Hanako O'Leary

Awarded 2020

My name is Hanako O’Leary. I was born and raised by my Japanese mother and American father. I grew up roaming the suburbs of Chicago. Every year, for 2 months during the summer holiday, my mother would take my siblings and I back to our ancestral home in Hiroshima, Japan. These summers were spent learning how to cook, clean, and honor our ancestors from my four aunts, Nagako, Nobuko, Atsuko, and Masako. I attended this annual pilgrimage until the year I turned 18. These summer months would deeply influence my spiritual beliefs, artistic voice, and feminine ideals.

I have studied art within institutional walls and beyond. Today, I live and work on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish tribes and Dwamish people. Spending most of my life on American soil, but always under a Japanese matriarchy, I learned to bridge these identities through art, employing traditional Japanese imagery to narrate my current American story.

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