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Meet Tamayo Muto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamayo Muto.

Tamayo, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I attended an English-learning program in UCSD in summer in 2017. During the stay, I explored San Diego and was amazed by how beautiful Mexican art is. I fell in love with its colorful festivals, dishes, and clothes. However, I was shocked to see those small children begging me in Tijuana, which made me more interested in Mexico. Right after coming back to Japan, a great earthquake attacked Mexico. I started up a fund-raising campaign during a 5-days-school festival of my Japanese university, collecting about $800 dollars thanks to friends’ help. I applied for several scholarships to come back to San Diego again and study art and Mexican culture, with an experience of the fund-raising. Thanks to Toshizo-Watanabe Scholarship, I could realize it and now improving my art. In addition to classes in SDSU, I paint every day on my own and spend holidays meeting great artists in San Diego, seeking chances to show artworks. As a result, I’ve participated in many art shows so far and exhibited works in a gallery in La Jolla and Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. I really appreciate how people in San Diego are open to emerging artists who are willing to show their works.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not always. In my Japanese university, it is common to study abroad by using an exchange program. However, I chose to apply to other scholarships because I didn’t agree with the way to select exchange students, rather wanted to make a new example of studying abroad and be evaluated by what I really made efforts. There haven’t been enough students who studied abroad with other scholarships at the time of sophomore, so I had to talk to university staff and professors many times in order to get permission.

And first of all, my parents didn’t want me to study abroad very much, and of course, the cost to study in the US is extremely high. That means for me getting some scholarship was mandatory, but it takes a lot of work and they are highly competitive. On the way to get Watanabe Scholarship, I failed other scholarships so it was hard to stay positive.

At the beginning of the stay in San Diego, I stayed at an apartment on campus but it was in a bad condition, so I was extremely stressed and escaped to a hotel for a week. Fortunately, I could encounter a great host family soon and I finally got an environment to concentrate on my art.

In recent years, I learned how important keeping an eye on my own way is. I’m not good at manipulating several things at the same time, so it is necessary to concentrate on what I really want to do. If you believe in what you think right and put it into action, there must be some people who understand and help you. I know that I don’t know a lot, so I do not spare effort to contact people and thank them.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I do painting, drawing, and photography. My original paintings are always on sale at Minnar Art Gallery in La Jolla and another online gallery. I participate in monthly art shows hosted by Hanalei Artworks, Optimus Volts, and Thumbprint Gallery, and many other art shows. my photos of Japanese traditional festivals are exhibited in Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park until 1/31. I also participate in markets such as Barrio Logan Flea Market, and sell works, prints, and write guests’ names in Japanese character and decorate it. I’m going to attend an exhibition at SDSU downtown gallery, a photo exhibition at La Bodega Gallery, and many other art shows in San Diego.

I make what I really want to make, without pressure by other people. Especially, I want to express ethnic minority’s feelings as a Japanese living in the U.S. People say my use of colors is unique, calling it “Happy Color.” I think it’s a mixture of my own taste and Mexican use of colors which fascinated me.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I cannot come up with any different way to arrive here. Even the former bad housing gave me a chance, as I happened to go to Spanish Village in Balboa Park and met a great artist there. Looking back to the past, for me, everything including bad ones seems to be connected and makes the path to the future. Therefore, even when a thing doesn’t go smoothly it is important to believe present efforts and continue doing it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Conception Arts, Anna Lynch

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