SEIZAN Gallery New York is excited to announce Things She Carries, a group exhibition of three female artists: Miné Okubo, Aya Fujioka, and Yukiko Hata. The exhibition opens from November 9th through December 16th, 2023, with the opening reception on Thursday, November 9th, 6-8pm. An Artist Talk with Aya Fujioka is scheduled for Saturday, November 11th, 2-3pm.
Things She Carries is a group exhibition of three female artists who deeply share their commitment to reconsider Japan’s historical representation on WWII, and its impact on their lived experience in contemporary society. For this exhibition, SEIZAN proudly introduces the drawings by Japanese American artist Miné Okubo (1912-2001), which were made during her incarceration at Camp Topaz Relocation Center in Utah from 1942 to 1945. With bold strokes of charcoal on paper, Okubo produced portraits of her fellow detainees in scenes of daily life. In contrast to her illustrative drawings in Citizen 13660, which is the graphic memoir she is most known for, these drawings have a private aspect and reflect the raw emotions of that painful time at the incarceration camp. The exhibition features two more Japanese artists: photographer Aya Fujioka, and painter Yukiko Hata.
Aya Fujioka presents her award-winning series Here Goes River, a tranquil, private documentation of her hometown, Hiroshima. A selection of nearly thirty photographs from the series are on view. They show scenes from everyday life around the delta area of Hiroshima, the site of the atomic bomb devastation 70 years ago. Mundane scenes against a backdrop of historic disaster are captured: people gathering in front of a TV showing news of President Obama’s visits to the city; high school students practicing a dance choreography with the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome in the background.
Here Goes River started as Fujioka’s personal chronicle of re-embracing her hometown. It tells of the personal rediscovery of the artist’s own practice of photography. After returning to Japan in defeat from NYC, Fujioka moved to Hiroshima City in 2013. There she began photographing the neighborhood and documenting her daily life. While exploring how to document the city as it is, not as a cliche of the “Hiroshima” icon of historic disaster, she began to rebuild her relationship with the city. Some photos are of her apartment interiors taken from the same view over time. The viewer is presented with time passing and the story of how the empty room with a suitcase changes and grows into a cluttered room. The series won her the prestigious Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2017.
Yukiko Hata presents oil paintings of eccentric portraits and sceneries in venomously bright colors. Her works offer critical commentary on Japanese contemporary society, and carry the WWII stories of her family. Hata’s experience as a victim of The Great Earthquake of Northern Japan in 2011 and its aftermath provides further material.
“Home,” the largest two-panel painting Hata completed for the show depicts a giant child in school uniform squatting in an empty baseball field. Half the child’s face is a wrecked boat. He is holding a broken umbrella over a decayed house at his feet. On the back of the field appear advertising signs with slogans. The painting was inspired by the artist’s experience following the Great Earthquake. While walking in her destroyed hometown Hata found a banner that said “Gambaro, Iwate (Let’s Do Our Best, Iwate!).” “I felt despair. I didn’t want to do my best. I did not want to be positive or to move forward. I just wanted to stand with my unbearable sorrow and despair. With this painting, I embraced my emotions,” Hata says of this painting.
Miné Okubo (1912-2001) was born in Riverside, California as a Japanese American nisei (2nd generation). After receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Okubo began her prolific career as a painter and continued painting until her death in 2001. Okubo is well known for Citizen 13660, her graphic memoir published in 1946, in which she illustrated her life in the internment camps from 1942 to 1945. The book won her an American Book Award in 1984. After moving to New York City, Okubo worked as a freelance illustrator and contributed to many publications including Fortune and The New Yorker. Okubo was prolific yet she chose to show very little. Her works have been included in exhibitions in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago among many others. The first survey of Okubo’s seven-decade career Mine Okubo’s Eyes: A Life In Color curated by ShiPu Wang, is scheduled in 2024 for the Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties, in Riverside, CA.
Aya Fujioka (b. 1972 ) was born in Hiroshima and studied photography at Nihon University College of Art in Tokyo. With a scholarship from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan, she stayed in New York from 2007 through 2012 and created the series Still Lives. After returning to her hometown Hiroshima, she completed Here Goes River, which won her numerous awards including the Kimura Ihei Photography Award and the Hayashi Tadahiko Award. Fujioka’s works have been exhibited at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, The National Art Center in Tokyo, Hiroshima Prefectural Museum, Higashi-Hiroshima City Museum of Art, and Spiral Gallery in Tokyo among many others. Fujioka currently lives and works in Higashi Hiroshima City in Japan.
Yukiko Hata (b.1988) was born in Sendai City in Japan. After receiving her Master of Art in Tohoku University of Art and Design, she received a Holbein Scholarship and continued her practice of oil painting. Her works have been exhibited at the Yamagata Biennale 2018, The Shiogama Sugimura Jun Museum of Art in Miyagi, Japan, SEIZAN Gallery New York and Tokyo, among many others. Hata currently lives and works in Sendai City in Japan.