CCAD Student Illustrates Family Memoirs

February 7th, 2012 by Katlin McNally
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Jeff Ockerse's cover illustration

Last year Illustration major Jeff Ockerse decided to add a personal project to an already rigorous year—illustrating a cover for his grandfather’s memoirs.

The recently published book, Our Childhood in the Former Colonial Dutch East Indies: Recollections Before and During Our Wartime Internment by the Japanese, is a memoir byRalph Ockerse about he and his sister Evelijn Blaney. It describes their life growing up in the former Dutch East Indies during World War II. Their family spent three-and-a-half years in an internment camp during the Japanese occupation.

Ockerse, a CCAD sophomore, sat down with his grandfather Ralph and listened to his depictions of the internment camp and the guards. Ockerse was also able to look over rough sketches that his family made to illustrate their experiences.

“My grandpa described the look of the officers to me, and I was able to see sketches of trenches and the people they worked with to get an idea of how I wanted to bring these memories to life,” Ockerse said.

His goal was to interpret and represent the struggle for survival. The illustration features a Japanese soldier walking among captured youths. Ockerse painted a large red sun, which is a symbol of Japan’s flag, as a looming presence.

“I am excited to see the published book; it will be neat to finally see it in print,” said Ockerse.

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