Following Her Own Road
This is the first book-length critical examination of the life and work of Miné Okubo (1912-2001), a pioneering Nisei artist, writer, and social activist who repeatedly defied conventional role expectations for women and for Japanese Americans over her seventy-year career. Okubo's landmark Citizen 13660 (first published in 1946) is the first and arguably best-known autobiographical narrative of the wartime Japanese American relocation and confinement experience.
Born in Riverside, California, Okubo was incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II, first at the Tanforan Assembly Center in California and later at the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah. There she taught art and directed the production of a literary and art magazine. While in camp, Okubo documented her confinement experience by making hundreds of paintings and pen-and-ink sketches. These provided the material for Citizen 13660. Word of her talent spread to Fortune magazine, which hired her as an illustrator. Under the magazine's auspices, she was able to leave the camp and relocate to New York City, where she pursued her art over the next half century.
This lovely and inviting book, lavishly illustrated with both color and halftone images, many of which have never before been reproduced, introduces readers to Okubo's oeuvre through a selection of her paintings, drawings, illustrations, and writings from different periods of her life. In addition, it contains tributes and essays on Okubo's career and legacy by specialists in the fields of art history, education, women's studies, literature, American political history, and ethnic studies, essays that illuminate the importance of her contributions to American arts and letters.
Miné Okubo expands the sparse critical literature on Asian American women, as well as that on the Asian American experience in the eastern United States. It also serves as an excellent companion to Citizen 13660, providing critical tools and background to place Okubo's work in its historical and literary contexts.
About the Authors
"It's hard not to like Mine Okubo as we come to know her though this first book-length study of her life and work: feisty, eccentric, and deeply committed to her art. A slim, beautifully produced volume, Mine Okubo: Following Her Own Road is both a tribute to the artist, who died in 2001, and an important step in remedying the dearth of scholarship on her work . . . . this collection offers less the 'definitive version' of her life and work, and more an incitement to re-view it in new ways that throw its power and charm into relief."—Rain Taxi
"Robinson and Creef have produced a fine and wonderful tribute to the life and work of Mine Okubo. . . . There is something for everyone in this remarkably compact but dense volume. . . . The editors have produced a very 'smart' and beautiful retrospective of her life, giving us a sense of Okubo's rightful place in Japanese American history, as well as the larger canvas of American history."—Nichi Bei Times
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