Local Artists Honored at Artists' Reception at Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

“This has been such an incredible experience for us. We never imagined when it all started that it would turn out like this.” Jeanne Knudsen’s emotion and enthusiasm were clear when she spoke Thursday night at the Artists’ Reception at Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. Nearly 100 people attended the Reception held in honor of the 18 artists whose work makes up the Fabric of Memory exhibit at Heart Mountain. The exhibit showcases 23 pieces of “fabric art.” Each of the individual works, rendered in textiles, powerfully commemorates the events that occurred at the “Heart Mountain Relocation Center” over 70 years ago. Seventeen of the artists, all of whom were present at the reception, are members of the Textile Artists of Greater Yellowstone (TAGY), a local group of talented crafters that use a unique medium to express themselves. They hail from Cody, Lovell, Meeteetse, Powell, Sheridan, and Thermopolis. [image: Naoko Yoshimura Ito and her daughter Patricia view the TAGY quilts on display.jpg] The eighteenth artist came from further away. Naoko Yoshimura Ito flew in from Berkeley, CA to attend Thursday’s reception. According to TAGY member Jan Wilbur, “the highlight of the night was, without a doubt, meeting Mrs. Ito.” An accomplished quilt artist, Ito’s story quilt “Letting Go” stands in the center of the Gallery at Heart Mountain, surrounded by the works from TAGY artists. “My mother was incarcerated at Heart Mountain, along with her parents and her four brothers, when she was 15 years-old,” Ito’s daughter, Patricia, explained to the crowd gathered at the Center. Ito and her family were uprooted from their Bay Area home when the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans to evacuate the West Coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Ito was sent to Heart Mountain, but in a twist of fate, all of her friends from school were sent to a different confinement site. So, Ito was alone at Heart Mountain, with only her brothers for company. During their time at “camp” Ito and one of her brothers adopted a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. Their father built a cage so that the children could care for it. Eventually, they realized that they needed to let the bird go. “My mother depicts this moment in her quilt,” Patricia said. “She shows two children, who are not free themselves, letting go of this bird.” [image: Visitors at the Reception view Mrs. Ito's quilt Letting Go.jpg] Ito created the quilt in 1990. It once hung in the Oakland Museum, has been the subject of a national poster for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and is now showcased at Heart Mountain, the very place that inspired her heartbreaking story. “This exhibit is a poignant reminder that what happened at Heart Mountain affects not only the Japanese Americans who lived through it, but all of us,” says Brian Liesinger, Executive Director of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. “And it’s another extraordinary example of the kindness and generosity of our Greater Yellowstone neighbors.” Visitors to Heart Mountain will have the opportunity to see the special exhibition Fabric of Memory showcased in the Ford Foundation Gallery until May 28. TAGY and the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation are also planning to create a book featuring the quilts and their artists. Donations to fund the publishing of the book are being collected now. In addition, the possibility of traveling the exhibit throughout Wyoming, the region, and even the country, is being explored. The Artists of TAGY featured in the Fabric of Memory exhibit are: *Cody *– Jeanne M. Knudsen, Jan Wilbur, Pam Harris, Jan Hoar, Ginger Dager, Barbara Harrison, Karling Clymer Abernathy, Rebecca True, Alice Flyr *Lovell* – Carolyn Aichele *Meeteetse *– Lili Turnell *Powell* – Linda H. MacDonald, Patty Mayfield, Pat Larsen, Marybeth Richardson *Sheridan* – Carol Kolf *Thermopolis *– Kathy Hammond [image: Executinve Director Brian Liesinger introduces the TAGY artists.jpg] [image: A visitor examines the artwork at the Reception.JPG] [image: Jeanne Knudsen of TAGY speaks at the Reception, her fello artists by her side.jpg] [image: Visitors enjoy the Fabric of Memory exhibit.JPG] *All Images: h/t Heart Mountain Interpretive Center / Pitchengine Communities * #reboot #springcity #dally #news