Kathy Fujii-Oka

Bob Hsiang, Photographer

From an early age I found inspiration and deep resonance in the offerings of nature. I was born in Berkeley as a third generation Japanese-American to parents who owned and operated a wholesale plant nursery in the East Bay Area. Growing up, I was inquisitive and enchanted with the surrounding palette of plants and beautiful flowers while touring the grounds with my father. This led to me learning the trade and working in the family business for twenty years.In addition to a passion for the botanical, I enjoyed a childhood pastime of painting. This passion faded through my adult years as I devoted my heart and time being a single mother to my beautiful young daughter. I began an exploration into a variety of artistic disciplines, finding what resonated best with my new soul journey.

As my art developed, I was invited to exhibit locally. Seeing my work well received gave me confidence to venture to the mecca of New York City where I gained the freedom to explore and spread my wings as a serious artist. My work was often shown at Atlantic Gallery, a co-operative in SoHo. While in New York, the tragedy of September 11th occurred and I was led back to the Bay Area to continue my work and education.

It was through the sobering events of 9/11 and my return to the Bay Area, which I discovered new threads appearing in my work. With fresh eyes I began seeing what it meant to be a Japanese-American woman, both historically and in the present 21st century. I was arriving at a deeper, more authentic place both personally and artistically.

In 2005, I proudly watched my daughter Brittany graduate from high school and embark on her journey as a young woman entering college. At that time I made a simultaneous leap into my advanced education upon being accepted and majoring in Studio Art Practice at UC Berkeley. During my studies I watched as my body of work evolved from the earlier abstracts of ocean and landscapes to forms infused with Japanese culture and spirituality. Subsequently, my art has expanded to include my passion for mixed media sculptures and large-scale installations that have become a birthplace of healing as the emotional voice of myself, and my ancestors find expression.

Now residing and working as a full time artist in San Francisco, I thrive on walks in nature and practicing the Japanese healing art of Reiki. I continue to create by combining my daily practice of meditation to make art and work that heals. Life has been a magical journey and I feel so fortunate to be embraced by the support of my family and community.