In the middle of extreme inhumanity, some of us go more deeply and courageously into our humanity and act from this place. The Japanese-American artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi brought the best of his humanity, dignity, and a sense of the capacity of beauty and art to elevate people during a horrendous time. He did so during World War II, when the United States federal government uprooted thousands of Japanese citizens and American citizens of Japanese descent living in the western states and forced them into internment camps. His example shines today, and one can see the fruits of his stance and art in a current exhibit at the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, Queens.
While I am a walker in any season, spring in New York City seems to jump-start an opportunity to see new, or relatively new, exhibits. It’s also a season in which many simply look up and around more in the warmer weather and notice street sightings of architecture and art. A great setting-off point to inspire that are the Noguchi exhibit examining the works of an artist dealing with World War II and three photography exhibits that portray New York in the immediate years after the war.
The title of the Noguchi museum’s exhibit tells a startling fact as a place to begin: “Self-Interned, 1942.” Noguchi made an extraordinary decision in 1942 as he saw the government displacing others. He decided to place himself into one of the internment camps, the Poston War Relocation Center, situated in the Arizona desert. He did so despite being exempt from internment as a New York State resident. As Noguchi put it, “Thus I willfully became part of humanity uprooted.” [Read more →]