La Porte Friends of Noguchi members and La Porte County Public Library staff gather in front of the Noguchi mural, created by David Blodgett and donated to the library in 2019. It will remain on permanent display. Photo provided by La Porte County Public Library
La Porte Friends of Noguchi members and La Porte County Public Library staff gather in front of the Noguchi mural, created by David Blodgett and donated to the library in 2019. It will remain on permanent display. Photo provided by La Porte County Public Library
La PORTE — According to the La Porte County Public Library, Isamu Noguchi is one of La Porte’s greatest success stories, and at the same time, one of its least talked about.

So on Nov 17, the Main Library hosted an event in honor of what would’ve been his 117th birthday.

The library is actually celebrating Noguchi November with a series of themed storytimes, classes and events dedicated to his life and work.

Noguchi, aka Sam Gilmour, came to the area at the age of 13 in the early 1910s. Through the hospitality of three La Porte families, and the natural talents he possessed, he would go on to become one of the most influential sculptors and designers of the 20th century.

The Library, in partnership with the La Porte Friends of Noguchi, celebrated the birthday of the sculptor with a ribbon-cutting for a mural dedicated to his life and work.

The event officially dedicated the mural, recognized Noguchi’s ties to La Porte County, highlighted high school art competition winners, featured speakers knowledgeable about Noguchi’s life and work, and invited community members to tour the New Church Swedenborgian.

The Noguchi mural was commissioned by La Porte Friends of Noguchi, created by David Blodgett, and donated to the Library in 2019. It is located at the Main Library and highlights significant events from Noguchi’s life.

Following the dedication, winners of the Noguchi November High School Art Competition were announced.

Third prize was awarded to Katherine Bellah, second prize to Elizabeth R. Santos, and first prize to Emma Mitschelen. They received cash prizes sponsored by Friends of Noguchi and Vibrant Communities of La Porte County.

Honorable mentions were given to 12 students who live in or attend school in La Porte County.

Numerous local art teachers expressed their appreciation for the contest and how it allowed them to highlight an artist who spent his formative years in the county.

One student in attendance said, “I had no idea Noguchi was an international star!”

Speakers at the event included art historian Dr. Deborah A. Goldberg, who wrote “Isamu Noguchi: The Artist as Engineer and Visionary Designer, 1918-1939,” and Amy Auscherman, director of Archives and Brand Heritage for Herman Miller.

The Library is celebrating Noguchi November through the end of the month, and the community is invited to visit the library, borrow Noguchi-related materials, and view the student art submissions at the Main Library.
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