Japanese American National Museum
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Documentary, Our Mess Hall

Sugimoto, Henry [ bio ]

Documentary, Our Mess Hall
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H: 24 in, W: 30 in, Frame: 26 x 32 in

Denson, Ark., 1942


Gift of Madeleine Sugimoto and Naomi Tagawa, Japanese American National Museum


Stretched and framed.

A group of eight people eat fish and rice at a table. In the foreground, with their backs to the viewer, a woman in rust red with white pattern feeds her child dressed in blue in the lower left ; seated next to them a man in blue overalls shovels rice with his chopsticks and arms upraised ; a boy in black and white stripes eats in lower right. Seated across the table in the upper left, facing the viewer, an old woman with brown sweater and blue scarf eats next to a boy in green who refuses food with upraised hands and turning head from his mother dressed in red over yellow in the center ; a girl in blue with white collar and a red bow in her hair pokes at her food on the upper right. White plates of fish and rice sit on the long wooden table next to white cups. At table center are salt and pepper shakers and two other condiment bottles. In the background on the wall are two brownish signs with black print, "No Second Serving!" and "Milk for Children and Sick people only."

Signed in medium, bottom left corner: H Sugimoto Written on back: by Henry Sugimoto 1942

"Of course, it was impossible to be picky about what you wanted to eat. They knew that the Japanese really liked rice, so rice was always part of the menu at least once a day. However, there were times when the rest of the meal didn't really go with rice. At times, there would be food that just wasn't appetizing at all, so you had to either try to eat at least one bite or just go without the meal." (from Henry Sugimoto's diaries)

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