Artbound

S10 E1 | FULL EPISODE

Masters of Modern Design

From the iconic typeface of “The Godfather” book cover to Herman Miller’s Noguchi table, the influence of Japanese American artists and designers in postwar American art and design is unparalleled. While this second generation of Japanese American artists have been celebrated in various publications and exhibitions with their iconic work, less-discussed are the effects of the WWII incarceration.

AIRED: May 17, 2019 | 0:56:06
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

[JAZZ PLAYING]

KRIS KURAMITSU: WE HAVE THIS

IDYLLIC IMAGE OF 1950s AMERICA

WITH FAMILIES BUYING HOMES IN

THE SUBURBS, THERE'S JAZZ

PLAYING ON THE STEREO,

TECHNOLOGY IS USHERING IN THE

NEW JET AGE...

BUT WHILE THAT STEREOTYPE WAS

TRUE FOR SOME, THAT PARTICULAR

AMERICAN DREAM WAS NOT AVAILABLE

TO EVERYONE, NOT EVEN SOME OF

THOSE ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS

WHOSE WORK REALLY VISUALLY

DEFINE THAT ERA.

ALEXANDRA LANGE: NOT ONLY ARE

ALL OF THESE ARTWORKS

IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZABLE ICONS

OF POST-WAR AMERICAN ART AND

DESIGN, BUT THEIR SECOND

GENERATION JAPANESE AMERICAN

MAKERS SHARE A COMMON BOND

BEYOND THEIR ETHNICITY.

[MAN VOCALIZING]

ANNOUNCER: THIS PROGRAM WAS

MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY A

GRANT FROM ANNE RAY FOUNDATION,

A MARGARET A. CARGILL

PHILANTHROPY; THE

LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF

SUPERVISORS THROUGH THE

LOS ANGELES COUNTY ARTS

COMMISSION; THE LOS ANGELES

DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS;

THE CALIFORNIA HUMANITIES; AND

THE CALIFORNIA ARTS COUNCIL.

ASAWA: WE LIVED OUT IN THE

COUNTRY BY THE SAN GABRIEL

RIVER.

ADDIE LANIER: IT WAS A VERY

HARD-SCRABBLE, FARMING LIFE FOR

HER.

AIKO CUNEO: SHE WAS

ARGUMENTATIVE, SO SHE OFTEN WAS

WORKING BY HERSELF IN THE

FIELD, AND SHE WAS VERY GOOD AT

STRINGING UP THE STRING BEANS.

ASAWA: AND THAT USED TO BE MY

JOB EVERY YEAR, YEAR IN, YEAR

OUT. YOU STRING THE BOTTOM, YOU

STRING THE MIDDLE, AND YOU

STRING THE TOP, AND THEN YOU'D

SEE A WHOLE GREAT BIG 5 ACRES.

LANIER: SHE HAD THE KIND OF

ENERGY THAT YOU REALLY ONLY SEE

IN IMMIGRANT CHILDREN. IT'S

THIS RELENTLESS KIND OF LABOR.

IT DOESN'T STOP. SHE DIDN'T

WEED, YOU KNOW, ONE WEED AT A

TIME. SHE HAD TWO HANDS GOING.

OBATA: MY PARENTS BOTH CAME

FROM JAPAN. THEY WERE BOTH

ARTISTS. MY MOTHER WAS A FLORAL

DESIGNER, AND MY FATHER WAS A

PAINTER.

MY FATHER'S FAMILY GO BACK

MANY, MANY, GENERATIONS OF

PAINTERS IN THE SENDAI AREA.

KIKU OBATA: MY FATHER GREW UP

IN SAN FRANCISCO. HE ALWAYS

TALKED ABOUT HOW HIS LIFE WAS

FILLED WITH ART, THAT HE FELT

LIKE HE WAS AN ARTIST WHEN HE

WAS GROWING UP. FROM A VERY

EARLY AGE, HE WAS REALLY

FOCUSED ON BEING AN ARCHITECT.

HE WOULD SAY THAT HIS MOTHER

TOLD HIM THAT, AS AN ARTIST,

PAINTING WAS ONE THING, BUT IF

YOU'RE AN ARCHITECT, YOU'RE

BUILDING ART.

MIRA: HE WENT INTO

ARCHITECTURE, AND HE GOT A

MASTER'S FROM MIT IN 1930.

HE GOT A JOB WITH ANTONIN

RAYMOND IN TOKYO AND WORKED

ALONGSIDE THE JAPANESE AND

INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTS, WHO

WERE WORKING WITH MR. RAYMOND

AT THE TIME.

GEORGE NAKASHIMA: SO I MET MY

RELATIVES, ESPECIALLY MY

GRANDMOTHER. SHE HAD A

BEAUTIFUL FARMHOUSE OUT IN THE

OUTSKIRTS OF TOKYO, AND I LIVED

ENTIRELY LIKE A JAPANESE.

MIRA: HE WANTED TO HAVE AN

INTEGRATED PROCESS, WHICH IS

WHY HE TURNED TO FURNITURE. HE

SAID FURNITURE IS THE SAME AS

ARCHITECTURE ON A SMALLER

SCALE, AND YOU CAN CONTROL IT

FROM BEGINNING TO END, AND IT

WOULD BE AN INTEGRATED PROCESS.

NOGUCHI: PERHAPS BECAUSE OF MY

BIRTH AND MIXED NATIONALITY, I

ALWAYS FELT A LITTLE UNCERTAIN

AS TO WHERE I BELONGED, AND I

WAS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR SOME

PLACE WHERE I WOULD FEEL AT

HOME.

DAKIN HART: HE ALWAYS HAD A

SENSE OF CIVIC PURPOSE. HE WAS

INTERESTED IN SCULPTURE BECAUSE

HE WAS A CIVILIZATION BUILDER.

AMY LYFORD: HIS TIME IN NEW

YORK IN THE EARLY TO MID-1930s

WAS REALLY MARKED BY HIS ACTIVE

ENGAGEMENT IN SOCIAL ACTIVISM

AND THINKING WITH OTHER ARTISTS

ABOUT HOW ART COULD BE A FORCE

FOR SOCIAL CHANGE. IN THE

1930s, HE BEGAN TO GET VERY

INVOLVED WITH THE PUBLIC WORKS

OF ART PROGRAM.

HART: HE WAS PROPOSING LAND

ART FROM THE EARLY THIRTIES

ON, NONE OF WHICH WERE BUILT.

SO HE WAS LOOKING FOR

OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE WORK THAT

WAS AT THE CENTER OF CIVIC LIFE.

KENJI FUJITA: HE WAS BORN IN

1921 IN WAIMEA, WHICH IS A

LITTLE TOWN ON KAUAI.

HAWAII WAS A REALLY FORMATIVE

EXPERIENCE FOR HIM.

TOM WOLF: HE HAD FRIENDS OF A

VARIETY OF ETHNICITIES. IT WAS

A PRETTY MIXED VILLAGE. IT WAS

NOT ALL JAPANESE BY ANY MEANS.

KENJI: HE WAS SENT TO A

BOARDING SCHOOL IN HONOLULU,

AND ONE OF HIS TEACHERS IN HIGH

SCHOOL TAUGHT AN ART CLASS, AND

HE TOOK IT AND DID REALLY WELL,

AND THIS TEACHER REALLY

ENCOURAGED HIM.

HE LEFT, I THINK, WHEN HE WAS

18. GOT ON A BOAT WITHOUT

KNOWING ANYBODY, AND HAD NO

CONTACTS AT ALL IN L.A. AND

JUST WENT.

HE FOUND A ROOM, I THINK IN A

BOARDING HOUSE, IN LITTLE TOKYO.

I THINK CHOUINARD APPEALED TO

HIM BECAUSE IT WAS THE MOST,

LIKE, HANDS-ON AS AN ART SCHOOL

OF ALL THE ONES HE VISITED. IT

GAVE HIM AT THAT TIME A KIND OF

PURPOSE IN LIFE. IT WAS LIKE

THIS COULD LEAD SOMEWHERE. YOU

KNOW, OF COURSE, THAT WAS

INTERRUPTED BY THE WAR.

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: YESTERDAY,

DECEMBER 7, 1941, A DATE WHICH

WILL LIVE IN INFAMY.

ASAWA: WE WERE IN THE FIELDS

ALREADY, AND IT WAS ABOUT

11:00, AND WE WERE TOLD TO COME

IN AND GOT THE NEWS. TWO FBI

MEN CAME TO PICK OUR FATHER UP.

WE IRONED A SHIRT FOR HIM, AND

HE WENT OFF. I DIDN'T HEAR FROM

HIM FOR MANY YEARS.

BRIAN NIIYA: PRESSURE FROM WEST

COAST POLITICAL AND BUSINESS

LEADERS, THE WAR DEPARTMENT,

AND THE ARMY EVENTUALLY

CONVINCED PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT

TO SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 ON

FEBRUARY 19, 1942, WHICH

AUTHORIZED THE WAR DEPARTMENT

TO REMOVE ALL JAPANESE

AMERICANS FROM THE WEST COAST

STATES.

