Mayumi Oda – The Glory of Goddesses
By Charlotte Kellogg
October 16, 2012
“Becoming an artist was never a decision for me. I had loved to draw since I was very small and simply never stopped.” -Mayumi Oda
Sometimes referred to as “The Mattisse of Japan”, Mayumi Oda was born in the middle of WWII, in which her situation allowed for a wide range of creativity. While her parents searched for food, Mayumi spent her free time making boats from bamboo leaves and garlands from pink and white clovers. Her first encounter with the goddess that would later inspire her work, was with the Sun Goddess, to whom she asked for help when her family took her to the local Shinto shrine to be blessed at the age of seven.
Many years later during her time at the Tokyo University of Fine Art, Mayumi learned fabric dying, design skills, and met her husband. She grew to love the freedom and flexibility within Japanese design that she found in classic ceramics, Noh costumes, kimonos, and lacquer wear.
At the onset of the women’s liberation movement in the late sixties, Mayumi found herself struggling to express herself as strong through her art. Now the proud mother of two sons, Zachary and Jeremiah, she found her strength in creating goddesses, reminiscent of the one she encountered in the Shinto shrine as a child. Utilizing these goddesses as projections of herself, she created each one as a way to express each stage of her life. Utilizing the traditional and vibrant brocade of traditional kimonos, Mayumi created these goddesses to rediscover Japanese traditional design, giving the designs new life.
“I made goddesses to explore Japanese traditional design, which is so free, extravagant and sometimes even wild.”
Mayumi’s technique is a beautiful infusion of classic and modern silk screening techniques. She begins by drawing an image on stretched silk screen with oil-base ink or crayon, applying water-soluble hide glue, and then washing out the ink with paint thinner to create a filter for the ink. Drawing upon the classic effect of woodblock prints, Mayumi uses Japanese mulberry paper, giving a more classic earthy feel to her finished product.
To this day, Mayumi has presented over 40 one-woman shows, and has displayed her art collections in The Museum of Modern Art(New York), The Museum of Fine Arts(Boston), Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati), Honolulu Academy of Arts (Honolulu), The Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) and countless other esteemed galleries. She is a ‘global activist’ and active teacher at her retreat center, Ginger Hill in Hawaii.
Currently, Mayumi is featuring a collection at the Honolulu Museum of Art entitled: “A Prayer For The New Birth of Japan” and is a rediscovery of the traditional Yamato-e or “Japanese painting” technique found in Buddhist art.