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Tanforan Assembly Center

Hibi, Hisako [ bio ]

Tanforan Assembly Center
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H: 16 in, W: 20 in

San Bruno, Calif., August 24, 1942


Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee


Unframed, stretched canvas.

Image of crowded rows of dark barracks in and around dirt racetrack at Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, California. A blue bird flies overhead, top right. Green mountain in background.

Signed in caps, bottom right: Hisako Hibi / Aug 1942. Written on back: Tanforan Race Track Tanforan Assembly Center San Bruno, Ca we stayed May 8-Sept 23, 1942.

This painting is one of only eight known works done by Hisako Hibi at the Tanforan Assembly Center located in San Bruno, California. It is an important visual expression of Hibi's initial impressions of Tanforan and the circumstances of the incarceration. The perspective of the painting offers a panoramic, bird's-eye view of the camp and hence, Hibi's imagined vision of the camp grounds from such a distance. The barracks, which formerly housed race horses, are depicted as rows of buildings closely huddled into the narrow race track enclosure. The shallow space of the painting and the use of a high horizon contribute to the cramped feeling of the work. The bird flying in the top right corner is the only sign of movement and life in the otherwise quiet and somber canvas.

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Collections Management & Access Unit at the Japanese American National Museum (



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