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San Bruno, Calif.,
Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee
Unframed, stretched canvas. Image of person walking in foreground, buildings and other people in middle and mountains in the background.
Signed LR: Hisako Hibi / 8/42 ; BACK: Hisako Hibi 1615 Sutter St. #903 San Francisco, CA 94109 Painted at Tanforan Horse Stall June 24, 1942
Perhaps one of the most profound challenges brought about by Executive Order 9066 was the abrupt change in lifestyle forced onto Japanese Americans. Life in camp meant that families no longer had a private space reserved for certain social rituals, such as eating dinner together. Life became completely institutionalized and all sense of order and custom that people knew before the evacuation was abandoned to the parameters set by the government. Among the changes was the fact that internees had to become accustomed to having separate buildings for doing laundry and taking showers. There was often a short supply of hot water, as well as long waiting lines to use these facilities. The mundane task of washing the family laundry, thus, became a relatively monumental task for many women. In this painting Hibi notes that she has painted a woman in the foreground carrying her washing. Yet, in this scene there is no reference to the circumstances of camp life which totally altered this and other simple everyday tasks. Instead, Hibi has decided to portray this figure against the backdrop of a quiet and deserted portrait of camp. The viewer does not get any sense of the difficulties involved in this chore, partially because the woman is so small in relation to the larger landscape and buildings. Perhaps the isolation of the larger camp experience is being implied. The barracks clearly identify it as a camp scene but the mountain range and trees in the background assert the presence of something beyond the confines of the camp grounds.
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