We will continue to form silent voices: Okinawan Women Artists
Within these contexts, in 2012, the Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum held a special exhibition of Okinawan women artists, entitled Art is My Life—Okinawan Women Artists. Works by 13 Okinawan women artists and other women artists with Okinawan roots were presented in that particular exhibition, including Kuba Toyo and Yamamoto Fumiko who led the Postwar Okinawan Women’s Art Movement, as well as works by Laura Kina, a fourth-generation Okinawan artist whose family is from Hawaii. It was the first attempt to hold an exhibition of Okinawan women artists throughout the time since the Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese jurisdiction in 1972. Also in 2012, a joint exhibition, Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012, organized by the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts and Mie Prefectural Art Museum has presented the works of 50 women artists from Asia, including three Okinawan women artist, two of whom, Yamashiro Chikako (1976-) and Sakata Kiyoko (1972-), graduated from the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts.
To summarize, the environment and expressionism that surrounded Okinawan woman artists from 1945 to present were shifted around the time of Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese jurisdiction in 1972. From Kuba and the others who started the postwar Women art movement and led the formation of Okinawa Women Artist Association, and from Yamamoto’s art activity, this tremendous endeavor which still continues on today resulted in the group show Okinawan Women Arts Exhibition in 1974, sponsored by Ryubo Department Store in Naha, Okinawa.
Tomiyama Megumi [豊見山 愛] is Chief Curator of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum (OPAM). She was a curator of the Urasoe Art Museum of Ryukyuan lacquer craft and Art (1999−2001), and of the Library and Art Museum of Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts (1993−1999). She has curated major exhibitions including Okinawan Artists: Art is My Life – Okinawan Women Artists (2012) and Natoyama Aijun: Natoyama Loved Okinawa (2010) at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum; The Aboriginal Tribe of Taiwan Textiles: Okamura Kichiemon Collection (1995) at the Library and Art Museum of Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, an exhibitions focused on the textiles of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan.