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A Muse Amidst the War: The Life of Estelle Ishigo Essay

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Estelle Ishigo is a Caucasian woman who lived during the World War II. Unlike her fellow women who have also lived during her time, Ishigo showed an exceptional amount of bravery and determination to outwit the challenges and tests of war. Instead of abandoning her Japanese American husband Arthur, Ishigo opted to accompany him together with other Japanese Americans. A painter and an illustrator, Ishigo sketched what she has seen and experienced during her stay in the internment camps in Pomona, California and Heart Mountain in Wyoming. These talents of Ishigo were utilized to serve those in need.

In Heart Mountain Camp, Ishigo was allowed by the War Relocation Authority to illustrate images of the people during war. Most of Ishigo’s works were used to depict not only the actual events and people affected by the war, but the emotions they carry as well. Ishigo was successful in describing through her works the scenario in the internment camps. Most of her subjects were the Japanese Americans—how they managed to live and survive the war. Interestingly, the Japanese Americans were still full of courage, hope, and dignity to build a home under such crucial circumstances. These emotions were very much evident in Ishigo’s ilustrations.

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The life in the internment camps was actually as hard as living as a soldier of war. The War Relocation Authority had described the internment camps as a barracks covered by tar paper and no cooking or plumbing facilities. The Heart Mountain Relocation, being surrounded by barbed wire, was inadequate to provide the interns budget, toilets, and beds. In addition, the cold weather made it much harder for the interns to live within the camps. Curfew has also been observed which caused some reported shootouts.

Work Cited

Ishigo, Estelle. Lone Heart Mountain. Heart Mountain High School Class of 1947 (1989)

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