Japanese American National Museum
Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

Hideo Wataguchi, Leimert Park neighborhood, Los Angeles California, 2007.

Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden
June 17, 2007 - January 6, 2008

Gardens were among the first forms of Japanese culture to gain popularity in the United States. Since their introduction to the American public at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Japanese-style gardens have profilerated across the country.

Ruth Asawa holding a form-within-form sculpture, 1952.

The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air
March 2007

This exhibition represents a retrospective of this Nisei artist's enduring and richly varied career. Born on a truck farm in Southern California, Asawa was incarcerated at Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas during World War II. In the 1940s, she attended Black Mountain College, the famous experimental art school in North Carolina.

Yuichi Hirata [close-up head], c. 1943

Ansel Adams at Manzanar
November 11, 2006 - February 18, 2007

Ansel Adams at Manzanar, organized by the Honolulu Academy of Arts, includes over 50 vintage prints from the collections of the Library of Congress, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and the Japanese American National Museum.

kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa
June 8 - October 29, 2006

kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa is an exhibition of portraits by artist Kip Fulbeck, who traveled the country photographing more than 1,000 Hapa of all ages and walks of life. Originally a derogatory label derived from the Hawaiian word for half, the word Hapa has been embraced as a term of pride by many whose mixed-race heritage includes Asian or Pacific Rim ancestry.

Installation view at the Vitra Design Museum. Bench, 1966.

Isamu Noguchi: Sculptural Design
February 5 - May 14, 2006

In a career that spanned six decades, Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) produced a groundbreaking body of work that encompassed multiple disciplines to break down the barriers between sculptural art and functional design. Isamu Noguchi - Sculptural Design celebrates this legacy by integrating over 75 of Noguchi's works into a series of dramatic installations conceptualized by renowned theater designer and artist Robert Wilson. The exhibition includes Noguchi's portrait busts, unique stone sculptures, and set designs for the Martha Graham Dance Company as well as his iconic furniture designs and Akari lamps, all arranged in thematic settings with bold lighting, visually striking tableaux, and evocative sounds.

Southern California Gardeners' Federation: Fifty Years
October 25 - November 13, 2005

From the early 1900s, Japanese American gardeners have cared for their clients' yards, community gardens, and public parks throughout the West Coast. Often faced with limited job opportunities in other fields, Japanese Americans turned to gardening as one of the ways they could start their own business with few resources - just mowers, hand tools, and perhaps a truck. Through their work, they also found an outlet for their creativity and a way to build community pride.

Toshiko Takaezu. Three Graces. Glazed stoneware. Photo by Fitzhugh Karol, 2005.

Toshiko Takaezu: The Art of Clay
August 6 - November 27, 2005

Toshiko Takaezu: The Art of Clay features the recent work of Toshiko Takaezu, an artist at the forefront of breaking down the traditional barriers between functional and sculptural art. Known for her experiments in the expressive potential of clay, Takaezu's work is characterized by exuberant glazes and a meditation on the power of medium to communicate abstract and specific meanings. The exhibition includes examples of Takaezu's closed forms -- rounded vessels with only a tiny vestigial opening, spherical 'moon pots', and tree-like forms.

Big Drum: Taiko in the United States
July 14, 2005 - January 8, 2006

With its thunderous rhythms and energetic movements, taiko is a powerful and enormously popular style of group drumming. In Japanese, the word taiko translates to 'big drum' or 'fat drum'. While drumming has always been a part of Japanese and Japanese American culture, it was not until the latter part of the twentieth century that taiko evolved into the ensemble form practiced and performed today. The pioneering American taiko groups were formed in California during the social and political tumult of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Today, there are hundreds of groups throughout North America and Hawai'i.

Japan after Perry: Views of Yokohama and Meiji Japan
February 6 - May 1, 2005

The opening of Yokohama, Japan, to trade with the United States and Europe in 1859 ended more than two centuries of Japanese isolation and transformed the rural fishing village into a thriving international port. Documenting this early history of Japan's gateway to the world, artists produced colorful woodblock prints of city scenes, urbane residents, and harbor views, capturing this tumultuous era of Japan's transformation into a modern industrial state and international power. Organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Japan After Perry: Views of Yokohama and Meiji Japan showcases 24 woodblock prints from the collection of Ambassador and Mrs. William Leonhart.

Lasting Beauty: Miss Jamison and the Student Muralists
February 6 - July 24, 2005

Art teacher Mabel Rose Jamison wrote, "a good painting is a thing of lasting beauty" in testament to the ambitious mural project undertaken by eight of her students at Rohwer High School. At any school during any time period, such a project would require a teacher of immense dedication, and students with profound maturity and skill. What makes the story of these murals particularly extraordinary is that it took place in an American concentration camp. Lasting Beauty showcases the only remaining remnants of the murals - preliminary paintings executed on sheets of cloth saved for decades by Jamison herself. These works of art tell the story of the incarceration through the eyes of eight gifted students and their visionary teacher.



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