Inaugural Exhibit Wins Acclaim
OC Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum's Show Lands National Award
July 29, 2008
By Mimi Ko Cruz
"Sowing Dreams, Cultivating Lives: Nikkei Farmers in Pre-World War II Orange County," the inaugural exhibit of the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum at the Fullerton Arboretum, has garnered national acclaim.
Curator Stephanie George and designer Carlota F. Haider created the exhibit when they were Cal State Fullerton graduate students. Both have since graduated and will receive the 2008 Award of Merit Sept. 12 from the American Association for State and Local History in New York.
Carlota F. Haider stands before the exhibit she designed for the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum in the Fullerton Arboretum. “Sowing Dreams” was honored by the American Association for State and Local History in New York. Photo by Patrick O’Donnell
"That was our first exhibit," said George, who works on campus as the Center for Oral and Public History’s archivist. "Receiving this national recognition is very exciting, not only for us personally but for the museum, the arboretum and the university. It speaks to the education that we received here."
"Sowing Dreams," which ran throughout 2007, highlighted the experiences of Japanese American farmers who settled and lived in Orange County during the years leading up to their relocation and internment in spring 1942. The exhibit was based on oral histories and photographs from the university’s Center for Oral and Public History and covered immigration, family life, social organizations and farming. The exhibit featured an original mixed-media piece by New York-based artist Mike Saijo, based on local photographs and writings in Echo magazine — published by Orange County’s Japanese American community before World War II. The 7 feet by 10 feet work reflects the sense of community spirit of the Japanese American farmers. The art piece has found a permanent home in the university's Pollak Library.
George and Haider worked with several CSUF departments — from anthropology and biology to history and visual arts — in creating the exhibit.
In their award letter, Terry L. Davis, AASLH president and chief executive officer, wrote that the award is the prize for the "the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history."