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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Student conveys cultural values

    Art student Yumiko Omata painted Surrender as a reaction to the aftermath of 9/11.
    Art student Yumiko Omata painted ‘Surrender’ as a reaction to the aftermath of 9/11.

    At a time when most art students can be found cruising their bikes down Fourth Avenue, smoking a cigarette outside a coffee shop or watching a local hipster band, Yumiko Omata is locked away in the studio creating a masterpiece.

    Omata works late hours alone several nights a week, pouring her international experiences with culture, the subconscious and the spirit onto the canvas.

    “”After transplanting myself to the U.S., I became aware of cultural values and their erosion,”” Omata said via an e-mail interview. Because Japanese is her first language, she’s more confident writing English than speaking it. “”My country has carried long traditions and established unique culture and beauty.””

    Many of Omata’s paintings contain surreal and abstract elements mixed in with traditional portraiture. In “”Epoch III,”” three Asian children, misery in their faces, walk along a curving path of glowing rectangles. In the triptych “”Forager,”” a person attempts to stuff herself inside a kangaroo’s pouch. The background is a simplistic and desolate paleness, with blurry kangaroos floating out of the nothingness.

    While many of her paintings couch themselves in the bizarre, some are more personal. Her piece “”Surrender,”” featured in the BFA exhibition, shows a little girl holding a white flag in one hand and a leash for a donkey in the other.

    The scene is Syracuse, N.Y., where Omata lived a few months after 9/11. She described the town as “”depressing,”” and a place where she was too afraid to speak her mind. The donkey symbolizes her husband, a liberal, who wouldn’t have fit in amongst the ultra-patriotic reverie. The white flag shows her surrender; what she had to do in an environment not suited for her personality.

    “”I blend logic and absurdity of life as an escape from reality and to show my experiences in two different cultures,”” Omata said. “”I like to create paintings which have room for my audience to think and wonder.””

    And after five semesters at the UA and a number of years at Pima and even art school in Tokyo, it seems it’s finally paying off.

    Omata’s solo exhibition “”Surrender,”” in the Lionel Rombach gallery, just ended on Nov. 9 to make room for the Bachelor of Fine Arts show, which she is featured in. Omata’s paintings have also been exhibited in the Arizona Biennial, a competitive statewide exhibition that features professors as well as established artists.

    After graduating, Omata plans to get a master’s degree in art, and will continue to create art in Tucson until she gets accepted to the program of her choice. For someone who’s only been painting for three years, she’s got quite an accomplished resume to send out.

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