The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan by Christy Hale
Born in Los Angeles to a Scotch-Irish American mother, Leonie Gilmour, and a missing Japanese father, the young boy who would grow up to be Isamu Noguchi moved as toddler to Japan to join his estranged father. When Gilmour realized that the older Noguchi already had another family, she cut ties with her ex-lover, although mother and son remained in Japan. The young Isamu – whose name means ‘courageous’ – suffered through the taunts and discomforts of being hapa in a homogeneous country, and found great solace in the natural world … which would serve him well throughout his long career as an artist of many mediums.
On the coast of Chigasaki (known as the birthplace of Japanese surfing!) in Kanagawa Prefecture, mother and son finally created a true home together which the 8-year-old Noguchi helped design and build. Like Noguchi, his childhood home is a synergistic blend of east and west … and stands today as testament to a gifted young artist’s talent and tenacity.
Christy Hale tells Noguichi’s early-artist-as-a-young-boy-story with great tenderness, paying careful attention to the special bond he shared with his mother. Hale’s depictions of Leonie’s nurturing looks, her protective arms, her quiet presence are testament to a mother’s unconditional love.
Tidbit: Christy Hale’s got a new YouTube video about her title, including an inside look at her artistic process. Who knew business envelope liners could make such great kimono patterns! Click here to view it. WOW!