Mother in Jerome Camp
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Gift of Madeleine Sugimoto and Naomi Tagawa, Japanese American National Museum
Stretched and framed.
Portrait of Sugimoto's mother wearing a collared shirt under a blue button-down v-neck sweater seated on a dark red seat next to a midnight blue pillow with red trim that reads, " 7th DIVISION." She gazes off to the right of the viewer. A framed picture of a soldier stands on a shelf in the background to the right. In background left is an image of an American flag over a star and a large "V".
Signed in medium, bottom left corner: H. Sugimoto
Sugimoto also painted a portrait of his mother during her incarceration, Mother in Jerome Camp (p. 81). In the painting she appears to be weary and aged, though she was only in her sixties at the time. The fact that she is in camp certainly accounts for the somber mood of the image. The background details of the work explain the circumstances of the painting. To the left is a U.S. flag with a star and a V-for-victory symbol, while on the shelf to the right is a photograph of a soldier. Below that is a cloth with other military symbols and division markings. All of these items relate directly to Sugimoto's younger brother, Ralph, who volunteered for the U.S. Army in late 1943. He became a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-nisei unit that fought valiantly in the war. Ralph's enlistment naturally had a tremendous impact on the entire family, in particular Sugimoto's mother. Painted in 1943, Mother in Jerome Camp is a prime example of Sugimoto's increased range and complexity, in terms of both subject matter and style, during this period. (Kim. Henry Sugimoto: painting an American experience, p. 59)
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