a painting of an interment camp wtih rows of wood shacks leading into a gray desert there is a red, stormy sky above

Miki Hayakawa (1899-1953), Hisako Hibi (1907-1991), and Miné Okubo (1912-2001) were three of the most active and visible female artists of Japanese descent of the pre-World War II generations. Their critically acclaimed careers spanned eight decades and four US states, yet the full extent of their work has been understudied in 20th-century American art history. Pictures of Belonging is an unprecedented (re)introduction featuring more than 100 artworks by these trailblazers, with many on public display for the first time. By tracing their prewar, wartime, and postwar artistic production, Pictures of Belonging illuminates an expanded view of the “American experience” by women who used artmaking to “take up space,” to make their presence and existence visible, and to assert that they belonged.

painted self portraits of trehh women artists place side by side in one file
Images from left to right: Hisako Hibi, Study for a Self-Portrait, ca. 1944. Japanese American National Museum 99.63.1; Miki Hayakawa, Untitled (Woman with Blue Hair), ca. 1930s. Oil on canvas, 18 x 19.25 in. Collection of Richard Sakai; Miné Okubo, Portrait Study, ca. 1937. Tempera on panel, 23.5 x 19.5 in. SAAM

Hibi and Okubo were unjustly imprisoned at Topaz near Delta, Utah, from 1942 until 1944/45. Their depictions of life in Utah during this time add special significance to this exhibition at the UMFA, the first venue to host Pictures of Belonging on its national tour.

See all events related to Pictures of Belonging here

The traveling version of Pictures of Belonging is curated by Dr. ShiPu Wang and is organized by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California. This exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art and is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Bank of America, Terra Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts Logos in Black

Presenting Sponsor:

Bank of America

Curatorial Sponsors:

George S. and Dolores Dorè Eccles Foundation
Stephanie and Tim Harpst

Installation Sponsors:

The Tozer Endowment for Special Exhibitions 
The Dumke Endowment for Special Exhibitions

Image: Hisako Hibi, Eastern Sky 750 A.M., Feb. 25, 1945. Japanese American National Museum 96.601.47

Japanese-American Community Resources 

Many of the Japanese-American artists featured in Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo and Chiura Obata: Layer by Layer were unjustly interned at the Central Utah Relocation Center (known as Topaz) from 1942 until 1945.

Curious to learn more about the troubling history of internment and celebrate the active Japanese American community in the Intermountain West today? These organizations, museums, and festivals offer valuable resources.