KAREN ISHIZUKA: SO THERE WAS

ABOUT 110,000 MEN, WOMEN, AND

CHILDREN WHO WERE FORCIBLY

REMOVED FROM THEIR HOMES FROM

THESE AREAS.

ASAWA: WE LOST FARM EQUIPMENT,

THE HORSES. WE HAD NOTHING

AFTER THAT.

CUNEO: THEY WERE SENT TO THE

SANTA ANITA RACE TRACK, AND

THERE WERE HORSE STALLS THAT

WERE WHITEWASHED, AND THAT'S

WHAT THE FAMILY LIVED IN.

ASAWA: NOTHING WAS CONNECTED,

THE LAUNDRY AND THE TOILET, ALL

THAT. THERE WAS NO PRIVACY.

MARILYN CHASE: RUTH WAS

INCLINED TO FIND THE GOOD IN

THE GRIMMEST OF SITUATIONS, BUT

SOMETHING KIND OF MAGICAL DID

HAPPEN IN SANTA ANITA. 3 MEN

ARRIVED FROM DISNEY

STUDIOS--TOM OKAMOTO, CHRIS

ISHII, AND JAMES TANAKA, AND

THEY HAD BEEN SUCCESSFUL YOUNG

ANIMATORS ON ANIMATED

FULL-LENGTH FEATURES.

ASAWA: THEY ALL 3 CAME TO

TEACH. I STUDIED WITH TOM, AND

HE TAUGHT US TO DRAW.

LANIER: SHE JUST LOVED DRAWING

WITH THEM AND BEING TAUGHT BY

PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS. AFTER

SANTA ANITA, MY MOTHER AND HER

FAMILY ARE SHIPPED TO ROHWER,

IN McGEE, ARKANSAS. MABLE ROSE

JAMESON, WHO WAS THE ART

TEACHER, WOULD TAKE

SOME OF THE KIDS OUTSIDE THE

CAMP TO SKETCH AND TO DRAW.

ASAWA: WE DID, LIKE, THE SUMO

WRESTLERS, AND WE DID

LANDSCAPES.

LANIER: SHE ILLUSTRATED THE

CAMP YEARBOOK. THEY DIDN'T HAVE

PHOTOGRAPHS, SO MY MOTHER DID

CARICATURES OF CLASSMATES. SO

SHE MADE THE BEST OF IT.

CHASE: IT KIND OF SET THE STAGE

FOR HER BELIEF THAT "ART SAVED

US DURING THE INTERNMENT." SHE

WOULD SAY THAT OFTEN, "ART

SAVED US."

KIKU: MY FATHER WAS A FRESHMAN

AT CAL IN ARCHITECTURE WHEN

PEARL HARBOR HAPPENED.

OBATA: BEING A STUDENT IN

COLLEGE, YOU DIDN'T THINK ABOUT

THESE THINGS VERY MUCH UNTIL

THEN IT DAWNED ON MY FATHER

THAT MAYBE I SHOULD TRY TO GET

OUT OF CALIFORNIA. IF YOU GOT

AN ACCEPTANCE BY ANY COLLEGE

OUTSIDE OF THE 3 STATES ON THE

WEST COAST, THEY MIGHT RELEASE

YOU. I SENT A REQUEST TO

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST.

LOUIS. THEY SAID THAT THEY

WOULD ACCEPT ME, AND THE NIGHT

BEFORE MY FAMILY WAS TO BE SENT

TO CAMP, I LEFT BERKELEY

ON A TRAIN TO ST. LOUIS.

MY FATHER WAS A PROFESSOR AT

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA IN

BERKELEY. WHEN HE GOT TO THESE

CAMPS, MY FATHER IMMEDIATELY

SET UP SCHOOLS FOR THE YOUNG

CHILDREN.

KAY SEKIMACHI: MY YOUNGER

SISTER AND I WENT OUT AND

PAINTED EVERY DAY, AND WE WOULD

GO TO THE ART SCHOOL AND WATCH

PROFESSOR OBATA DEMONSTRATE.

KIMI KODANI HILL: OBATA SAID

THAT EDUCATION WAS AS IMPORTANT

AS FOOD TO THE INDIVIDUAL, AND

FOR HIM, ART EDUCATION, IN

PARTICULAR, WOULD REALLY HELP

YOU RISE ABOVE YOUR

CIRCUMSTANCES.

SEKIMACHI: EVERYBODY WAS

PAINTING IN ALL MEDIA, BUT I

LOVED WATERCOLORS.

KODANI HILL: TANFORAN WAS THE

TEMPORARY CAMP, AND SO

EVENTUALLY, BY SEPTEMBER, ALL

8,000 INTERNEES WERE THEN GOING

TO BE TRANSPORTED BY TRAIN TO

THE DESERT OF UTAH, WHICH WAS

THE SO-CALLED PERMANENT CAMP.

ISHIZUKA: THERE WERE 10

PERMANENT CAMPS THAT WERE

ASSEMBLED TO HOLD JAPANESE

AMERICANS. MOST OF THEM WERE IN

VERY ISOLATED AREAS OF THE

UNITED STATES.

OBATA: THE IRONY WAS I WAS A

FREE MAN IN ST. LOUIS, AND I

WAS ALLOWED AT CHRISTMASTIME TO

VISIT THEM WHILE THEY WERE

INCARCERATED.

KODANI HILL: THEY HADN'T SEEN

EACH OTHER FOR MONTHS OF

COURSE. HE WAS SO AMAZED TO SEE

HOW BROWN THEY WERE. THEY WERE

LIVING THE OUTDOOR LIFE REALLY,

AND THEY THOUGHT HE LOOKED SO

PALE--HA HA--BECAUSE HE WAS THE

STUDIOUS ARCHITECTURE STUDENT.

OBATA: SO I WENT TO CAMP, LIVED

WITH MY FAMILY IN THEIR SMALL

ROOM FOR TWO WEEKS, AND THEN

CAME OUT A FREE PERSON. JUST

REALLY A STRANGE SET OF

CIRCUMSTANCES.

KIKU: YOU GROW UP PRETTY

QUICKLY WHEN YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN

AND YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO'S

NOT IN CAMP, EVERYONE ELSE IN

YOUR FAMILY IS, SO I THINK YOU

BECOME PRETTY SERIOUS ABOUT WHO

YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.

NAKASHIMA: WE WERE PUT INTO

CONCENTRATION CAMPS ABOUT WHICH

MOST AMERICANS DIDN'T KNOW

ANYTHING.

MIRA: THE BUILDINGS WERE SORT

OF DONE, BUT THEY WEREN'T

COMPLETED, AND DAD AND THIS

JAPANESE CARPENTER WERE GIVEN

THE TASK OF TRYING TO MAKE THE

BARRACKS MORE LIVABLE THAN THEY

WERE. GENTARO HIKOGAWA, WHO

TRAINED AS A JAPANESE CARPENTER

IN JAPAN, AND THEY WORKED

ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER, AND DAD

LEARNED FROM HIM.

KURAMITSU: HE CONSIDERS THIS

PERIOD OF TIME WHILE HE WAS AT

MINIDOKA AS A PERIOD OF

APPRENTICESHIP, WHERE HE REALLY

LEARNED HOW TO WORK WITH WOOD

BY HAND.

MIRA: I THINK THAT WAS THE

BEGINNING OF LEARNING HOW TO

IMPROVISE WITH FOUND MATERIALS.

THERE WAS SOMETHING CALLED

BITTERBRUSH. HE AND GENTARO

WOULD GO AND GATHER PIECES

TOGETHER. THEY'RE VERY SMALL

AND TORTURED BUT VERY

INTERESTING FORMS, AND MANY OF

THEM APPARENTLY COLLECTED THIS

KIND OF WOOD AND MADE

SCULPTURAL OBJECTS OUT OF THEM.

IT WAS AN INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE

FOR MY FATHER.

LYFORD: NOGUCHI WAS THE ONLY

VOLUNTARY INTERNEE AT THE

POSTON CAMP.

SHOJI SADAO: HE REALIZED THAT

HE WAS A NISEI--JAPANESE

AMERICAN--WHEREAS UP UNTIL THEN

HE WAS AN AVANT-GARDE ARTIST,

TRAVELING MORE IN EUROPE AND

NEW YORK AND VERY LITTLE TO DO

WITH THE NISEI WORLD.

LYFORD: OFFICIALS IN D.C.

PROMISED NOGUCHI THAT HE WOULD

BE ABLE TO COME TO POSTON, THAT

HE WOULD BE ABLE TO START AN

ART PROGRAM, THAT HE WOULD HAVE

MATERIALS, HE WOULD HAVE

SUPPLIES, HE WOULD HAVE SPACE.

