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Untitled (Stop Picture Bride)

Sugimoto, Henry [ bio ]

Untitled (Stop Picture Bride)
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H: 51 in, W: 38 in

New York, N.Y., ca. 1965


Gift of Madeleine Sugimoto and Naomi Tagawa, Japanese American National Museum


Stretched and framed. Formerly stapled to paintings 92.97.120-.124.

Man in foreground in blue overalls sits at a table with his back to the viewer looking at photograph of woman in a kimono. A kitten leans on his bench next to a stove with a blue kettle in lower right. A dog, chickens, a white horse harnessed to a handplow and an orchard stand in bottom left corner with words, "Stop Picture Bride," above in red at midground. An Uncle Sam figure in black suit, white beard and top hat with white stars on blue glares at the viewer from right midground, pointing at words with left hand and holding up right hand, palm outward to the left where a ship sails in the blue ocean toward the Statue of Liberty in upper right. In upper right, Japanese woman in a striped yellow kimono and blue obi carries a bundle and a suitcase with Japanese characters, "Beikoku yuki" (Going to America), on side. In the background, a thatched-roof house and paddy fields stands before blue mountains beside a red torii with two white stone lanterns. A translucent white image of Japan overlays the womans feet and separates the images of Japan from the ocean.

Signed in medium, upper right corner: H. Sugimoto

Since most issei were single men when they immigrated, it was not uncommon for them to find wives through correspondence and the exchange of photographs. Many issei women thus came to the United States as "picture brides." In 1924 the United States passed a law barring further immigration of Japanese women. Since an earlier law had already halted the mass immigration of Japanese men, it was evident that the purpose of the 1924 act was to discourage the establishment of families and communities of Japanese Americans. Sugimoto's paintings use iconic figures like Uncle Sam to refer to these historical and political events.

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