Chiura Obata’s Glorious Struggle

Selected Artworks from Chiura Obata: American Modern

An abstract painting of a tree with wind.

Chiura Obata, Glorious Struggle, 1965, sumi on silk, 36 x 22 inches, Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

About this Artwork

In Glorious Struggle a sequoia forest endures a violent storm, an image of fortitude and perseverance Obata hoped would inspire younger generations of Japanese Americans. He described the picture’s symbolism in a 1965 lecture:

Since I came to the United States in 1903, I saw, faced, and heard many struggles among our Japanese Issei [first-generation immigrants]. The sudden burst of Pearl Harbor was as if the mother earth on which we stood was swept by the terrific force of a big wave of resentment of the American people. Our dignity and our hopes were crushed. In such times I heard the gentle but strong whisper of the Sequoia gigantean: “Hear me, you poor man. I’ve stood here more than three thousand and seven hundred years in rain, snow, storm, and even mountain fire, still keeping my thankful attitude strongly with nature — do not cry, do not spend your time and energy worrying. You have children following. Keep up your unity; come with me.”