Bend: A Solo Performance

Bend. Kimi Maeda’s solo performance, tells the true story of two men interned in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II: Maeda’s father, an Asian Art historian currently suffering from dementia, and the subject of his research, Isamu Noguchi, a half-Japanese-half-American sculptor. Weaving together live feed projections of sand drawings with archival footage from the 1940s, Maeda’s performance poses important questions about how the Japanese American internment camps will be remembered. A talk back with Richard Yada, who was born at Rohwer, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock public historian Dr. Johanna Lewis will follow the performance.

Many years ago Robert Maeda began writing a book about the modernist sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Though perhaps not the best known artist of his time, Noguchi’s work appears in a wide range of spaces and contexts both public and private: Piedmont Park’s playground in Atlanta, the relief mural of the Associated Press Building at Rockefeller Center, the giant Red Cube in New York’s Financial District, set pieces for Martha Graham, and countless lamps, tables, and stone sculptures. Having already made a name for himself as an artist, however, Noguchi voluntarily entered a Japanese American internment camp during World War II.

It was in that camp that Robert Maeda, a nine-year-old boy at the time, observed Noguchi working on his sculptures. Years later Maeda became an Asian art historian and cited that time in camp as a defining moment in his life. Although he published several articles and gave numerous lectures on Noguchi’s work and family life, his book about Noguchi was never completed. As dementia gradually overtook Maeda’s life, his daughter, Kimi, was inspired to take on the task he started decades ago, exploring the life of Noguchi in relation to his (and her) own personal history. Using sand as her canvas, Kimi transforms image after image, combining live feed projection of these drawings with archival footage.

The performance of Bend at McGehee High School is free and open to the public.

The project is supported by the The Jim Henson Foundation, Tapp’s Arts Center, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC, Alternate ROOTS, the Arkansas Arts Council, the New England Japanese American Citizens League (NEJACL), the Arkansas Archeological Survey, Arkansas Humanities Council, and the Ko Festival of Performance.