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Hibi, Hisako [ bio ]

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H: 20 in, W: 24 in

Topaz, Utah, March 1944


Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee


Unframed, stretched canvas.

Image of a winter scene figures walking between barracks at Topaz concentration camp, Topaz, Utah. Two barracks frame snow covered ground in center; another barracks horizontally across alleyway. A small figure walks around snow banking along barracks at right midground. Icicles hang from eaves. Another figure walks in distance between barracks.

Signed in caps, LL: Hisako Hibi / March 1944

Unlike many of her other paintings of the barracks at Topaz concentration camp, in this work Hisako Hibi does not paint straight rows of buildings as seen from a distance. Here she takes us into a closer view of an alley space between two barracks. The camp layout was systematic in that barracks were equally spaced and arranged into blocks. That formalized division of space is not betrayed in this particular painting. The horizontal view of the barrack in the background cuts off a scene of the rest of the camp. Other buildings and the low rise of the mountain range are visible at the right in the far distance. Hibi positions our view of camp trapped between the matrix of these three structures. The snow covers almost the entire ground, as well as the rooftops. The snow is piled up against the sides of the barracks, except for the strip of clearing at the left. The snow is not pure white but tinged with yellows, greys and blacks, again suggesting the sticky mud created by the mixture of melted snow with the alkaline dirt. A figure stands at the right, solitary and anonymous.

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