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In front of the auditorium

Hibi, Hisako [ bio ]

In front of the auditorium
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H: 20 in, W: 24 in

Topaz, Utah, January 1944


Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee


Unframed, stretched canvas.

Image of a winter scene featuring a solitary figure standing next to a barren tree in a white expanse between barracks in Topaz concentration camp, Topaz, Utah. Part of a building visible at left edge, foreground, in front of a low fence extending across image. Auditorium partially visible on right, midground. Figure and tree in center. Row of snow covered barracks in distance.

Signed, LR: Hisako Hibi / Jan 1944

Winters in Topaz concentration camp were difficult because of the severe temperatures and lack of insulation for most buildings. The only positive aspect of the winters was the fact that the dust storms subsided. However, instead of the dust storms the snow and alkaline dirt turned into a sticky mud. Hisako Hibi suggests that environment with her painting of a winter scene in which the snowy ground appears tinged with a yellow and beige cast. A lone figure stands in the distance near the only other sign of life in the painting, a barren tree. The composition of the work is interesting, with the corner of a building at the far left making its way into the picture plane. It is unclear whether Hibi took some factual liberties in painting this work by inserting a section of the barbed wire fence in the foreground. The fence seems to run in front of the building on the left, suggesting that it stood outside of the confines of camp. It is possible that this building was used by the Caucasion administration of Topaz, since some of their facilities were located beyond the barbed wire fence. If this is the case, it is interesting to note that Hibi positions herself outside the confines of the fence, along with that structure at the left. In the artist's imagination she composed her view of camp from a slight distance, in the space beyond the enclosure.

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