Helix Project, California

April 2005

Manzanar and Japantown, California

On the first day of the project, preschool kids in Japantown made paintings and drawings on rice paper. On the second day, former internees of Japanese WWII internment camps and their relatives, returning to the Manzanar camp on their annual pilgrimage, made paintings and drawings based on their memories of the camps. With Connecticut airplane builder Mark Grusauski, Ellen then created a twenty-foot-tall sculpture out of Makrolon in Mark’s hangar. The shape of this large translucent sculpture, a DNA double helix, is to symbolize diversity and honor the Japanese Americans interned in the camps. Ellen collaged the paintings and drawings from the California project onto the surface of the helix.