Japanese American National Museum
Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

'Study for a Self-Portait, c. 1944'.

A Process of Reflection: Paintings by Hisako Hibi
July 27, 1999 - January 30, 2000

In May 1942, Issei artist Hisako Hibi (1907–1991) and her family were sent to U.S. concentration camps along with over 120,000 other Japanese Americans. An active artist in the Bay Area, Hibi continued to paint during her three years in the Topaz, Utah concentration camp. Her World War II incarceration paintings miraculously survived several decades, including a move to New York City and then to San Francisco.

This exhibition of selected paintings by this important artist sheds light on her early career and this crucial historical period.

'Land of Projection, 1992'.

Bruce and Norman Yonemoto: Memory, Matter, and Modern Romance
January 23 - July 4, 1999

This provocative exhibition surveys the film, video, and video installation art of Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, Los Angeles-based, Sansei (third generation Japanese American) brothers who have worked collaboratively since 1976.

The first comprehensive exhibition of their career, it includes a newly commissioned piece, Silicon Valley, which combines dramatic projection of archival film footage of the atomic bomb blast, television commercials, and clips from Hollywood movies.

Kodama family boarding bus. Collection of Visual Communications (NRC.1998.232.1).

Coming Home: Memories of Japanese American Resettlement
August 14, 1998 - February 7, 1999

Though the end of the war brought “freedom” from the confines of America’s concentration camps, Japanese Americans came home to face obstacles in housing, employment, and discrimination.

In addition to outlining some of the varied challenges facing Japanese American resettlers, this exhibit will explore the process of rebuilding community as well as the individual struggle to come to terms with the larger “camp” experience.

Humanity Above Nation: The Impact of Manjiro and Heco on America and Japan
May 1 - August 2, 1998

This exhibit explores the lives and careers of two 19th century shipwrecked sailors from Japan who were among the first Japanese to be educated in America and who went on to help shape the relations between the two countries.

From Bento to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai'i
March 14, 1998 - January 3, 1999

This exhibition traces the evolution of Japanese American identity in multicultural Hawai‘i as seen through the eyes of the first generation to the present.

Americans of Japanese ancestry (AJAs) share their story through the use of personal artifacts, family photographs, and first-person accounts. Told from an AJA perspective the uniqueness of the Island culture is evident and is truly a story involving all of Hawai‘i’s people.

Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel

The Heart Mountain Story
February 18, 1998 - August 22, 1999

In January 1943, photographers Hansel Mieth and her husband Otto Hagel were sent on assignment by Life Magazine to photograph the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming.

Although they were well known for their sensitive portrayal of migrant farm workers in the 1930s, their Heart Mountain photos went unpublished and remained hidden until 1995, when their photos were displayed at San Francisco’s Vision Gallery. This traveling exhibition organized by former Heart Mountain inmate Mamoru Inouye includes photographs by Mieth and Hagel.

Gift of Hiroshi & Chieko Shikuma Family, Japanese American National Museum (96.164.1). Courtesy of the Kalnicki Family. Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Finding Family Stories
January 22 - April 12, 1998

This is the third year of Finding Family Stories, an Arts Partnership Project initiated by the Japanese American National Museum in 1995 to create a dialogue among the diverse communities that shape the state of California.

In collaboration with the Skirball Cultural Center and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, this year’s exhibition presents family stories of the Japanese American, Jewish American, and California Indian communities. Participating artists are Joyce Dallal, Aaron Glass, Eddy Kurushima, Frank LaPena, Judith Lowry, and Kim Yasuda.

Calligraphics by Isamu Noguchi, 1957.

Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions: Asian American Artists and Abstraction, 1945-1970
December 10, 1997 - February 15, 1998

This exhibition features the art of American artists of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean descent who employ traditional Asian art techniques and philosophies to explore abstract art. Isamu Noguchi, George Tsutakawa, Chinyee, and Don Ahn are among the 50 artists included.

Fire Station, c. 1945, Oil on paper.

Kenjiro Nomura: An Artist's View of the Japanese American Internment
October 4, 1997 - January 11, 1998

On April 30, 1942, Kenjiro Nomura, his wife, and son were forcibly removed from their homes in Seattle and incarcerated in the Puyallup Assembly Center. Eventually they were transported, along with nearly 10,000 other Japanese Americans to the Minidoka concentration camp in Hunt, Idaho. At the time of the removal, Nomura was already an established and prolific artist. He worked at various other jobs to support himself financially, including operating a sign painting shop in Seattle. At both Puyallup and Minidoka he worked again as a sign painter and created many images of camp life including landscapes and portraits of daily rituals. Nomura produced a visual record of his experiences with whatever materials he could find, often using industrial paints and government issued paper. This exhibition provides an opportunity to view a portion of this important collection of works.

Asato Yamamoto, Mitsugu Hamanaka and Mitoki Kawaguchi, Fresno, California, June 1938.

Sumo U.S.A.: Wrestling the Grand Tradition
July 3 - November 30, 1997

Though known as the national sport of Japan, sumo has a long history in the United States. Prior to World War II, the story of sumo in the U.S. is a Japanese American one, where it played an important and largely forgotten role in many Japanese American communities in Hawai‘i and on the West Coast.



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