"Through my creative process, I have been creating myself. Goddesses are a projection of myself and who I want to be. Each picture represents a stage of my development, the influences I was feeling, and events that were going on around me."
Her storied life as an artist began as a small child as Mayumi's mother sought to bring a joyful creativity early in her daughter's world. That nurturing instilled a desire to make her mother happy and so, becoming an artist was born of mutual love and an innate knowing rather than a conscious decision. Drawing for twelve hours each day for three years in school formed a discipline while honing Mayumi's eyes, hands, and mind to draw anything that she wanted. As a Zen Buddhist, Mayumi’s father also imbued the importance of concentration and being present – things she embraced even more as an adult practicing Zazen meditation. This was the preparation for a prolific and evolving artistic journey for the next four decades.
Intensely spiritual, sensitive and yet, exceptionally strong-willed for a Japanese woman, Mayumi has always painted authentically, from the heart, never for commercial appeal. As a young woman and emerging artist, Mayumi was highly inspired by female beauty. Painting Goddesses contributed to an inward self-awareness while presenting an outward, positive expression of feminism. At different periods as a woman, wife, and mother, painting served as an escape, awakening, or expression when life presented challenges and opportunities. As her art received greater attention, travel and exposure to more people and influences ensued well into the 1980’s leading to diverse subjects, styles, and collections comprising several hundred paintings. She would come to be known as the “Matisse of Japan”.
From 1969 to the present, Mayumi has presented more than 50 solo shows internationally and has numerous private and permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the U.S. Library of Congress and more. By the age of 50, Mayumi had reached unparalleled artistic success for a Japanese woman of her time.
"Sarasvati’s Gift is a memoir, wildly colorful artist’s retrospective, dharma teaching, ode to the divine feminine, and manifesto to a peaceful future composed by impassioned global activist and artist recognized as Japan’s Matisse, Mayumi Oda."
While meditating in front of a Nepalese Sarasvati statue on New Year's Day in 1991 at her California home, Mayumi received a calling that brought a sudden halt to painting. Having witnessed the horrors of atomic bombings as a child and later, watching her beloved Japan become a leader in nuclear-energy, and seeing the effects of depleted uranium, Mayumi had to pursue a global cause greater than her art or feminism. For the next 10 years, Mayumi put her focus and energy toward stopping the unfolding of a plutonium world.
In 1992, Mayumi co-founded Inochi.us (Life Force) under which she established the Plutonium Free Future chartered to educate Japan's nuclear policy makers. Through the years that followed, she embarked on a mission that went as far as speaking to the United Nations World Court of Justice in the Hague. Mayumi received recognition for her commitment to a nuclear-free world over the past 25 years at the 2016 Bioneers Conference in Berkeley, CA.
By 2000, Mayumi's lifelong concern for the earth and her view of it as a source of healing and nourishment moved her to begin cultivating a five-acre parcel on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Since then, Ginger Hill Farm has served as her home, a retreat, a place for educating others about organic and sustainable farming, and where she shares that which makes Hawai'i a wonderful place to live.
Goddesses | Expressions of Female Beauty
Mayumi on painting Green Tara Thangka for Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling "Immutable Island of Melodious Sound" Wood Valley Temple in Ka'u, Hawai'i Island
Praise for Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty | Maria Shriver
1966 Graduated Tokyo University of Fine Arts
1966-68 Studied Pratt Graphic Center, New York
Political and Environmental Activism
1992 - Founded the PLUTONIUM FREE FUTURE organization in Berkeley, California and Tokyo, Japan to work to publicize the nuclear program in Japan, and stop the shipment of plutonium from France to Japan.
1993 - Co-founded RAINBOW SERPENT INTERNATIONAL in Berkeley, California.
1994-95 - As founder of PLUTONIUM FREE FUTURE, lectured and held workshops on Nuclear Patriarchy to Solar Communities at the United Nations NGO Forum and the Women of Vision Conference in Washington DC.
1996 - Art and Creativity in Personal and Planetary Healing Conference, Presenter
1999 - Launched the campaign WASH (World Atomic Safety Holiday)
2001 - Launched the South Kona Hema Project
2002 - Helped to found the Honaunau Cultural Youth Center
2007 - Raising awareness throughout Hawaiian islands and beyond about military use of DU and its effects on the human body