they shouldn't have done that no matter what. they are enslaving humans that's not and plus they new what they were losing they brought the u.s. into it just for there backup they didn't want to lose the war so they stole the people of america and then stole the arts that the people would make.
Posted by: kristoefr b. | November 6, 2015 at 5:45 PM
No I think they should have given the art to the museum in the first place.
Posted by: haley . | November 6, 2015 at 5:45 PM
they could educate people by telling them about the past and the history of the japince.
Posted by: austin w. | November 6, 2015 at 5:46 PM
I think they should put the art in a museum because some people worked so hard on that painting and people may buy it and not take good care of it. I think it is a pretty cool painting I would buy it and take good care of it because if you buy it and don't take care of it that will be wasting your money on a pretty art piece. People buy the paintings and don't take care of them so other people may want to buy that painting and they could be out and somebody would not take care of it and somebody wants it and they will take care of it that is why I post this because I'm tired of people messing up stuff that is stupid I want that painting.
Posted by: Trenton P. | November 6, 2015 at 5:46 PM
In my opinion i think it should have got put in a museum it is not fair that they did not!
Posted by: Emily w. | December 1, 2015 at 8:48 PM
i feel like the art work should be sold to who ever purchases it. They should be able to sell the art no matter what it was made to be seen and to inspirational to others. they should tell the ways of how this art was made in the long process it took to make it.
Posted by: Joshua P. | December 1, 2015 at 8:50 PM
I believe that those Japaneses artist did't even know if they were going to live another day. They are making excuses for the artist just to get them in museums. People could see them in museums possibly in the future but for now it belongs to that family and no one should tell them what they have to do(like the king of England and the pilgrims!) The government is not involved it makes me really agitated!
Posted by: Elen S. | December 1, 2015 at 8:50 PM

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