During the United States’s internment of Japanese citizens in World War II, painter and printmaker Hisako Hibi used the canvas as a way to illustrate her family’s experience when they were forcibly displaced from their California home to Tanforan Assembly Center, then later Topaz War Relocation Center. Over the artist’s eight-decade career, Hibi was recognized for her oil works depicting her day-to-day during this period, shedding a light on the dark realities that more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans endured in incarceration during the war.
Now, several of Hibi’s paintings are among over 300 other artworks entering the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection as part of its most recent acquisitions. The newly added works, acquired between December 2022 and October 2023, will be unveiled in the Crown Heights museum’s American Art galleries, expected to open late next year following a reinstallation.
Featuring Grafton Tyler Brown’s landscape paintings of the American West and a multipart Polaroid installation by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, whose solo exhibition is currently on view at the institution, the works expand the Brooklyn Museum’s representation of American and international creators from regions including the Caribbean, East Asia, and West Africa. Other highlights include Whitfield Lovell’s “The Red XII” (2021) from his portrait series exploring Black American history, several plywood works by Nigerian multidisciplinary artists Twins Seven Seven, and the bronze sculpture “Fire Pit ‘Wisdom Through Music’” (2022) by Rashid Johnson.
The museum also acquired works by two contemporary artists of Indigenous heritage. “Untitled (Pink and Blue)” (2022) by Dyani White Hawk (Sičangu Lakota) features a striped pink and blue on canvas and the shadow of an arch — a shape that appears in several of White Hawk’s works. The artist’s practice combines traditional Lakota craftwork with contemporary geometric aesthetics to reveal the persistent influence of Indigenous culture on contemporary art. A sculpture by Dwayne Wilcox (Oglala Lakota), “Son of Stone” (2015), resembles a top hat covered in graphic comic strips and decorated with handmade feathers.
The museum’s recent acquisitions reflect an increase of non-male identifying artists, with women artists like Emily Sargent, the younger sister of Edwardian painter John Singer Sargent whose pencil and watercolor works were rarely exhibited during her lifetime, and Nellie Mae Rowe, a self-taught folk artist known for turning her Georgia home into a living art installation. In addition, “Portrait of Deb (1988-199?)” (2012-2013) by genderqueer textile and collage artist L.J. Roberts is also part of the acquisition. An assemblage of protest buttons, patches, stickers, and loose thread, the work is an archival portrait of an activist’s work in the grassroots campaigns of ACT UP, the Women’s Health Action Mobilization, and the Lesbian Avengers in the late 1980s to mid-’90s.
A number of photographic works are joining the collection, including black-and-white analog prints by Sebastian Milito that chronicle Brooklyn community residents and Joel Sternfeld’s series Our Loss (2018) documenting climate change in Prospect Park.