Telling the Story of a Nation

Maternity through Sculpture

refer to caption
The stamp featuring Isamu Noguchi's "Mother and Child" was issued May 18, 2004.

Themes of maternity have also been explored in sculpture. A beautiful example executed by the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi is “Mother and Child.” The work is made of onyx, a form of quartz, and is located in The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in New York. It is 60 inches tall, and only the top part of the work was used on the stamp. The Postal Service featured this work along with other Noguchi pieces in a set of five stamps issued in May 2004. These stamps are part of a series honoring a variety of American artists. However, the Noguchi stamps stand out as the only ones issued using no color other than black and white.

Derry Noyes, an art director at the Postal Service, designed the stamps. She is an admirer of Noguchi and had met with him twenty years prior to the release of the stamps honoring his work. Noyes discussed her struggles of trying to adapt Noguchi’s work. “I did a tremendous amount of research…The breadth of work is mammoth, and the scale of it ranges from stage sets to portrait busts…I wanted…to get across what set him apart that he tried to put beauty of his sculpture into everyday things.” Noyes was also concerned that the images would look abstract and unrecognizable when they were placed into a stamp size space. “It was hard to hold onto the detail on the photograph and not lose a lot of it into shadow,” stated Noyes. Despite the challenges, the five stamps nicely represented a wide variety of Noguchi’s work.