WSU Schnitzer Museum showcases new exhibitions

Black and white photo of migrant worker cutting and harvesting asparagus.
Irwin Nash, Elizondo mother cutting and harvesting asparagus, 1972

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Washington State University welcomes the summer semester with two new exhibitions opening Tuesday, May 24 titled: “Keiko Hara: Four Decades of Paintings and Prints” and “Our Stories, Our Lives: Irwin Nash Photographs of Yakima Valley Migrant Labor.”

In the exhibition, “Our Stories, Our Lives: Irwin Nash Photographs of Yakima Valley Migrant Labor,” a selection of over 40 photographs from the Irwin Nash Yakima Valley Migrant Labor Collection will be on display at the museum in collaboration with WSU Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections. These images capture the moments of daily life—children playing, Chicano student meetings, family scenes, asparagus harvests—as well as chronicle an era of rising labor and protest movements, strikes, and social awareness that swept across Washington state and the nation.

The bounty and diversity of Washington State’s agriculture is possible because of the labor of agricultural workers. However, this work, and the individuals who perform it, are often hidden from view. In 1967, Irwin Nash visited the Yakima Valley to take photographs for a freelance magazine piece on valley agriculture. After completing this assignment, he nevertheless returned to the farming communities around Yakima each season until 1976 to document the lives of these workers. In the process, he created a compelling archive of more than 9,400 photographs. 

Keiko Hara, Verse · Ma and Ki · Memory 

Organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU and guest curated by Lipi Turner-Rahman, PhD, Development Director at Washington State University. Funding for this exhibition is provided by the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Endowment, Nancy Spitzer, and members of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU.

Keiko Hara: Four Decades of Paintings and Prints” explores Keiko Hara’s relationship to her surrounding environment formulated through her ongoing series titled, “Topophilia.” Meaning “a strong love of place,” the term topophilia, with its connection to humanistic geography, also represents a universal desire to hold onto ephemeral moments of beauty and sadness as related to conceptions of place—even if unattainable. This mini-survey exhibition chronicles Hara’s unwavering commitment to painting and her unique form of Japanese woodblock printmaking, over a 40-year period. 

Her abstract compositions are at once immensely sensitive yet executed in vibrant color with references to water, fire, skies, and verdant lands, offering rich metaphorical imagery. Hara’s longtime home in Walla Walla, Washington, situated in an expansive valley flanked by the Blue Mountains, figures centrally within her work as does a more internal investigation into the poetics of space. 

Hara was born in North Korea to Japanese parents, raised in Japan, and moved to the United States in 1971. She studied printmaking at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan earning an MFA in 1976 and taught for many years at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, retiring in 2006. Among museums that include Hara’s work in their permanent collections are the National Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Racine Art Museum, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU. Funding is provided by Ainslie and Keith Peoples, the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Endowment, Nancy Spitzer, the Walla Walla Foundry, and members of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU.

LOCATION | The  Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU is located in the Crimson Cube (on Wilson Road across from Martin Stadium and the CUB) on the WSU Pullman campus. For more information please contact the museum at 509-335-1910. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 1–4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sunday, Monday, and University holidays. 

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