SiteMapNihongo
 Japanese American National Museum
Collections & Research

In front of the auditorium

Hibi, Hisako [ bio ]

In front of the auditorium
Enlarge Image (87.8KB)

painting
H: 20 in, W: 24 in
oil
canvas

Topaz, Utah, January 1944

(96.601.23)

Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee

Description

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.

Inscription
Signed, LR: Hisako Hibi / Jan 1944

History
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.

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).

 

 

Jump to Top of Page Japanese American National Museum

 
janm.org home
Copyright © 1998-2017 Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles California 90012   ▪   phone: (213) 625-0414