HART: HE HAD THIS PLAN FOR A

PUBLIC SWATHE OF SERVICES THAT

INCLUDED PARKS AND GARDENS AND

A PROPER CEMETERY AND A

MINIATURE GOLF COURSE AND

BASEBALL, EVERYTHING THAT YOU

WOULD EXPECT TO HAVE IN A GREAT

AMERICAN CITY.

HE REALLY THOUGHT THAT GOOD

DESIGN COULD FIX ANYTHING.

INITIALLY, ALL OF THE PLANNING

WAS HAPPENING IN THE BUREAU OF

INDIAN AFFAIRS. BY THE TIME THE

INTERNMENT CAMPS WERE ACTUALLY

FOUNDED, THEY ENDED UP IN THE

WAR DEPARTMENT, SO THE WAR

DEPARTMENT CHOSE TO EXECUTE

THEM AS PRISON CAMPS.

LYFORD: HE ARRIVED THINKING

THAT HE WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO

BUILD AN ART PROGRAM, AND WHEN

HE REALIZED QUITE QUICKLY

WITHIN THE FIRST SEVERAL WEEKS

THAT THE PROGRAM MIGHT NOT HAVE

THE KIND OF MATERIALS OR

FACILITIES THAT HE HAD

ENVISIONED, HE BECAME VERY

QUICKLY DISILLUSIONED.

HART: HE REALIZED HE SHARED

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN COMMON

WITH THE ISSEI. THERE WAS NO

COMMUNITY THERE FOR HIM, AND HE

REALIZED THAT HE HAD PARACHUTED

INTO A WORLD OF ALIENATION AND

THAT HE WAS IRONICALLY TOTALLY

ALIENATED FROM IT.

SADAO: YOU KNOW, ISAMU, AVANT

GARDE, INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN.

MOST OF THE NISEIS WERE VERY

CONVENTIONAL, YOU KNOW, AND

THEY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND ISAMU

COMING FROM ANOTHER WHOLE OTHER

WORLD, SO I DON'T THINK HE GOT

ALONG VERY WELL WITH THE NISEI

IN CAMP.

LYFORD: AND I BELIEVE THAT HE

FOUND HIMSELF TO BE AT THE

CENTER OF GREAT IRE FOR SEEMING

TO BE WORKING WITH THE CAMP

ADMINISTRATION.

HART: HE WAS THE ONLY ONE IN

THE ENTIRE CAMP OF 18,000

PEOPLE WITH HIS OWN SPACE. HE

HAD HIS OWN APARTMENT, AND HE

WAS ACCUSED OF BEING A

COLLABORATOR.

SADAO: HE REALIZED HE COULDN'T

REALLY DO MUCH, AND SO HE

WANTED TO LEAVE.

HART: THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE WAS

INCREDIBLY DISILLUSIONING FOR

HIM.

S. NEIL FUJITA: THIS IS THE

PRAIRIE WHERE THE SHOSHONES

LIVE, THE CROWS, THE ARAPAHOS,

BUT OUT IN THAT PLAIN, WHERE

TUMBLEWEEDS HAVE ROLLED,

THEY BUILT A CAMP WITH BARBED

WIRE AROUND IT THAT HELD 10,000

PEOPLE.

KENJI: THE EMOTIONAL TOLL WAS,

LIKE, REALLY SIGNIFICANT FOR

EVERYBODY, BUT IT WASN'T LIKE

HE LOST HIS HOME, IT WASN'T

LIKE HE LOST HIS BUSINESS, IT

WASN'T LIKE--YOU KNOW, THERE

WERE A LOT OF THINGS HE DID NOT

LOSE.

WOLF: AT HEART MOUNTAIN, HE

SEEMS TO HAVE HAD SOME POSITION

OF RESPONSIBILITY, SO HE BECAME

THE DESIGNER OF THE NEWSPAPER,

THE "HEART MOUNTAIN SENTINEL."

THERE'S A CONTOUR OUTLINE

DRAWING OF THE PROFILE OF THE

MOUNTAIN THAT HE DID. I GUESS

THAT WAS HIS START, I GUESS

THAT WAS HIS FIRST PROFESSIONAL

JOB.

MITCH MAKI: IN 1943, THE U.S.

ARMY REALIZED THAT THE WAR

EFFORT WAS GOING POORLY IN

EUROPE AND THAT THEY NEEDED

LITERALLY MORE MEN TO GO AND

FIGHT, SO THEY CAME UP WITH THE

IDEA OF CREATING A SEGREGATED

UNIT OF JAPANESE AMERICAN

SOLDIERS.

KENJI: EVERYONE WAS AWARE OF

THE FACT THAT IT'S HYPOCRITICAL

AND IMMORAL, BUT THE QUESTION

IS WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT? AND

HE VOLUNTEERED TO JOIN THE

ARMY, THE 442. HE DID HIS BASIC

TRAINING IN MISSISSIPPI.

FUJITA: I WAS IN TRAINING FOR

FOUR MONTHS, NOT ENOUGH TIME

REALLY TO LEARN ANYTHING FOR

COMBAT.

KENJI: HE ALSO TALKED ABOUT

GOING TO A RESTAURANT, HAVING

TO USE THE RESTROOM, AND HE WAS

SHOWN OUT THE BACK, AND THERE

WAS ONE SIDE WAS FOR COLOREDS,

AND ONE SIDE WAS FOR WHITE

PEOPLE, AND HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT

TO DO, SO HE BASICALLY WENT IN

BETWEEN THE TWO AND JUST PEED

ON THE SIDEWALK. HA HA HA! IT'S

PRETTY FUNNY.

MAKI: THEY WOULD GO ON TO

BECOME THE MOST HIGHLY

DECORATED UNIT OF THEIR SIZE IN

AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY FOR

THEIR LENGTH OF SERVICE.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE REASON WHY

THEY WERE SO HIGHLY DECORATED

IS BECAUSE SO MANY OF THEM WERE

AWARDED THE PURPLE HEART, AND

THAT'S THE MEDAL, OF COURSE,

THAT YOU RECEIVE WHEN YOU ARE

EITHER WOUNDED OR KILLED. NISEI

SOLDIERS DURING WORLD WAR II

UNDERSTOOD THAT LOYALTY NEEDED

TO BE DEMONSTRATED IN BLOOD.

[EXPLOSIONS]

KENJI: THE 442 WAS A PLACE THAT

ENABLED JAPANESE AMERICANS TO

RECLAIM SOME OF THEIR

LEGITIMACY DUE TO THEIR

SACRIFICE. IT'S WORTH NOTING

THAT THE BLACKS THAT SERVED IN

THE MILITARY WERE NOT ABLE TO

KIND OF USE THAT TO KIND OF

RECLAIM SOMETHING WHEN THEY

RETURNED, SO THERE WERE SOME

PARADOXES, WHICH WERE NOT LOST

ON HIM.

CHASE: RUTH IN HER HEART

WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST.

ASAWA: I WAS ADVISED TO BECOME

A TEACHER, SO I THOUGHT I WOULD

JUST GO TO TEACHER'S COLLEGE,

MILWAUKEE TEACHER'S COLLEGE.

LANIER: IT WAS STILL THE IDEA

OF "DO SOMETHING SENSIBLE, BE

RESPONSIBLE. YOU SHOULD HAVE A

SECURE CAREER."

CHASE: OF COURSE, ALL OF THE

INTERNED YOUTH HAD TO GO TO

SCHOOL IN THE HEARTLAND IN THE

MIDWEST AND STAY AWAY FROM THE

COASTS BECAUSE THE WAR WAS

STILL ON.

ASAWA: WHEN I WAS READY TO

PRACTICE TEACHING, THEY

WOULDN'T LET ME BECAUSE THEY

WERE WORRIED ABOUT MY SAFETY.

CHASE: THE ADMINISTRATION TOLD

HER THEY COULD NOT ASSIGN HER

TO STUDENT TEACHING AND THAT

SHE WOULD HAVE TO LEAVE WITHOUT

HER DEGREE BECAUSE OF RACISM,

BECAUSE OF BIAS.

ASAWA: SO I WENT TO BLACK

MOUNTAIN. HA HA HA!

CHASE: SHE HAD NO LONGER ANY

BARRIERS BETWEEN HER DESIRE TO

PURSUE HER LIFELONG DREAM OF

BECOMING A WORKING ARTIST.

JONATHAN LAIB: BLACK MOUNTAIN

COLLEGE WAS LOCATED JUST

OUTSIDE OF ASHEVILLE, NORTH

CAROLINA. IT BECAME THE PLACE

FOR THE MOST PROGRESSIVE ART

TEACHING IN THE WORLD.

