Joe Wyatt
Published October 25, 2016

Images of Japanese Internment in 1942, authorized, then confiscated, and finally released by the U.S. government, comprise the first exhibit in the reemergence of the Southern Light Gallery on Amarillo College’s Washington Street Campus.

Lange photo 3The photographs, taken by the late Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), were commissioned by the U.S. War Relocation Authority (WRA); however, the images were deemed so critical that they were confiscated during the war and have only recently been published by the Densho Archive.

All the images are public domain and were downloaded from the Library of Congress or the Densho Archive.

The Southern Light Gallery, which has been in operation since the 1970s, had been dormant for the past year due to renovations on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons. It now resides afresh along the walls by the Ware elevators.

“We’re excited to be back in business, and this is a great exhibit,” said René West, assistant professor of photography. “Dorothea Lange made over 750 photographs of Japanese American citizens – before the evacuation, during the roundup, at temporary evacuation centers, and finally at Manzanar, the largest internment camp in California.

“With her cameras, she unflinchingly documented their living conditions at the time.”

West notes that the new exhibit was chosen to provide historical context for AC’s Common Reader, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

That book by Jamie Ford is a bestselling novel that spotlights the volatile period during which thousands of families were relegated to U.S. internment camps.

Internment by the WRA was ordered by President Franklin Roosevelt shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Lange was hired to document each step of the process. Even though the government denied her access to the worst conditions, her images were still so critical they were impounded.

For more information about the Lange photo exhibit or the Southern Light Gallery, please contact René West at or 806-345-5654.