Miki Hayakawa

Name Miki Hayakawa
Born June 7 1899
Died March 6 1953
Birth Location Hokkaido, Japan
Generational Identifier


A prominent California oil painter and printmaker celebrated for her modernist forms and rich use of colors. Hayakawa was part of a fledgling Nisei art milieu that exhibited widely in the 1920s and 1930s.

Miki Hayakawa was born in Hokkaido, Japan, on June 7, 1899. In 1908, at age nine, she emigrated to California with her mother to join her father, a pastor, who had arrived a year earlier. Resolute to make art her career, she defied her father's disapproval of her chosen vocation and left the family home in Oakland while still a teenager. Hayakawa received scholarships to study at the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts (which was then located in Berkeley) in 1922, and at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the next several years.

While at the School of Fine Arts, which she attended intermittently until 1929, she became close friends with classmates Yun Gee and George Matsusaburo Hibi , who served as her mentors. Like Gee, her paintings from the 1920s show influence by cubist studies and modern color. Early in her studies at the School of Fine Arts, she won a first prize and an honorable mention for her work. In 1924, she was included in her first group exhibition at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and would exhibit there again in 1925 and 1931. Hayakawa continued to exhibit at prominent California museums for nearly a decade including the Los Angeles Museum (1927, 1936), the San Francisco Museum of Art (1935, 1938), and the Foundation of Western Art, Los Angeles (1937).

In 1937, Hayakawa lived in Monterey and Pacific Grove and continued to paint and exhibit both locally and in the San Francisco Bay Area. With the onset of war in 1941, she was detained at the Stockton Assembly Center and then at the Santa Fe Justice Department Camp, although she was given permission to live in the Santa Fe community at large, and became familiar with other Santa Fe artists including John Sloan and Foster Jewell.

From 1942-1953, Hayakawa remained in New Mexico, creating Santa Fe-inspired landscapes and portraits. She married artist Preston McCrossen in 1947.

She died from cancer at the age of 53 on March 6, 1953, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Brown, Michael D. Views from Asian California, 1920-1965. Michael D. Brown, 1992.

Chang, Gordon H., Johnson, Mark Dean, and Karlstrom, Paul J. editors. Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970 . Stanford University Press, 2008.

Japanese and Japanese American Painters in the United States: A Half Century of Hope and Suffering, 1896-1945 . Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum and Nippon Television Network Corporation, 1995.

Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. University of Texas Press, 1998.

Last updated March 24, 2015, 10:29 p.m..