STACI STEINBERGER: BLACK

MOUNTAIN BECOMES THIS

INCREDIBLY RICH INTELLECTUAL

COMMUNITY, BRINGING IN ARTISTS

OF ALL DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS

THAT YOU HAVE PEOPLE LIKE

JOSEF AND ANNI ALBERS COMING

IN, YOU KNOW, REFUGEES FROM

EUROPE.

LANIER: PEOPLE LIKE JACOB

LAWRENCE, BUCKY FULLER,

DE KOONING, MERCE CUNNINGHAM,

AND JOHN CAGE AND THESE PEOPLE

WHO BECAME VERY PROMINENT IN

AMERICAN ART.

CUNEO: RUTH ACTUALLY TOOK JOSEF

ALBERS FOR 3 YEARS, TOOK THE

SAME DESIGN COURSE FOR 3 YEARS

BECAUSE IT WAS DIFFERENT EVERY

SINGLE YEAR.

LANIER: IT WAS PRACTICALLY A

RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE FOR HER.

SHE WAS GIVEN THE PERMISSION TO

KIND OF BE HERSELF IN A VERY

DIFFERENT WAY. AFTER THE SUMMER

OF '47, SHE AND HER OLDER

SISTER CHIO WERE INVITED TO GO

ON THE QUAKER-SPONSORED

EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE DOWN IN

MEXICO. THERE WAS A MARKET, AND

MY MOTHER SAW THEM MAKING

BASKETS FOR EGGS, AND SHE ASKED

HIM TO TEACH HER HOW TO DO IT.

CUNEO: WHEN SHE CAME BACK TO

BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, SHE WAS

MAKING THESE MAD LITTLE BASKETS

OUT OF WIRE.

LANIER: AT SOME POINT, ONE OF

HER FRIENDS SAYS, "WHAT HAPPENS

IF YOU CLOSE IT UP?" AND THEN

ONCE YOU'D CLOSED IT UP, IT

BECAME A SUSPENDED OBJECT AS

OPPOSED TO A VERY FUNCTIONAL

BASKET.

CHASE: ONE THING THAT SHE SAID

ABOUT IT WAS THAT IT WAS LIKE

DRAWING IN SPACE. IT WAS LIKE

DRAWING IN 3 DIMENSIONS, AND

THAT WAS THE KIND OF LINK WITH

HER TRAINING BY ALBERS.

LANIER: IT WAS THIS TRANSPARENT

FORM, AND IT WAS MADE WITH THIS

VERY SIMPLE, REPETITIVE, KIND

OF LIKE STRINGING THOSE GREEN

BEANS. YEAH.

LAIB: IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE MOST

PEOPLE WOULD JUST ASSUME

HER WORK IS "ASIAN," AND THEN

IT'S EXCITING TO BE ABLE TO

POINT OUT THAT, NO, HER WORK IS

VERY MULTICULTURAL. SHE WAS

AMAZING AT BEING ABLE TO TAKE

ALL OF THESE INFLUENCES AND

COMBINE THEM INTO ONE SINGLE

STATEMENT.

LANIER: BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE

WAS THIS UNIQUE LITTLE PLACE IN

THE WORLD, WHERE YOU COULD BE

AN INTERRACIAL COUPLE AND

NOBODY WOULD HAVE A PROBLEM

WITH THAT. I GUESS IT WAS '49,

THE ANTI-MISCEGENATION LAW WAS

OVERTURNED. MY MOTHER CAME OUT

TO CALIFORNIA FROM BLACK

MOUNTAIN, AND THEY GOT MARRIED.

CUNEO: HE KNEW THAT SHE HAD TO

KEEP DOING HER WORK. JOSEF

ALBERS HAD SAID, "NEVER LET HER

STOP WORKING," AND HE DIDN'T.

HE REALLY TOOK IT TO HEART.

LANIER: SHE REALLY WAS AN

ARTIST, LIVED, SLEPT, DREAMT

ART.

LANGE: GYO OBATA GRADUATED FROM

THE ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL AT

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN

ST. LOUIS, AND THEN HE WENT TO

GRADUATE SCHOOL AT CRANBROOK

OUTSIDE DETROIT, AN ART AND

DESIGN SCHOOL RUN BY ELIEL

SAARINEN, THE FINNISH ARCHITECT.

KIKU: SAARINEN SAID, "WHEN YOU

START THINKING ABOUT A

BUILDING, YOU FIRST THINK ABOUT

A CHAIR. YOU KNOW, WHAT'S THE

EXPERIENCE OF THIS PLACE GOING

TO BE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE

GOING TO USE THE BUILDING?"

OBATA: I WAS DRAFTED AFTER

GRADUATE SCHOOL AND WAS SENT UP

TO THE ALEUTIAN ISLANDS.

KIKU: DAD SAID THAT ALL THE

OTHER SOLDIERS THERE HAD

PICTURES OF, LIKE, BETTY GRABLE

ON THEIR WALLS, AND MY DAD HAD

A POSTER OF A FRANK LLOYD

WRIGHT BUILDING. HA! SO HE WAS

ALWAYS CONSIDERED A LITTLE ODD

AT THE CAMP, BUT I THINK HE

COULDN'T WAIT TO GET OUT AND

BACK INTO THE WORLD OF BEING A

PROFESSIONAL ARCHITECT.

OBATA: WELL, I MET MY FIRST

WIFE. SHE WAS A WEAVER STUDYING

AT CRANBROOK WHILE I WAS

STUDYING ARCHITECTURE.

LANGE: WHEN GYO OBATA GOT A JOB

IN CHICAGO, HIS WIFE MAJEL

CHANCE RENTED AN APARTMENT FOR

THEM BECAUSE THERE WAS A CHANCE

THEY WOULD BE DENIED A LEASE

BECAUSE HE WAS JAPANESE

AMERICAN.

KIKU: MY FATHER WAS RECRUITED

BY MINORU YAMASAKI, WHO HAD A

FIRM IN DETROIT AND WAS A

FAIRLY FAMOUS ARCHITECT AT THAT

TIME.

LANGE: YAMASAKI AND OBATA BUILT

THE LAMBERT AIRPORT IN

ST. LOUIS, AND IT WAS REALLY

THE FIRST GLAMOUROUS, MODERN

AIRPORT THAT EVOKED THE

ENGINEERING AND INGENUITY OF

JET TRAVEL WHILE YOU WERE STILL

ON THE GROUND. WHEN IT OPENED,

"ARCHITECTURAL FORUM" CALLED

IT "THE GRAND CENTRAL OF THE

AIR."

OBATA: MINORI YAMASAKI GOT VERY

ILL WITH ULCERS, AND HE WANTED

TO CLOSE ST. LOUIS, AND SO

HELLMUTH AND KASSABAUM AND I

DECIDED TO SPLIT WITH YAMA AND

STARTED HOK.

KIKU: MY DAD WAS ABLE TO FOCUS

COMPLETELY ON DESIGN. HE COULD

DO EXACTLY WHAT HE LOVED TO DO.

OBATA: I WAS TRYING TO SET UP

MY OFFICE, AND I WAS WORKING,

YOU KNOW, 60-70 HOURS A WEEK.

LANGE: MANY OF OBATA'S AND

HOK'S MOST SPECTACULAR

STRUCTURES ARE IN ST. LOUIS.

ONE OF MY FAVORITES IS THE

PRIORY CHAPEL. IT'S MADE OF 20

PARABOLIC CONCRETE ARCHES

ARRANGED LIKE FLOWER PETALS AND

THEN IN 3 TIERS, SO YOU JUST

FEEL LIKE YOU'RE EMBRACED BY

CIRCLES AND LIGHT WITHIN THE

SPACE. THOSE KIND OF DAY-LIT,

SPECTACULAR, PUBLIC SPACES ARE

A THROUGH LINE IN ALL OF

OBATA'S WORK.

OBATA: VERY EARLY IN OUR

CAREER, WE TRIED TO DIVERSIFY

OUR PRACTICE. THAT WAS THE

BASIS OF HOK WAS THAT WE BECAME

A HIGHLY DIVERSIFIED FIRM, AND

WE ALSO BROUGHT IN INTERIOR

DESIGNERS, PLANNERS, LANDSCAPE

ARCHITECTS, GRAPHIC PEOPLE TO

BRING A WHOLE INTEGRATED DESIGN

PRACTICE, AND SO WITH THOSE TWO

ELEMENTS, WE KEPT EXPANDING.

KIKU: HOK REALLY BECAME ONE OF

THE LARGEST GLOBAL

ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS WITH

OFFICES ALL OVER THE WORLD.

MIRA: WE ACTUALLY LEFT CAMP IN

1943, MUCH EARLIER THAN MOST OF

OUR RELATIVES DID, AND CAME TO

BUCKS COUNTY.

NAKASHIMA: FORTUNATELY, THE MAN

I USED TO WORK FOR IN JAPAN

RETURNED TO THIS COUNTRY AND

BOUGHT A FARM JUST

OUTSIDE OF NEW HOPE IN BUCKS

COUNTRY, AND HE AND HIS WIFE

INVITED US TO COME OUT HERE AND

WORK ON THE FARM, SO WE DID,

JUST ANY PLACE TO GET AWAY FROM

THE CAMPS.

