Masumi Hayashi (1945 – 2006), a renowned Ohio fine arts photographer, was born in Arizona in the Gila River Relocation Camp – a United States government war relocation camp where Japanese-Americans were placed in internment during World War II. She was raised in California and attended UCLA briefly before receiving a B.A. in Visual Arts from Florida State University in 1975 and an M.F.A. in Photography from Florida State in 1977. Hayashi moved to Ohio in 1982, where she lived and worked for the remainder of her life as an artist and professor of photography at Cleveland State University.
Hayashi is known for her panoramic photo collages in which she would photograph landscapes and interiors in dozens of small adjacent increments and then painstakingly arrange them in sequential fragments in grids, putting the bits and pieces of her subjects back together to form scenes reconstituted to convey the emtional and visual impact Hayashi intended to evoke. The majority of these works documented unpleasant aspects of American life, including post-industrial landscapes, missile silos, abandoned prisons, and EPA Superfund sites. Images of people are rare in these images, creating a quiet tone and sense of abandonment.
In her final two series, Hayashi explored her Japanese heritage, photographing the internment camp at which she was born, as well as Buddhist temples and worship sites throughout Asia. Both series were spiritual passages – one confronting pain and the other seeking healing. The creation of Hayashi’s works required a meditative frame of mind from the artist, and in turn, they evoke that same state of contemplation in the viewer.
This work, Manzanar Relocation Camp, Monument, Inyo, California, is part of the permanent collection of the Akron Art Museum. It is displayed as part of the #CelebrateOhioArts 2017.