Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo

Media - 2023.6.1 - SAAM-2023.6.1_1 - 146902

Hisako Hibi, Floating Clouds, 1944, oil on canvas, 19 1⁄16 × 23 × 1 1⁄2 in. (48.4 × 58.4 × 3.8 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the American Women’s History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, 2023.6.1

Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo is an in-depth look at three trailblazing American artists of Japanese descent who, until now, have been excluded from the story of modernism in the United States.

Description

Pictures of Belonging: Miki Hayakawa, Hisako Hibi, and Miné Okubo is an unprecedented exhibition that explores in depth three trailblazing American artists of Japanese descent and asserts their rightful place in American art.

The exhibition illuminates not only the expansive and diverse bodies of work by Hayakawa, Hibi, and Okubo, but also a nuanced picture of how these women, as the minority among the minority in an art world dominated by male (and predominately white) artists, became critically acclaimed artists with long and illustrious careers in the U.S.

Pictures of Belonging aims to drive home the point that the artists’ experience of mass incarceration and relocation as Japanese Americans during WWII, while pivotal, did not define them. These women continued to grow as artists who were fearless in experimenting and exploring new artistic expressions throughout their lives.

Created during the tumultuous decades in American modern history, these artists’ work, along with their stories of resilience, remind us of the power of art in the face of adversity and challenge.

Exhibition includes works by Hisako Hibi and Miné Okubo recently acquired for SAAM’s permanent collection, part of a multi-year initiative to expand and enrich the representation of Asian American experiences, perspectives, and artistic accomplishment in public displays and new scholarship.

This nationally touring exhibition is organized by ShiPu Wang, professor at the University of California, Merced, and the Japanese American National Museum. The coordinating curator at SAAM is Melissa Ho with Anna Lee, curatorial assistant for Asian American art.

Visiting Information

November 15, 2024 – August 172025
Open Daily, 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Free Admission

Credit

This exhibition received federal support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

American Women's History Museum Logo

SAAM Stories

Detail of painting showing the roofs of building and clouds floating over them.
A look at historic new acquisitions of art by two trailblazing Japanese American painters
A photograph of Melissa Ho by Jeff Elkins
Melissa Ho
Curator (20th-Century Art)