MIRA: DAD WAS PUT TO WORK AS A

CHICKEN FARMER. HE WASN'T

ALLOWED TO WORK ON RAYMOND'S

PROJECTS BECAUSE HE WAS DOING

SOME GOVERNMENT WORK, AND THEN

IN 1945, DAD WENT OUT ON HIS

OWN. HE FOUND AN ABANDONED

COTTAGE DOWN THE ROAD HERE AND

SET UP HIS SHOP IN THE GARAGE

AND FOUND THE OWNER OF THE

PROPERTY AND ASKED HIM IF HE

COULD HAVE 3 ACRES OF LAND IN

EXCHANGE FOR LABOR. WE LIVED IN

AN OLD ARMY TENT WHILE DAD

BUILT THE SHOP FIRST, AND

THEN HE BUILT THE HOUSE.

LANGE: THE WAR RELOCATION

AUTHORITY TOOK PHOTOS OF THE

NAKASHIMA FAMILY, AND IN THE

PHOTOS, YOU CAN SEE THEM

ARRANGED AROUND THE STONE

FIREPLACE IN A TRADITIONAL

AMERICAN FARMHOUSE.

MIRA: I DO REMEMBER BEING AT

THE OLD HOUSE WHEN THEY WERE

TAKING THE PICTURES, AND, YOU

KNOW, I WAS JUST 3 YEARS OLD.

YOU KNOW, "SIT ON THE BENCH AND

USE THAT TOOL." I JUST DID WHAT

I WAS TOLD, AND MOM HAD ME ALL

DRESSED UP IN MY BEST DRESS

AND--HEH HEH--PUT RIBBONS IN MY

HAIR AND STUFF. SO, YOU KNOW,

EVERYBODY WAS SMILING AND

HAPPY. THEY WERE TRYING TO

CONVINCE THE PUBLIC THAT THE

INCARCERATION DIDN'T HURT US AT

ALL, THAT WE WERE STILL VERY

HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL AND SO

FORTH. SO THAT'S THE STORY THAT

THOSE PHOTOS TELL. HA HA! WHEN

HE FIRST OPENED HIS WORKSHOP,

I DON'T THINK HE COULD AFFORD TO

BUY REALLY GOOD LUMBER. RATHER

THAN BEMOANING THE FACT THAT

HE COULDN'T AFFORD TO BUY

THE REALLY GOOD LUMBER, HE

IMPROVISED WITH IT. I THINK

IT WAS PROBABLY MOSTLY OUT

OF ECONOMIC NECESSITY THAT

HE STARTED MAKING FURNITURE THAT

HE'S FAMOUS FOR NOW, AND DAD

SAID, IN THE BEGINNING, PEOPLE

DIDN'T QUITE UNDERSTAND WHAT HE

WAS DOING, AND HE SAID AFTER

THEY GOT IT, HE SAID THEY WOULD

PAY EXTRA FOR THE HOLES AND THE

CRACKS AND THE BUTTERFLIES.

HE WOULD NEVER WANT TO MAKE

FURNITURE OUT OF ANYTHING

BUT WOOD, AND HE SAID THAT'S

PROBABLY BECAUSE OF HIS

JAPANESE HERITAGE. EVERY

OBJECT IN NATURE IS SACRED

AND SHOULD BE RESPECTED AS SUCH.

[LEAVES RUSTLING]

NAKASHIMA: I FEEL THAT THERE'S

A SPIRIT IN TREES THAT'S VERY

DEEP, AND I'M SOMEWHAT OF A

DRUID. IN ORDER TO PRODUCE A

FINE PIECE OF FURNITURE, THE

SPIRIT OF THE TREE LIVES ON,

AND I CAN GIVE IT A SECOND LIFE.

MIRA: I THINK WORKING WITH THE

NATURAL EDGES PROBABLY STEMMED

FROM HAVING BEEN IN CAMP AND

HAVING TO WORK WITH WHATEVER

FOUND MATERIALS THERE WERE. HIS

DESIGNS BECAME LESS

RECTILINEAR, I THINK, AFTER THE

CAMP EXPERIENCE AND MORE FREE.

HE WAS FORTUNATE BECAUSE OF THE

POST-WAR CULTURAL FLOW THAT WAS

HAPPENING. THE ZEN ASPECT OF

JAPANESE DESIGN, AN EMPTINESS,

CONCEPTS IN JAPANESE PHILOSOPHY

WERE REALLY IMPORTANT TO THE

DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN DESIGN,

NOT ONLY IN JAPAN BUT IN

THE WESTERN WORLD, AS WELL.

HE ALSO WORKED IN THE EARLY DAYS

WITH KNOLL STUDIOS. THROUGH THAT

KNOLL CONNECTION, HIS NAME

WENT A LOT FURTHER THAN IT

WOULD HAVE GONE OTHERWISE.

KURAMITSU: HE MOST FAMOUSLY WAS

COMMISSIONED BY NELSON

ROCKEFELLER TO MAKE FURNITURE

FOR MANY OF HIS RESIDENCES.

LANGE: NAKASHIMA'S FURNITURE

REALLY SHOWS THE FUSION OF

DIFFERENT CULTURES THAT WAS

HAPPENING IN MODERN DESIGN AT

THE TIME. HE'D LEARNED

TRADITIONAL JAPANESE CARPENTRY

IN CAMP, HE WAS LIVING IN

PENNSYLVANIA SURROUNDED BY ALL

OF THIS CLASSIC AMERICAN

FURNITURE LIKE WINDSOR CHAIRS,

AND THEN HE GOES OUT INTO THE

FOREST AND BRINGS BACK THAT

WILDNESS AND PUTS ALL 3 OF

THESE ELEMENTS TOGETHER.

MIRA: HIS CHAIRS PARTICULARLY

ARE ALMOST EARLY AMERICAN

VERNACULAR, SO THERE ARE

CERTAINLY EARLY AMERICAN

INFLUENCES, AS WELL AS PROBABLY

EUROPEAN INFLUENCES IN HIS WORK.

KURAMITSU: YOU COULD ALMOST

CALL IT A GREAT EXAMPLE OF A

JAPANESE AMERICAN CREATIVE FORM.

LYFORD: THE EXPERIENCE AT

POSTON FOR NOGUCHI WAS INTENSE

AND FOLLOWED HIM FOR THE REST

OF HIS LIFE.

HART: NO QUESTION, HE CAME OUT

OF THE CAMP VERY DEPRESSED.

SADAO: BUT HE WAS ABLE TO GET A

LEAVE OF ABSENCE, OR FURLOUGH,

AND HE NEVER RETURNED, SO HE'S

BEEN AWOL EVER SINCE THEN.

LYFORD: HE WAS UNDER

SURVEILLANCE DURING THIS

PERIOD. NOGUCHI WAS PART OF A

GROUP OF ARTISTS AND WRITERS

WHO HAD OFTEN BEEN UNDER

SURVEILLANCE. HIS MAILMAN WAS,

IN FACT, AN INFORMANT FOR THE

FBI, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT

REALLY AFFECTED HIM GREATLY

DURING THIS PERIOD.

HART: HE WANTED TO SHAPE THE

CURVE OF AN ABSTRACT FORM, BUT

THE WHOLE TIME HE WAS DOING IT,

IT FELT WRONG. THAT DEPRESSION

WOULD BUILD AND THEN MANIFEST

ITSELF REALLY ULTIMATELY IN A

DESIRE TO STOP MAKING DISCRETE

THINGS AND FIND A WAY TO

RECONNECT SCULPTURE WITH

SOCIETY IN A WAY THAT COULD

MAKE HIS LIFE'S WORK WORTHWHILE.

LYFORD: HE WAS WORKING IN HIS

STUDIO IN GREENWICH VILLAGE,

AND HE BEGAN TO MAKE SCULPTURES

THAT SEEMED TO ENGAGE DIRECTLY

WITH THE TEXTURE OF THE DESERT

LANDSCAPE. AT THE SAME TIME, A

WORK SUCH AS "THIS TORTURED

EARTH" WAS A MUCH MORE OVERT AND

EXPLICIT ENGAGEMENT WITH THE

EARTH AS A KIND OF VICTIM, AS A

TRAUMATIZED SPACE.

HART: HE MADE A BEAUTIFUL PIECE

THAT FEELS LIKE IT'S SORT OF

BARELY HELD TOGETHER AND WILL

BLOW AWAY WITH THE SLIGHTEST

BREEZE.

LYFORD: ABSTRACTION FOR NOGUCHI

ENABLED HIM TO SPEAK ABOUT THE

EXPERIENCE AND THE TRAUMA OF

THE WAR IN WAYS THAT COULDN'T

BE PINNED DOWN AND LABELED. HE

BEGAN TO MAKE SCULPTURES THAT

COULD BE TAKEN DOWN AND PUT

BACK UP IN WAYS THAT MIMICKED

THE RELOCATION PROCESS ITSELF.

