Karin Higa, longtime L.A. art curator, dies at 47


Karin Higa, a specialist in Asian American art who worked for nearly a decade and a half as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, has died at 47.

Higa died on Tuesday at her home in L.A. following a battle with cancer, said Russell Ferguson, her husband.

Ferguson, who is a professor in the art department at UCLA, said that his wife had been diagnosed with cancer in February.


Higa worked as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum from 1992 to 2006, rising to the rank of senior curator of art. She had recently been named a curator for the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” Biennial for 2014 but was forced to step down due to her illness.

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During her tenure at the Japanese American National Museum, Higa helped to organize many notable exhibitions, including a 1992 show of art made at internment camps during World War II and a 2008 show devoted to the art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement.

She was a curator of the touring exhibition “One Way or Another,” spotlighting contemporary Asian American art, which ran at the Asia Society in New York in 2006.

Higa was a L.A. native who spent most of her career in Southern California. She graduated from Columbia University in New York and received a master’s degree in art history from UCLA.

Ferguson said that she was currently enrolled in the doctoral art history program at USC but had not completed the program.


In addition to her husband, Higa’s survivors include her mother and a brother.

[For the Record, 2:01 p.m. Oct. 30: An earlier version of this article incorrectly credited the Hammer Museum for the photograph of Karin Higa. It was taken by Sharon Lockhart.]


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