Miné Okubo
“In the camps, first at Tanforan and then at Topaz in Utah, I had the opportunity to study the human race from the cradle to the grave, and to see what happens to people when reduced to one status and one condition. Cameras and photographs were not permitted in the camp, so I recorded everything in sketches, drawings and paintings.”

Miné Okubo
Preface, Citizen 13660 -1954
Citizen book

Japanese American artist Miné Okubo (1912-2001) was an extraordinary woman who played a significant role in documenting the mid-20th century history of Japanese Americans in the United States. Her artwork and later outspoken commentary on social justice issues, particularly relating to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, brought her to the attention of a larger segment of the American public.


Mine OkuboMine Okubo

A native of Riverside, CA, Okubo graduated in 1933 from Riverside City College, transferring to the University of California, Berkeley, to pursue a degree in fine arts. Okubo had begun to gain recognition as an artist only to be interned with her family in the Topaz Camp during World War II under Executive Order 9066. She emerged as an iconic figure following the publication of Citizen 13660, the first memoir by an internee. Critics praised the unique, dramatic style of Okubo’s ink drawings and sparse writing, which documented the camp experience.

Following her internment, Okubo moved to New York and worked as an illustrator for Fortune, Time, Life, and The New Yorker. Later, she taught briefly at UC Berkeley. Riverside Community College District selected Okubo as its 1974 Alumnus of the Year and more than 30 years later, Riverside City College named a campus street in her honor. In the early 1980s, she was invited to testify before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and in 1987 she was selected by the California Department of Education as one of 12 women pioneers in the state’s history.