HART: WE CALL THEM THE

INTERLOCKING SCULPTURES, AND

THEY'RE ONES THAT HE MADE OUT

OF FLAT SHEET MATERIALS, MOSTLY

STONE, BECAUSE THEY CAN BE

COLLAPSED, THEY CAN BE BUNDLED

UP, THEY CAN BE THROWN OVER THE

SHOULDER. YOU KNOW, THAT IDEA

AGAIN THAT INTERNEES WERE ONLY

ALLOWED WHAT THEY COULD CARRY,

AND IN SOME WAYS, THESE ARE THE

PERFECT INTERNMENT SCULPTURES

LYFORD: AND THERE'S A REALLY

INTERESTING EXAMPLE OF THIS

THAT IS THE TABLE DESIGN THAT

HE MADE IN 1944-1945. I THINK

THAT THIS TABLE IS A KIND OF

MASS CULTURAL DESIGN THAT TAKES

THE LANGUAGE OF RELOCATION AND

REFUGEE MOVEMENT AROUND THE

WORLD AND PUTS IT INTO AN

ACTUAL OBJECT OF DESIGN.

THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER, NOGUCHI

HAD TO NEGOTIATE THE FACT THAT

ART CRITICS TENDED TO DESCRIBE

HIS WORK AS BEING SOMEHOW

ESSENTIALLY JAPANESE.

HART: EVEN THOSE WHO ADMIRED

HIM OFTEN TENDED TO ALSO

UNDERCUT HIM. THERE WAS ALWAYS

AN UNDERCURRENT OF RACISM.

"ORIENTAL" ART WAS EFFEMINATE

AND EFFETE, AND THOSE WERE

TERMS THAT WERE USED TO DESCRIBE

NOGUCHI'S WORK, AS WELL.

LYFORD: NOGUCHI WITHDREW

HIMSELF FROM THAT DEALER/CRITIC

SYSTEM.

HART: THAT'S WHERE HE REALLY

DECIDED TO LEAVE NEW YORK,

LEAVE THE UNITED STATES, AND HE

STARTED TRAVELING AROUND THE

WORLD AND WAS MAKING AN EFFORT

TO LOOK AT EXAMPLES WHERE

SCULPTURE WAS AT THE CENTER OF

CIVILIZATION.

SADAO: ISAMU WOULD ALWAYS GO TO

THE SOURCE. I MEAN, BY GOING TO

THOSE PRIMITIVE SOURCES, YOU

GOT CLOSER TO REALITY OR THE

ORIGIN OF MAN'S STRIVING FOR

ART OR EXPRESSION IN ART.

HART: AND HE DEVELOPED AN IDEA.

HE CALLED IT THE TRUE

DEVELOPMENT OF OLD TRADITIONS.

HE VIEWED OLD TECHNOLOGY AS

EVERY BIT AS WORTHWHILE AS NEW

TECHNOLOGY AND WAS CURIOUS

ABOUT HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR

NOW.

LYFORD: THE AKARI SCULPTURES

THAT HE CREATED WERE REALLY

IMPORTANT TO THE IDEA OF THE

DESIGNER AND THE ARCHITECT AS

SOMEONE WHO COULD IMPACT THE

LIVES OF EVERYDAY PEOPLE. THE

OBJECTS WERE AFFORDABLE, THEY

WERE PORTABLE, THEY CAST

BEAUTIFUL LIGHT AND COULD BE

USED AS SCULPTURES, AS WELL AS

FUNCTIONAL OBJECTS. THOSE AKARI

LIGHTS ALSO BECAME ONE OF THE

MOST VISIBLE WAYS THAT HE WAS

UNDERSTOOD WITHIN THE UNITED

STATES AS BEING AN

INNOVATIVE DESIGNER.

LANGE: NEIL FUJITA WENT BACK TO

LOS ANGELES TO REENROLL IN ART

SCHOOL.

KENJI: SO HE WENT BACK TO

CHOUINARD, BUT THIS TIME HE

WENT BACK ON THE G.I. BILL. HE

TALKED ABOUT IT AS A REALLY,

REALLY EXCITING TIME FOR HIM.

PLUS, HE MET HIS WIFE, SO THAT

WAS PRETTY IMPORTANT, TOO. HEH

HEH. ONE OF HIS MENTORS

SUGGESTED THAT HE MEET SOME

PEOPLE OUT EAST TO CONSIDER,

LIKE, JOBS.

LANGE: IN 1953, NEIL FUJITA WON

THE GOLD MEDAL FROM THE NEW

YORK ART DIRECTORS CLUB FOR AN

AD HE DESIGNED FOR THE

CONTAINER CORPORATION OF

AMERICA, WHICH WAS THEN ONE OF

THE COUNTRY'S LEADING PATRONS

OF GRAPHIC DESIGN.

STEVEN HELLER: THEY GAVE AWARDS

TO THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF

TYPOGRAPHY AND IMAGERY, AND

FUJITA FIT INTO THAT CATEGORY.

LANGE: JUST A FEW YEARS AFTER

HE'D BEEN DISCHARGED FROM THE

ARMY, FUJITA HAD ALREADY

REACHED THE TOP ECHELONS OF

GRAPHIC DESIGN IN AMERICA.

KENJI: HE GOT A CALL FROM

WILLIAM GOLDEN AT COLUMBIA

SAYING, "WOULD YOU BE

INTERESTED TO COME TO NEW YORK

TO START A GRAPHIC DESIGN

DEPARTMENT AT COLUMBIA

RECORDS?" BILL GOLDEN OFFERED

HIM THIS JOB, BUT HE SAID,

"LOOK. IF YOU TAKE THIS JOB,

YOU'RE GONNA BE TAKING JOBS

AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE THAT

HAVE WORKED WITH US FOR YEARS.

YOU'RE GOING TO BE CALLED,

LIKE, A JAP, YOU'RE GONNA BE

CALLED A NIP, YOU'RE GONNA BE

CALLED ALL SORTS OF THINGS. IT'S

NOT GONNA BE GOOD," AND, YOU

KNOW, MY FATHER WAS LIKE--HE HAD

BEEN CALLED ALL SORTS OF

STUFF IN L.A. AFTER PEARL

HARBOR, SO, YOU KNOW, HE WAS

TOTALLY ON BOARD WITH IT.

WELL, HE DID COVERS FOR DAVE

BRUBECK. HE DID COVERS FOR

MILES DAVIS, HORACE SILVER,

DUKE ELLINGTON. HE DID COVERS

FOR A PRETTY WIDE RANGE OF JAZZ

ARTISTS.

HELLER: HE REPRESENTS THE

INTRODUCTION OF ABSTRACTION TO

GRAPHIC DESIGN. JAZZ, BEING AN

IMPROVISATIONAL FORM,

ABSTRACTION, BEING

IMPROVISATIONAL FOR THE MOST

PART, WERE IN SYNC.

WOLF: IT'S GOT A KIND OF

RHYTHM, A KIND OF BOUNCE TO IT

THAT'S TYPICAL OF WHAT HE WAS

CAPABLE OF DOING, AND IT'S A

REALLY INTERESTING, LIVELY

DESIGN.

KENJI: I THINK JAZZ WAS

SOMETHING THAT REPRESENTED

FREEDOM FOR HIM.

HELLER: AS AN ART DIRECTOR,

FUJITA WORKED WITH A LOT OF

ARTISTS WHO WERE RENOWN OR ON

THE VERGE OF BECOMING RENOWN.

KENJI: ANDY WARHOL WAS AN

ILLUSTRATOR. BEN SHAHN WAS AN

ILLUSTRATOR. MILTON GLASER WAS

AN ILLUSTRATOR. ROY DeCARAVA

WAS A PHOTOGRAPHER.

BUBBA JACKSON: COLUMBIA RECORDS

DID SOMETHING THAT NOBODY ELSE

WAS DOING. THEY DIDN'T PUT JUST

A PICTURE OF SOMEBODY ON THE

COVER. THEY GAVE YOU A WORK OF

ART.

KENJI: HE MADE A POINT OF

TRYING TO HIRE PEOPLE THAT

REPRESENTED, LIKE, A DIVERSE

GROUP. HE HIRED BLACKS, HE

HIRED WOMEN, AND FOR HIM,

AMERICA WAS REALLY COMPOSED OF

ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT PEOPLE

REPRESENTING DIFFERENT CULTURES

AND RACES AND COMING FROM

DIFFERENT PLACES.

HELLER: WELL, IN ORDER TO

EXPLAIN WHERE FUJITA STOOD IN

THE POP CULTURE FIRMAMENT, YOU

HAD TO UNDERSTAND THAT RECORD

ALBUMS WERE ON THE HIGHEST

LEVEL OF POPULAR CULTURE.

