Chiura Obata (1885-1975) was a well know Japanese-American artist who had a long and interesting life creating art. Born in Japan, he moved to the United States to further his studies in 1903. He visited Yosemite National Park shortly upon arrival, and thus began a lifelong connection to the area. He taught for many years at the University of California, Berkeley. He was detained during World War II and continued his teachings while at Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. After retirement he and his wife, Haruko Kohashi, led tours to Japan. He continued teaching, lecturing and visiting his beloved Yosemite until he passed away at 90.
We started the project by watching a clip from the Ken Burns, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. We talked about Obata’s life, his family, and his art. The children looked at the book, Obata’s Yosemite for their inspiration. We used oil pastels and watercolor—their use of color is impressive!
This was one of the more popular shows at our Gallery (a.k.a. the bulletin board outside our classroom). We attracted many viewers and our young artists received a lot of positive feedback for their work.