Monday, November 15, 2010

O! for the sea!

Isamu Noguchi

Relocation center at Poston, Arizona

Letter to Man Ray, from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art
(click on image to enlarge)

In February 1942, two months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. The document authorized the establishment of military areas as relocation centers for over 110,000 Americans of Japanese heritage for the purpose of national security. The order applied to residents of California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Arkansas.

As a resident of New York, the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi was not required to report for relocation. As a conscientious objector, he worked to halt the internment by writing letters to officials, attending hearings and finally, arriving at Poston camp to enroll as a voluntary internee. Noguchi was at Poston from May to November of 1942, where he worked in the carpentry shop and created designs for recreational areas in the camp. Amid accusations of espionage by the FBI, the frustrated artist returned to New York.

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