JACKSON: HE MADE WORKS OF ART

THAT SPOKE OF THE SOUND AND

TEXTURE AND LOVE OF THE PEOPLE

WHO WERE MAKING THAT MUSIC. HE

FELT WHAT THEY WERE DOING, AND

HE PUT IT ON A CANVAS.

WOLF: NOT ONLY WAS HE A MAJOR

DESIGNER OF ALBUM COVERS, BUT

HE WAS A MAJOR DESIGNER OF BOOK

COVERS, TOO.

THERE'S A REASON HE WAS SUCH A

SUCCESS BECAUSE HIS WORKS

COMMUNICATED AND PEOPLE

APPRECIATED THEM.

KENJI: WHEN HE DID TRUMAN

CAPOTE'S "IN COLD BLOOD," CAPOTE

SAID THAT "THIS ISN'T RIGHT.

THE BLOOD IS TOO RED. IT'S TOO

FRESH." SO MY FATHER CHANGED

THE COLOR TO KIND OF, LIKE, A

PURPLISH AND PUT, LIKE, THIS

BLACK BORDER AROUND THE COVER

TO INDICATE SOMETHING MORE

FUNEREAL, AND HE SAID, LIKE,

CAPOTE REALLY LOVED THAT. IN

THOSE DAYS, PEOPLE ACTUALLY

USED QUILL PENS AND BRUSHES AND

DYES, AND THEY ACTUALLY--ALL

THAT LETTERING THEY DID BY HAND,

SO WHEN HE DID "THE GODFATHER,"

THAT WAS DONE BY HAND. ONE DAY

WE WERE DRIVING DOWN TIMES

SQUARE, AND THE MOVIE WAS

ABOUT TO COME OUT, AND THEY WERE

PUTTING UP THIS BILLBOARD, AND

MY FATHER THOUGHT TO HIMSELF,

"YOU KNOW, I OWN THIS IMAGE." SO

HE ACTUALLY GOT THEM TO STOP

WORK UNTIL THEY CAME TO,

LIKE, SOME KIND OF FINANCIAL

ARRANGEMENT. HEH HEH.

HELLER: TO HAVE REACHED THAT

POINT WHERE YOU CAN SAY, "I DID

AN ICON," THAT'S AN

ACHIEVEMENT. I THINK HIS WORK,

IN AND OF ITSELF, IS AN

ACHIEVEMENT.

CHASE: SHE DID HAVE SOME GREAT

SUCCESSES IN NEW YORK AS A

VERY, VERY YOUNG ARTIST FRESH

FROM BLACK MOUNTAIN. SHE HAD

SEVERAL GALLERY SHOWS WHERE

SOME VERY FAMOUS COLLECTORS

BOUGHT HER WORK. THE NELSON

ROCKEFELLER FAMILY WERE EARLY

COLLECTORS.

LAIB: SO WHILE SHE WAS

COMMERCIALLY BEING ACCEPTED,

CRITICALLY IT WAS SORT OF A

MESS. YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU READ

SOME OF THE REVIEWS OF HER WORK

FROM 1954, 1956, YOU SEE THAT

SHE'S BEING CALLED A HOUSEWIFE.

THE WORK IS DECORATIVE. THE

WORK WASN'T SEEN FOR WHAT IT

WAS AT THAT TIME.

CHASE: FOR ME, THE BEAUTY AND

THE MAGIC IS THAT SHE DOES TAKE

THIS BASE METAL, A STEEL WIRE

OR A COPPER WIRE, AND SHE

TRANSFORMS IT INTO SOMETHING

THAT IS SHIMMERING MESH. AFTER

ALL, WIRE HAD BEEN AN

INSTRUMENT OF HER CONFINEMENT,

AND SHE TRANSFORMS IT INTO A

THING OF BEAUTY, AND FOR ME,

THAT'S THE MAGIC.

CUNEO: I THINK PEOPLE, ONCE

THEY SEE THE WORK, THEY REALIZE

HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS, BUT THEN

IF THEY GO EVEN DEEPER, THEY

REALIZE WHAT AN AMAZING PERSON

SHE WAS.

PAUL LANIER: SHE WOULD SPEAK UP

WHEN THINGS WEREN'T RIGHT, AND

SHE GOT INVOLVED IN POLITICS

AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, AND

THAT WHOLE BLACK MOUNTAIN

EXPERIENCE AND THE INTERNMENT

REALLY SHAPED HOW SHE FELT

ABOUT ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS AND

THAT ART COULD BE A GREAT

EDUCATIONAL TOOL.

CHASE: SHE GOT FOUNDATION

GRANTS AND FEDERAL GRANTS AND

FINALLY BECAME A LINE ITEM ON

THE SAN FRANCISCO UNIFIED

SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET,

AND THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN WERE

BENEFITED BY THESE PROGRAMS.

LANGE: SOMETIMES, THE MOST

INTERESTING ARTISTS AREN'T THE

HEROIC MALE ABSTRACT

EXPRESSIONIST PAINTERS BUT

SOMEONE LIKE RUTH ASAWA, WHO

DOES HER WORK AT HOME,

SURROUNDED BY HER CHILDREN,

WITH THE SIMPLEST MATERIALS AND

STILL WAS ABLE TO MAKE

SOMETHING AMAZING. I THINK NOW

WE SEE HER ABILITY TO WEAVE HER

LIFE AND HER ARTWORK TOGETHER

AS ONE OF HER GREAT STRENGTHS.

KIKU: I THINK IT WAS AN

ADVANTAGE TO BE JAPANESE

AMERICAN IN HIS PROFESSION

BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, HE HAD A

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. YOU

KNOW, HE HAD THIS LOVE OF

JAPANESE DESIGN AND ART AND THE

FOCUS ON NATURE, AND I THINK,

YOU KNOW, THE WAY HE TALKED

ABOUT ARCHITECTURE WAS

DIFFERENT THAN HOW OTHER PEOPLE

TALK, AND I THINK IT WAS

DIRECTLY BECAUSE OF HIS

HERITAGE AND HOW HE GREW UP IN

THIS FAMILY OF ARTISTS.

MIRA: HE'S ONE OF THE FEW NISEI

WHO DID NOT DENY HIS JAPANESE

HERITAGE. HE LOVED JAPAN. HE

NEVER DENIED IT.

WHEN HE PASSED AWAY, I THOUGHT,

"WHAT AM I GONNA DO WITH ALL

THESE ORDERS? WHAT AM I GONNA

DO WITH THESE MEN IN THE SHOP?

YOU KNOW, THEY NEED JOBS. WHAT

AM I GONNA DO WITH THAT HUGE

WOOD PILE?"

I'VE BEEN WORKING WITH HIM

PROFESSIONALLY SINCE 1970. I

HAD TRAINED WITH HIM. IT DAWNED

ON ME DURING THE PROCESS THAT

THIS IS MY FATHER'S LEGACY, SO

WE GOT TO KEEP GOING.

HART: NOGUCHI WAS

EXTRAORDINARILY FORTUNATE TO

EXECUTE SOME REALLY IMPORTANT

PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD.

LYFORD: PERHAPS THE DESIGNS HE

MADE FOR POSTON FOR THIS

TRANSFORMATION OF THE LANDSCAPE

FINALLY MAY HAVE COME TO

FRUITION IN A MUCH LATER

PROJECT THAT HE DID CALLED

"CALIFORNIA SCENARIO," THAT THE

MEANDERING STREAM THROUGH A

KIND OF DESERT-LIKE ENVIRONMENT

TO MY MIND, ECHOES

THE EARLY PLANS AT POSTON.

SADAO: FOR HIM THERE WERE NO

BOUNDARIES. THE APPLIED ARTS

AND THE FINE ARTS, HE WAS JUST

AN ARTIST AND CREATING AND

WORKING WITH SPACE.

HART: HE TOOK EVERYTHING THAT

SHOULD'VE BEEN A HANDICAP AND

MADE IT INTO THE CORE OF WHAT

MADE HIM THE POWERFUL,

SUCCESSFUL PERSON THAT HE WAS.

HE'S SUCH A ROLE MODEL FOR A

MORE ENGAGED, MULTICULTURAL,

MULTIRACIAL, COMPLICATED WORLD.

KENJI: I FEEL LIKE HIS

ALLIANCES WERE FOR PEOPLE WHO

HAD SUFFERED UNDER OPPRESSIVE

REGIMES.

TOM WOLF: "WHEN EMMETT TILL

DIED" IN REFERENCE TO THE

BRUTAL MURDER OF A YOUNG BLACK

BOY IN THE SOUTH, WHERE HE WAS

PHYSICALLY BRUTALIZED BY

TWO MEN, AND FAMOUSLY HIS

MOTHER LEFT THE COFFIN OPEN AT

HIS FUNERAL SO PEOPLE COULD SEE

HOW SAVAGELY HE WAS BEATEN. IT

WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT

INAUGURATED THE CIVIL RIGHTS

MOVEMENT IN THE 1960s.

