CULTURE & ARTS

Sculptor Who Voluntarily Went To Japanese Prison Camp To Help Became Trapped Himself

Japanese-American artist wanted to use art to make prison camps more humane.

In 1941, the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi was living in Los Angeles, angling for portrait commissions from Hollywood patrons. On December 7th, he was driving down the coast, on an errand to pick up art supplies, when he learned, from a news report on the radio, of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “With a flash I realized I was no longer the sculptor alone,” he recalled years later, in his autobiography. “I was not just American but Nisei. A Japanese-American.”

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