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5. Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi in Poston War Relocation Center

noguchi-mother-child-untapped-cities-afinelyneIsamu Noguchi “Mother and Child” 1944-1947. Photo by Kevin Noble.

February 19, 2017 will mark the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 – the wartime directive that authorized the internment of Japanese citizens and American citizens of Japanese heritage living on the West Coast. The artist, Isamu Noguchi was living in New York at the time, making him exempt from internment. However, his desire as a Japanese-American citizen to contribute to the “forcibly displaced community of Japanese Americans” led him to voluntarily enter the Poston War Relocation Center in the Arizona Desert, “Thus I willfully became part of humanity uprooted. “His hope was to remake the camp into a more humane environment, by adding such familiar amenities as swimming pools, baseball fields, and the like. After two months, it became clear that he would receive no support from the authorities who originally backed his ideas, and he prepared to leave. However it would ultimately take seven months before he could leave the camp.

The exhibit “Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi in Poston War Relocation Center” curated by Noguchi Museum Senior Curator, Dakin Hart, brings together two dozen works taken from the Museum’s collection, that date back before, during and after Noguchi’s time at Poston, from 1941 to 1944. The later works clearly show the impact that Noguchi’s time at Poston had on his art. In addition, a substantial selection of archival documents are included in the exhibit, including blueprints showing the proposed improvements he hoped to make at Poston, and a design for a cemetery. Published articles on the unrest in the camps, and related documents and letters are also on view.

Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi in Poston War Relocation Center will be on view from January 18, 2017 to January 7, 2018. The Noguchi Museum is located at 9-01 33rd Road, at Vernon Boulevard, in Long Island City. Read more in the book The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey Without Borders.

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