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Meet Mayuko Ono Gray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mayuko Ono Gray.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Japan and came to the U.S. after high school. When I came here, my English was horrible! I initially set to study Travel and Tourism so when I go back, I can find a job in the tourism industry- but once I got married to an American and got permanent residency, I changed my major to my real passion, art.

I always loved art since childhood, and if I stayed in Japan, I would have gone to an art college. The true moment I decided to study art (which I avoided by fear of no employment, therefore majored in graphic design for a while) came at my grandfather’s funeral. I saw his body in the casket, and I bowed to myself that I did not want to live a life to regret when I am in my casket.

In February of 2007, a few months before my MFA thesis show, I got very ill and spent ten days in ICU. I was dying, and my husband and daughter were counseled by the hospital personnel who prepare the family member of those who are dying. Somehow I recovered to my doctors’ surprise and amazement. Right after the incident, I had the strong feeling and wanting to draw. My major was painting and painted the whole BFA and MFA career, but my true and hidden passion was in drawing. My thesis show works consisted of only graphite drawings which I created in the short time after a hospital stay.

Since then I am pushing my true passion of drawing, especially in graphite. After the near-death experience, I really appreciate each day of extension of life I got, and I care less what others’ think. I am so much more selfish and don’t give a damn what people say. I want to continue to make art that I want to make, and not what sells or what is popular or what is accepted as good art by others. I want to continue to make art that is true to my heart and soul.

Please tell us about your art.
My works are graphite drawings on paper. I use photographic references either found image from internet search or photographs I take. I combined these with a Japanese proverb written out and these lines connected into one strand.
I hope the viewers of my work will take a time to contemplate the meaning of the proverb, and content of the image- as well as the pure lines and values created by graphite. I hope my works serve as a meditative tool.

At the same time, I try to include some funny aspects into them to keep them lighthearted 🙂

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
It is normal to have a day job to pay bills. The ideal job will have the summer off like teachers or college staff. Once I did not have to work and got to stay home to just make art- but it drove me crazy, feeling like separated from the world, and artwork production did not go well. I think that having a day job gives you the opportunity to talk to others not limited to art people, and actually have experiences in life (good and bad and everything between) which you may want to reflect into your artworks.

Also, having a day job also fuels you to want to make it in the art world so one day you no longer have to work.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My website is always up and I usually upload any new works as soon as I catalog it.

If anyone wants to see my works in person, they are available at the Hooks-Epstein Galleries at 2631 Colquitt St. Houston TX 77098. Phone (713) 522-0718.

How people can support my work? Please purchase and put in their collections 🙂

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Myself and My husband, Mark Greenwalt

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