Isao Kikuchi (9 December 1921 – 31 August 2017) was an American graphic designer, painter, carver and illustrator.
Isao Kikuchi was born in East Los Angeles upon 9 December 1921, the second child of Yoriyuki Kikuchi – one of the first Asian Americans to graduate from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry - and Miya Sonomiya Kikuchi. In 1942, at the onset of World War II, Isao was lured to the high desert of California by an provide of construction decree at devotion wages. He found himself interned at the Manzanar relocation camp which would become house to his relations and 10,000 new Japanese Americans evacuated from the West Coast under authority of Presidential Executive Order 9066. Isao recounted his mature at Manzanar in an interview conducted by Richard Potashin as share of the Densho Digital Archive - Manzanar National Historical Site Collection. The interview is available on the Densho site below a Creative Commons license. A video recording of the interview (Kirk Peterson, videographer) is as well as available.
After 12 months, Isao was allowed to leave Manzanar for Chicago where he was drafted into the army. As a member of the now famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Isao served once distinction and saying fierce fighting neighboring German forces in the Italian Alps and in France. At the conclusion of the war, Isao returned to Chicago and next to Los Angeles in 1950 like his new bride, Alice Ishii.
After a thriving career as a Graphic Designer, Isao called upon his wartime experiences to fabricate a number of hauntingly beautiful paintings and sculptures and, in some cases, photographs combining the two. Isao afterward illustrated children's book upon the subject of the Relocation experience, including Blue Jay in the Desert, Welcome Home Swallows, and The Spirit of Manzanar (written by his daughter, Junie). In the later books, the now elderly Kikuchi demonstrated his mastery of computer illustration. The Spirit of Manzanar is included in this website. He died in August 2017 at the age of 95.
Many of his carvings are now held in private collections in Southern California.