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Masumi Hayashi; photographer documented internment camps

LOS ANGELES -- Masumi Hayashi, a photographer who used panoramic photo collages to make beautiful and powerful statements on toxic waste sites, abandoned prisons and remnants of the internment camps that held Japanese-Americans during World War II, has died. She was 60.

A longtime professor of photography at Cleveland State University, Ms. Hayashi was found shot to death Thursday night near her third-floor apartment in Cleveland, according to her son, Dean Keesey of Oakland, Calif.

Another person, John Jackson, 51, an artist and sculptor who worked as a maintenance man in the apartment complex on the city's west side, was found shot to death near the ground floor of the building.

Efforts Saturday to reach Cleveland police investigators handling the case were unsuccessful. According to Saturday's Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, police arrested Ms. Hayashi's neighbor, Jacob Cifelli, 29, in connection with the killings and recovered a handgun at the scene.

News accounts said that Ms. Hayashi had complained for several months about loud music coming from Cifelli's apartment. When she responded recently with a call to Cifelli's mother at her place of work, her protests were answered with gunfire Thursday night, allegedly from Cifelli, The Plain Dealer reported.

It was not immediately clear whether Jackson had a role in the complaints about the music.

The bodies of Ms. Hayashi and Jackson were found by Cifelli's mother, The Plain Dealer reported.

Cifelli was being questioned Saturday and had not been charged with the slayings. Hours before the incident, Cleveland police issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to pay a fine on a weapons conviction.

Friends remembered Ms. Hayashi fondly Saturday.

``She's the least confrontational person I ever met," said a friend Stephen White, a Los Angeles-based photography collector and dealer. ``She was a gentle, easygoing person. She never quite got the due she deserved. I always felt she would be more successful as an artist if she was more aggressive."

Ms. Hayashi lived in Southern California until she married. She joined her husband, who was then in the Navy, in Florida and received both a bachelor's and master's degree in fine arts at Florida State University.

She joined the Cleveland State faculty in 1982.

She was involved in a range of artistic endeavors including printmaking, silk-screening and photo-transfer quilting before turning to photography, her son said.

She developed a systematic photographic style where she took multiple exposures and assembled them into panoramic scenes. The finished pieces were large, sometimes 6 feet or more in width.

She created a number of series that generally reflected the decay and loss of parts of the American Dream. In one series, she photographed a number of Superfund sites designated by the Environmental Protection Agency. In another she photographed abandoned penitentiaries.

Her most familiar work to Southern California audiences was called ``American Concentration Camps," which brought into focus the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Her photographs of the remnants of each of the 10 sites where Americans were interned during World War II had special meaning for Ms. Hayashi because she was born in one, Gila Bend in Arizona. She also traveled to Canada and researched and photographed Japanese-Canadian internment camps there.

Her photography is in the collections of leading museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., and numerous private collections.

Ms. Hayashi's marriage ended in divorce.

In addition to her son, she leaves a daughter, Lisa Takata, a brother, Seigo, and four sisters, Connie, Amy, Nancy, and Joanne.

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