Online Discussion of ‘Masters of Modern Design’

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The second film in the Japanese American National Museum’s Digital Film Festival series is “Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience” on Friday, May 29, at 6 p.m. PDT.

This documentary, a co-production between JANM’s Watase Media Arts Center and KCET for the series “Artbound,” explores how the World War II American concentration camp experience impacted the lives of five Japanese American artists and designers and ultimately sent them on trajectories that led to their changing the face of American culture with their immense talents.

From the hand-drawn typeface on the cover of “The Godfather” to Herman Miller’s biomorphic coffee table, the work of Japanese American designers including Ruth Asawa, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, S. Neil Fujita, and Gyo Obata permeated postwar culture. While these second-generation Japanese American artists have been celebrated, less-discussed is how their WWII incarceration — a period of great hardship and discrimination — had a powerful effect on their lives and art.

Join a Q&A with the children of the featured artists. Kiku Obata (designer and daughter of Gyo Obata), Mira Nakashima (furniture designer and daughter of George Nakashima), Kenji Fujita (artist and son of S. Neil Fujita), and Addie Lanier (educator and daughter of Ruth Asawa) will talk about their parents’ lives and legacies.

The Q&A will be streamed live on JANM’s YouTube channel. Submit questions in advance using this form:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfE0IyGBs4EnfzwFeXkkJQi5R6CtKybFR6d0gsUWlCBmWfSmQ/viewform

Participants will be able to chat and ask additional questions live (you will need to be logged in to YouTube to participate in the chat).

Ways to watch the film:

• Airing on KCET, Southern California’s PBS station, Sunday, June 7, at 12 a.m. (PDT) on KCETLink and Thursday, June 11, at 1 p.m. (PDT) on KCET-HD.

• On the KCET website through May 30: https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/episodes/masters-of-modern-design-the-art-of-the-japanese-american-experience

• On KCET’s YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpfhVmDNuho

4) Purchase the DVD at the JANM Store: https://janmstore.com/products/masters-of-modern-design-dvd. JANM members get a 10% discount.

JANM will be releasing a selection of films, some for a limited time only. Organize a (virtual) screening party with your friends or family or just get cozy and enjoy the JANM Digital Film Festival from the safety of your own home. There will be Q&A sessions with the filmmakers and others involved in the projects.

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