Project overview: Celebrate the legacy of Japanese American artist Chiura Obata through an event and video focused on his early 20th-century Yosemite art, immigrant experiences and perspectives on nature.

How your support helps: This project delves into the life of Chiura Obata, a renowned artist and teacher who was born in Japan in 1885 and moved to the U.S. in 1903. Obata used Japanese techniques to capture California landscapes, including in Yosemite, where he famously created dozens of pencil, ink and watercolor drawings during a six-week trip in 1927. He later taught at the University of California, Berkeley.

Your support will fund a weekend of guided hikes, art classes and campfire programs, through which up to 50 participants will explore Obata’s philosophy of Dai-Shizen (“Great Nature”), use art to connect with the natural world, and consider different cultural perspectives on the environment. The group will also learn about Obata’s experience as a Japanese American immigrant, including the year he spent incarcerated in a World War II internment camp in Utah. This grant also funds a video that will be available to the public, to give a wide audience the opportunity to learn about Obata and his artistic and cultural legacy.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park, Japanese American National Museum, Manzanar National Historic Site, National Japanese American Historical Society and multiple Asian American community groups.

Bob Loudon

Interpretation and Education, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

“This program will focus on Obata's legacy and philosophy of ‘Dai-Shizen,’ or ‘Great Nature,’ an utterly reverent view of nature's power to help heal and sustain us physically and emotionally.”