Hidden in Plain Sight: Selected Writings of Karin Higa

Edited by Julie Ault
Foreword by Pamela M. Lee, introduction by Julie Ault
420 pages, 250 images, hardcover, 6 ¾ x 9 inches
ISBN: 978-1-954947-02-3


Edited by the renowned artist, curator, writer, and editor Julie Ault, Hidden in Plain Sight brings together essential writings by the art historian and curator Karin Higa (1966–2013). The selected essays, written between 1992 and 2011, focus on the creation of Japanese internment camps and the artistic production and communities that took root within them, as well as on the individual and collective narratives of Asian American artists in response to discriminatory immigration policies. While exploring issues of national identity and immigration, Higa recuperates significant artists and oeuvres from historical neglect and regards works by contemporary artists to examine how art acts as both a source for cultural identity and a transmitter of culture.

This book reveals how Higa’s conviction that art and the lived experience of the past are indissolubly linked was at the root of her methodological modeling of an Asian American art history. Moving between portrayals of milieux such as artists’ networks in the camps, Little Tokyo communities, and cities around the world—across ethnic, geographic, and stylistic boundaries—and case studies of oeuvres and biographies, she recovers vital art practices and hidden histories of creative struggle and efflorescence, in the process mapping individual practices, networks, and communal life, as fertile creative contexts. Higa shows how artists of Asian descent have moved past the divide between United States and their ancestral homes by using their freedom as artists to more broadly define their culture.


This indispensable book makes Karin Higa’s pioneering writing on Japanese and Asian American art available in a single volume. Higa’s range of study, from the Japanese internment camps to contemporary art, makes clear the persistence of anti-Asian racism and eloquently demonstrates how artists have confronted it. Her work has never been more relevant.
—David Joselit, art historian and professor, Harvard University

In Karin Higa’s writing, I recognize the feeling of paradox in being an artist in Asian America and the commitment to showing the affective complexity in living and art. She was the writer who could reflect this most fully, most deeply, most poignantly, most directly.
—Patty Chang, artist and professor, University of Southern California

Karin Higa’s pioneering work as curator, art historian, and community leader helped to establish the footing for the Japanese American and Asian American art history that we know today. This volume, astutely edited by Julie Ault, makes visible that work, beautifully honoring Higa’s intelligence,  love of art, political awareness, and no-nonsense attitude. Higa is a model for how one can pursue deep cultural transformation that will take real hold for the long-term.
Miwon Kwon, curator, writer, professor, University of California, Los Angeles

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