Chiura Obata’s Struggle, Trail to Johnson Peak

Selected Artworks from Chiura Obata: American Modern

A watercolor image of rocks and trees along an incline.

Chiura Obata, Struggle, Trail to Johnson Peak, 1930, color woodcut on paper, 11 x 15 3/4 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Obata Family, 2000.76.4, © 1989, Lillian Yuri Kodani.

About this Artwork

During his travels in the Sierra Nevada, Obata often found emotional kinship with the natural world, themes he highlighted in a series of newspaper essays from 1928 entitled “In Praise of Nature.” He wrote of admiring the mountain trees for their fortitude:

The old pine on the Tioga plain has borne avalanches, fought wind, rain, ice, and snow, and has suffered bitter times for several hundred years. Like a warrior at the end of his life, he embraces with his rough roots the young trees growing up and surrounding the fallen parent. When I see this I feel that man should be devoted and struggle hard to follow his own ambition without willful, selfish reasons.