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When can we go home?

Sugimoto, Henry [ bio ]

When can we go home?
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H: 32.5 in, W: 23.25 in, Frame: 33.5 x 24.25 in

Denson, Ark., 1943


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


Framed and stretched. Wood frame is painted gold, wood showing through in streaks.

A girl in red and white dress and white boots stands with her back to the viewer extending her arms out and pointing northwest with her left index finger. A woman in a yellow dress with white collar and white shoes, bends her head, extending her arms to embrace the girl. In the foreground, a rattlesnake, left, and an axe resting against a log with a squirrel sitting on top, right. Above the snake is an image of the Golden Gate Bridge and above it at the top left is the Los Angeles City Hall. To the right is an image of trees, watch tower, and a mess hall with sign inscribed Mess 2. Below it is one large sunflower. A transparent lightning bolt segments the image from bottom left corner to center right edge up toward the upper left corner.

Signed in medium, bottom left corner: H. Sugimoto, Ark. Written on back, top center: 32 1/2" x 23" / "Daughter asking her mother" / When can we go home

This painting represents a surprising departure from Sugimoto's usual style and suggests the influence of cubism as well as Mexican murals. The painting is fractured by a dramatic lightning bolt. To the left are architectural symbols of California, representing Sugimoto's life before World War II. To the right are a guard tower and a camp mess hall. Below are a log, axe, snake, and sunflower, all of which were likely to be found in camp. At the center of the painting stand a woman and child, inspired by Sugimoto's wife and daughter, Madeleine. The title is a question posed by Madeleine to her parents when they were first confined to Fresno Assembly Center. Later, Sugimoto retitled this composition Longing, after a work that the poet John Gould Fletcher wrote in response to it.

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Collections Management & Access Unit at the Japanese American National Museum (



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