Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Hisako Hibi Collection
Consult repository  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (214.45 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Hisako Hibi Collection
    Origination: Hibi, Hisako
    Repository: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Los Angeles, California 90012
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee.


    Collection is not open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Hirasaki National Resource Center at the Japanese American National Museum (collections@janm.org).

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Hisako Hibi Collection, Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee, Japanese American National Museum (96.201).


    Hisako Hibi (1907-1991) Artist
    Born Hisako Shimizu in Fukui, Japan in 1907, Hibi came to the United States in 1920 with her parents. When her father decided to move the family back to Japan in 1925, she boldly chose to remain on her own in San Francisco. Hibi enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, to pursue her aspirations to become a painter. Among the influential students and teachers at the school was another Issei artist, George Matsusaburo Hibi (1886-1947). Their mutual commitment to art fostered a profound relationship, and they were married in the fall of 1930. During the next decade the Hibis individually exhibited in a variety of significant venues throughout the Bay Area, including the important annual exhibitions of the San Francisco Art Association.
    Like most Japanese Americans, the Hibis were forever altered by the circumstances of World War II. Along with over 8,000 other Japanese Americans from the Bay Area, the Hibis along with their two young children, were sent first to Tanforan race track in San Bruno, California. Later they were transferred to Topaz Concentration Camp in Utah. At both Tanforan and Topaz the Hibis became involved in the art school, founded by their friend and fellow artist, Chiura Obata. In addition to teaching classes in the art school, the Hibis continued to paint.
    Hisako Hibi created at least seventy oil paintings during her incarceration, not to mention numerous sketches. Her works range from landscape scenes to portrait images. Overall, Hisako Hibi's paintings from this period reveal the personal experiences of a young woman, mother and artist. After the war the Hibis relocated to New York City. Tragically, George Hibi died in 1947, shortly after the family had settled into their new life. Hisako Hibi worked as a dressmaker to support herself and her two young children, all the while continuing to paint. In 1953 Hibi became a U.S. citizen. The following year she moved back to San Francisco where she remained until her death in 1991. Hibi exhibited widely in the Bay Area in the postwar years. In 1985 the San Francisco Arts Council selected her as Artist of the Year.

    Scope and Content

    Sixty-three oil paintings painted by Hibi at Tanforan Assembly Center in California and Topaz concentration camp in Utah from 1942 to 1945. Subjects include various daily activities, still lifes, and landscapes.