Sueko Kimura

Name Sueko Kimura
Born June 10 1912
Died December 25 2001
Birth Location Pāpa'ikou, HI
Generational Identifier


Sueko Matsueda Kimura (1912–2001) was a Japanese American Nisei artist and teacher based in Honolulu, Hawai'i.

Kimura was born in Pāpa'ikou on Hawai'i Island on June 10, 1912, the only girl in a family of six children. [1] Her parents, who had immigrated from Fukushima, soon moved to Maui. When she was eight years old, she accompanied her mother and brother to Japan where they resided for a year. In Japan, Kimura developed her love of art as it was part of her school curriculum. When she returned to Maui, Kimura knew that she wanted to be an artist. Thus, after graduating from high school, Kimura left Maui for O'ahu to attend the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa but soon thereafter, her parents sent her brothers to bring her back home. Kimura would later return to the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa where she met Keichi Kimura, another student, who would also become a famous artist.

In 1936, Kimura graduated with a Bachelor's degree in art. She attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles until 1939 while working at the Art Department of Bullock's department stores. She was employed for a year at Bowman, Duete, and Cummings Advertising Agency in San Francisco before returning to Hawai'i in 1941 to work as an art director for their Honolulu office. In 1942, the Kimuras married and immediately Keichi was sent to war with the 100th Infantry Battalion . Kimura gave birth to their daughter Juli in 1943 and worked as an art director for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin until Keichi returned in 1945. The Kimuras left Hawai'i in 1947 for Keichi to attend school at the Art Students League, Columbia University Art School, and Brooklyn Museum School of Fine Arts in New York. Three years later, they would return and would work as freelance artists until Sueko Kimura started teaching at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Department of Art. She would obtain a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) and taught until 1977 when she retired as an emeritus professor.

Career Highlights

Kimura was a lifelong learner and would regularly embark upon trips to Europe and India throughout her career, and traveled to other areas during a sabbatical leave from 1959 to 1960, leaving her daughter Juli in the care of her husband. From 1966 to 1967, she lived in Japan; she visited Europe in 1971 and Mexico in 1972. Her experiences abroad would influence her art. According to author Marcia Morse, "her notes on her travel experiences reveal a pervasive sense of wonderment and delight, and astute observations which also contributed to her working palette of emotions and ideas." [2] Eventually, the Kimuras divorced and while Keichi continued to produce personal art and commercial work, Sueko worked as an artist and teacher instructing students in painting, figure drawing, and two-and three-dimensional design. As a professor at the University of Hawai'i, Kimura produced a fresco in Bilger Hall, the chemistry building, along with other noted artists Jean Charlot and Juliette May Fraser. Throughout her art career, Kimura worked with different media—watercolor, gouache, printmaking, oil, mixed media, drawing—creating an eclectic body of work. Before she passed away in Honolulu on Christmas day in 2001, Kimura's work was part of Asian Traditions, Modern Expressions , a major exhibition organized by Rutgers University that toured throughout the United States, Japan, and Taiwan. Throughout her career, she participated in group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, IBM Gallery, San Francisco market, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, and San Diego Art Museum. She also had solo shows in Honolulu at the Contemporary Arts Center, George Hall Gallery, Gima's Art Gallery, and Church of the Crossroads. She won the Watamull Purchase Prize and various awards from the Honolulu Printmakers, Wichita Annual, and Rounce & Coffin Club. Her work is part of the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts (now Honolulu Museum of Art), the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and various private owners on the mainland and in the Islands.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura , University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Haar, Francis, and Prithwish Neogy. Artists of Hawaii, Vol. I: Nineteen Painters and Sculptors . Honolulu: The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the University Press of Hawaii, 1974.

Morse, Marcia. Inner World, Outer World: The Art of Keichi and Sueko Kimura . Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2001.


  1. University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Department of Art, A Tradition of Excellence (Honolulu: Department of Art, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 2002), 63.
  2. Marcia Morse, Inner World, Outer World: The Art of Keichi and Sueko Kimura (Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2001), 23.

Last updated March 7, 2017, 11:01 p.m..