Japanese-born American painter Yasuo Kuniyoshi was also a photographer and printmaker. He immigrated to the US in 1906, after serving his compulsory military service, and started to study painting at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. In 1910 Kuniyoshi moved to the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York. His early drawings and paintings often used plants and animals as subjects.
In 1935 Kuniyoshi became one of the founding members of the American Artists Congress, and served as the first president of the Artists Equity from 1947-51. With the beginning of World War II, Kuniyoshi developed a deep social and political consciousness. He was branded an "enemy alien" by the US government in the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and created his own pictorial symbols, rooted in Japanese pictorial tradition, to express his beliefs.