Spotlight on Philanthropist and Artist Yuko Nii

Yuko Nii Profile Photo
Yuko Nii, female artist and philanthropist, at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center. Photo by Kristy May, via Wikipedia.
Yuko Nii, artist and philanthropist, at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center. Photo by Kristy May, via Wikipedia.

Are you familiar with the female artist Yuko Nii? If not, let me explain more about her and the creative pieces she creates.

Who is Yuko Nii?

Yuko Nii is a Japanese artist whose works range from paintings to graphic design, costume design, and printmaking. Born in 1942, she grew up in Tokyo and later relocated as an adult to Minnesota, US, to continue her education. In 1965, she graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. From there she went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in painting from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.

She has many artistic creations in private and public collections in the US and Japan. Her work sits in museums, universities and art galleries. If you visit The Alternative Museum, The Cincinnati Art Museum, or the Berkshire Museum, look for her works to be on display. Her creations have been reviewed by The New York Times, The Geijutsu Shincho Art Magazine, The Berkshire Eagle, and countless other local, national, and international publications. As well, she has been interviewed in Japan and the US many times.

Below is a retrospective video that shows many of Yuko Nii’s art pieces and writing. Yes, she has written many notable essays, including A Trip to Bell House, in addition to her artistic creations. Multi talented? Indeed.

Yuko Nii Stone and Dune

Philanthropy and Yuko Nii

As well as being an exceptional artist, Yuko Nii is well known for her philanthropic efforts. Perhaps her most well-known philanthropic project began when she founded the famed Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH Center) in Brooklyn in 1996. The not-for-profit WAH Center is located within the historical Kings County Savings Bank building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The WAH Center is funded by the Yuko Nii Foundation that has a mission in part to “preserve art and artifacts in the permanent collection for future generations…” The Foundation serves to help ensure that artistic creations are preserved and shareable, hence encouraging creativity rather than stifling it. The WAH Center has been acclaimed for rejuvenating the art community of Williamsburg, drawing artists to it and maintaining the building that is an official New York historical landmark. The not-for-profit Center has features collections of artists from around the world who are both emerging and established in their careers. There are frequent art shows and events.

In 1998, just two years after founding the incredible art organization, Nii received the impressive Brooklyn’s Women of the Year award. This is not the only inspirational award she has received to date. She has been awarded the 2001 “New York State’s Women of the Year” for turning the historical Williamsburg bank building into an arts center. Those are only two of countless awards she has received.

Yuko Nii has also written several essays, which I plan to read and review in the future here. I look forward to continuing to follow this amazing artist’s career. She is an inspiration to women, showing all that we can do and accomplish in life!


© 2015 Christy Birmingham


  1. What a cool artist and wonderful person! In the video you include in your piece I especially like her dunes work. And it’s wonderful how she gives back through her foundation. A great write-up, Christy, thank you!

    • Hi G!! I’m glad you watched the video – it mesmerized me. That way you could see all sorts of works she created. Yes, her philanthropic efforts were what first caught my eye and then as I learned more about her I wanted to feature her here at the site. Thank you for making time here and hope you are doing well!

  2. The dunes work shown in the video was amazing! I will have to check out her work at the Cincinnati Art Museum the next time I can talk my husband into going with me (HA! – not his thing, and yet I raised three amazing sons who love the art museum), or maybe I just need to go myself.

    • If I was closer I would totally go with you! That’s wonderful you live close enough to a museum that carries her work. Envious me! Thanks for appreciating the post and Yuko’s spirit, Michelle xx

    • Hi Lauren, well it makes my heart happy to be able to see women improving the world – and that you like the way I share the profiles makes me even happier!! Thanks and I hope your day is going well, with hugs to you too xo

  3. Very creative work of art, stretching one’s imagination and beyond! Thank you for your interesting write up, Christy, and sharing all this with us. 🙂 An artist with a charitable spirit… how beautiful 🙂

    • Iris, yes! That’s what made me so sure she would be a great fit here was her philanthropic spirit. Thanks for appreciating it – I hope she continues to share her art with the world too! 🙂

  4. A great artist …. I would say that her art pieces looks very organic, as if they were naturally flowing with Nature… The best thing is that she is not self-centered but instead has her own Foundation which general aim is to help others…. That’s something remarkable… Thanks for bringing this artist into the spotlight, Christy… All my best wishes! , Aquileana 😀

    • Yes, I like your description as ‘organic,’ Aquileana. And yet there’s a modern touch, don’t you think? It’s great to see your support for her artwork in addition to her Foundation efforts – imagine starting a non-profit organization, quite the project. Thank you for your beautiful comment! 🙂

  5. Hi Christy,

    Thank you for sharing this fascinating post on Yuko Nii, highlighting both her artistic and philanthropic endeavors. She is truly an inspiration. Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.


    • Hi Linnea, So nice to see you and thank you for the comment of support for Yuko. It motivates me to read about these women and I love sharing about them here. I hope your Valentine’s weekend is going beautifully <3

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