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Tama Takahashi (She/Her)

I’m proud to be an LGBTQ+ ally and for my artwork “Cis/Trans” to be included in the Sedona Arts Center’s Big Gay Art Show.

This artwork is a tribute to a burly grip I worked with years ago in the movie business in LA whose dream was to be a geisha. I’ve lost track of him, but hope she has realized her dream.

I grew up being half-Japanese, half-white in a small Rocky Mountain town that was almost all white. The only other mixed race person I knew of was my sister. There was racism; I was called names, one time had rocks thrown at me. My bad experiences are just a fraction of what some LGBTQ+ people experience, but they created empathy in me for others who are unjustly treated. If you are discouraged or harassed, please know that there are many straight, cis-gendered people like myself who are in your corner, who support you, who believe in you!

I graduated from UC San Diego with a double major in art and cinema, then worked 15+ years as a camera assistant in films and TV. The 60-100 hour weeks finally drove me to look for something saner. I was the Food Editor for a national magazine and edited 3 cookbooks before the pandemic. During the pandemic, I returned to painting and collage and last year was accepted into the Los Angeles Art Association and established my art studio in Santa Barbara.

I had fear around being a mature adult entering the art world; part of me felt like I was an outsider that wouldn’t be let in. But since establishing my studio last year, I’ve been in two international shows, including one curated by Julienne Johnson at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum where one of my artworks won an Award of Excellence and the other received the top prize, the Golden Award. In September of this year, I was granted a prestigious California Arts Council and SVCREATES Emerging Artist Fellowship.

Subjects I explore include my Japanese-American experience, portraits, climate change and human rights. I like creating vividly colored and richly textured paintings using oils, watercolor, gouache and/or in collage with washi paper. My media also include ceramics and photography. I am influenced by traditional Japanese design elements and techniques while developing my own, contemporary style. You can see my work at: www.tamatakahashi.com or follow me on Instagram: @tama_art_2

So, if anyone reading this is facing their own fears, I encourage you to hold fast to your dreams. Believe in yourself and celebrate Pride!