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A Stormy Day

Hibi, Hisako [ bio ]

A Stormy Day
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painting
H: 22 in, W: 26 in
oil
canvas

Topaz, Utah, June 1943

(96.601.16)

Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee

Description

Unframed, stretched canvas.

Image of three figures standing in space between barracks around a pile of dark objects next to a basketball backboard under a darkening sky at Topaz concentration camp, Topaz, Utah. Female figure in skirt stands in foreground with back to viewer; figure in hat stands midground left; third figure stands at midground right.

Inscription
Signed in caps, LR: Hisako Hibi / June 1943. Written on back: Topaz, Utah Relocation Camp WRA Camp Hisako Hibi 'Stormy Day'

History
This painting entitled "Stormy Day" appears to be a portrait of camp either during a break in a storm or just prior to its beginning. In the foreground is a pile of what appears to be coal. Three solitary figures are also present in this space enclosed by barracks. Hibi portrays the sky dramatically with white and black clouds, with a hint of orange on the horizon. In this painting Hibi was most likely referring to the numerous dust storms that plagued the internees of Topaz. The dusty, dry soil of the area was often swept up into blinding dust storms that seeped into the barracks and engulfed anyone unlucky enough to be caught outside. Hibi remarked in her writing that "Once in awhile the ominously shaped clouds started to move rapidly toward the north, while the western sky became dark...The residents had learned from bitter experiences what it all meant. They ran into their barracks, sealed all the openings and cracks between the front door and windows with old cloths and papers. Cyclones of sand in a dust storm with twigs and sage brush roots violently swept over the vast desert floor as if the earth and sky became one fierce dust ball in madness."

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 (collections@janm.org).

 

 

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