KENJI: THE EMMETT TILL PAINTING

THAT MY FATHER MADE WAS, IN A

WAY, A KIND OF VERY HUMANIST

PAINTING THAT WAS A KIND OF

PROTEST AGAINST WHAT HAD

HAPPENED BUT ALSO SPOKE TO A

KIND OF HOPE THAT MIGHT EMERGE

OUT OF THE PROTEST.

MAKI: THE 1960s IS A TIME OF

GREAT CHANGE IN OUR NATION. I

MEAN, WE HAVE THE CIVIL RIGHTS

MOVEMENT IN FULL BLOOM, WE HAVE

THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT, WE HAVE

THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT, AND WE

HAVE THE ETHNIC STUDIES

MOVEMENT ALL GOING ON AT THE

SAME TIME.

ISHIZUKA: SANSEI, WHICH IS MY

GENERATION, THE

THIRD-GENERATION AMERICANS OF

JAPANESE DESCENT, EVEN THOUGH

WE WERE BORN AND RAISED AS

AMERICANS, WE WEREN'T SEEN OR

TREATED AS SUCH.

MIRA: MY PARENTS NEVER SPOKE

ABOUT THE CAMP EXPERIENCE,

WHICH I THINK IS TYPICAL OF THE

NISEI AND THE ISSEI WHO WERE

PUT INTO CAMPS. I MEAN, THERE

WAS A VERY STRONG SENSE OF

SHAME IN JAPANESE SOCIOLOGY.

KENJI: WHEN I WAS IN HIGH

SCHOOL, I DID A PAPER ON THE

INTERNMENT CAMP, AND IN THE

COURSE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH MY

PARENTS, THEY SAID THAT THIS

WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT THEY

HAD EVER TALKED ABOUT THE CAMP

EXPERIENCE TO ANYBODY.

KIKU: SOMETIMES, SOMEBODY WOULD

TALK ABOUT CAMP, AND I WOULD

THINK IT WAS, LIKE, SUMMER

CAMP, AND IT WASN'T UNTIL I WAS

PROBABLY, YOU KNOW, 12 OR 13

DID I REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT

HAD HAPPENED.

LANIER: THE THING THAT KEPT

COMING UP WAS THAT EXPRESSION,

"SHIKATA GA NAI," "IT CAN'T BE

HELPED." IT COULDN'T BE HELPED.

WE DID THE BEST WE COULD.

LANGE: NOT TALKING ABOUT THE

INTERNMENT WAS INTERNALIZED IN

JAPANESE AMERICAN FAMILIES BUT

ALSO IN MAINSTREAM AMERICAN

CULTURE. I DON'T THINK THAT THE

GOVERNMENT, MUCH LESS

CITIZENS, WANTED TO LOOK AT

ITSELF AND THINK ABOUT WHAT IT

HAD DONE.

WOMAN: I HAVE NEVER BEEN

ABLE TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

ISHIZUKA: THEY HELD THESE

THINGS IN FOR SO LONG THAT WHEN

THE OPPORTUNITY CAME TO TALK

ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES, THEY

REALLY CAME FORTH.

WOMAN: AND BECAUSE OF THIS

EVACUATION, I REALLY DENIED MY

CHILDREN THEIR JAPANESE

HERITAGE. I WANTED TO ERASE

THAT PART. I WANTED TO BE 100%

AMERICAN AND BE ACCEPTED.

MAKI: AND AS POWERFUL AS THAT

TESTIMONY WAS, I WOULD SUBMIT

TO YOU THAT THE MORE POWERFUL

TESTIMONY ACTUALLY OCCURRED IN

PEOPLE'S HOMES, AROUND THEIR

COFFEE TABLES AND AROUND THEIR

DINING ROOM TABLES AS A SANSEI

WOULD SAY TO THEIR NISEI

PARENTS AND ISSEI GRANDPARENTS,

"TELL US WHAT HAPPENED. TELL US

WHAT REALLY WENT DOWN DURING

THAT TIME."

ON AUGUST 10, 1988, PRESIDENT

REAGAN SIGNED THE CIVIL

LIBERTIES ACT OF 1988, GRANTING

AN APOLOGY, $20,000 OF

INDIVIDUAL MONETARY

REPARATIONS, AND CREATING A

TRUST FUND OF $50 MILLION FOR

THE JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY

TO SHARE THE STORY.

LANGE: AS PART OF THE REDRESS

MOVEMENT, A NUMBER OF THE CAMP

SITES BECAME NATIONAL AND STATE

HISTORIC LANDMARKS, AND THE

ARTISTS WERE ASKED TO MAKE

WORKS EXPLICITLY ABOUT THE

JAPANESE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

LYFORD: NOGUCHI'S SCULPTURE

CALLED "TO THE ISSEI" IN L.A.'s

LITTLE TOKYO WAS LIGHTLY CARVED

FROM TWO MASSIVE BOULDERS THAT

WERE IMPORTED FROM JAPAN.

UNLIKE HIS INTERLOCKING

SCULPTURES THAT WERE MEANT TO

BE PORTABLE, WHEN NOGUCHI WAS

ASKED ABOUT THE FORM OF THIS

WORK, HE DESCRIBED IT AS BEING

AN "ANTIDOTE TO IMPERMANENCE."

LANGE: IN 1999, OBATA WAS ASKED

TO DESIGN A PERMANENT HOME FOR

THE JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL

MUSEUM ON A HISTORIC SITE IN

LITTLE TOKYO IN LOS ANGELES.

NEXT DOOR TO THE SITE WAS A

BUDDHIST TEMPLE THAT HAD BEEN

USED TO PROCESS INTERNEES IN

1942.

KIKU: I THINK THAT WHAT WAS SO

IMPORTANT ABOUT BEING ABLE TO

DESIGN THIS BUILDING, TO BE

ABLE TO TELL THOSE STORIES SO

THAT ALL AMERICANS REMEMBER

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE JAPANESE

AMERICANS AND HOW THAT SHOULD

NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

OBATA: UNFORTUNATELY, THIS

WHOLE QUESTION OF PREJUDICE IN

OUR SOCIETY AGAINST MINORITIES

CONTINUES TO ERUPT. PREJUDICE

IS JUST A STUPID THING, AND IT

HAS TO BE WIPED OUT IF THE

WORLD IS GOING TO BECOME ONE.

PAUL: ON ONE SIDE OF THE

MEMORIAL, IT'S BEFORE THE WAR.

MOSTLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ABOUT

HER CHILDHOOD, AND THEN THE

OTHER SIDE IS THE CAMPS AND

LIFE DURING THE WAR.

LANIER: SHE READ A LOT ABOUT

THE INTERNMENT IN A WAY THAT

SHE HADN'T READ BEFORE. I THINK

SHE WANTED TO TRY AND DO A

BROADER STORY THAN DEFINITELY

HER OWN.

ASAWA: I DON'T WANT IT TO BE

SEEN AS A MEMORIAL TO THE

JAPANESE. IT CAN HAPPEN TO

ANYBODY IF YOU DON'T PAY

ATTENTION. THIS CAN HAPPEN TO

YOU, TOO.

LANGE: IN TRUTH, ALL OF THESE

ARTISTS HAD BEEN LIVING AND

WORKING WITH THEIR CAMP

EXPERIENCE SINCE THE 1940s.

WHERE THEY LIVED, THE MATERIALS

THEY USED, THE FORMS THAT THEY

MADE, ALL OF THOSE DECISIONS

CAME AS A RESULT OF WHAT HAD

HAPPENED TO THEM DURING THE

WAR, AND THOSE DECISIONS

ACTUALLY CHANGED THE FACE OF

AMERICAN CULTURE EVEN THOUGH

THESE ARTISTS WERE NOT

CONSIDERED AMERICANS JUST A

DECADE BEFORE.

KENJI: THE CAMP EXPERIENCE

COULD HAVE CRUSHED HIM, BUT IT

DIDN'T. I THINK IT WAS--IT

WAS--IT WAS TRAUMATIC. THE

QUESTION IS WHAT DO YOU DO WITH

IT?

ASAWA: IT TAUGHT ME NOT TO BE

AFRAID OF THE UNKNOWN. THE

UNKNOWN IS REALLY THE THING

THAT FREES YOU INTO THE

UNIVERSE, I THINK.

ANNOUNCER: THIS PROGRAM WAS

MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY A

GRANT FROM ANNE RAY FOUNDATION,

A MARGARET A. CARGILL

PHILANTHROPY; THE

LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF

SUPERVISORS THROUGH THE

LOS ANGELES COUNTY ARTS

COMMISSION; THE LOS ANGELES

DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS;

THE CALIFORNIA HUMANITIES; AND

THE CALIFORNIA ARTS COUNCIL.

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