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A young mother

Hibi, Hisako [ bio ]

A young mother
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H: 18 in, W: 22 in

Topaz, Utah, September 1944


Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee


Unframed, stretched canvas.

Image in brown, white and green hues of a woman carrying an infant over her should as she walks in open area towards barracks flanked by sunflowers. Woman walks away from viewer with infant's face visible over her proper right shoulder in left foreground. Partial view of barracks at right edge. Four other barracks at midground next to two water towers. Mountain partially visible in distance between barracks.

Signed, LL: Hisako Hibi / Sept 1944 ; BACK: Painted at the south side of Rec #4 Looking toward Block #5-Eastward-Time-forenoon

The everday living conditions of Topaz concentration camp were difficult considering the poor facilities made available to internees. The hospital and medical staff also were known to have administrative problems, as well as a lack of supplies. There were many young mothers in camp and for those who gave birth at Tanforan assembly center or Topaz there was the added stress of the situation. Internees did not know what their future held so that the happiness of a birth was often mixed with great anxiety. For young mothers the responsibilty of taking care of an infant was especially burdensome, given the cramped quarters and lack of amenities. Hisako Hibi portrays a woman and her baby, making their way alone through the camp grounds. The water tower stands in the distance as she walks between a cluster of barracks. The sunflowers planted to brighten the drab atmosphere of the desert can be seen along the side of one barrack. Hibi was especially sympathetic to the young women with babies. She herself had two children, ages ten and five at the start of the war.

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