Mary Jo Matsumoto is an American artist of Japanese heritage based in California. Her paintings, drawings, and sculptures embody her experiences as a mixed-race woman living in the USA. Underlying Matsumoto's work is a deep interest in family history and cultural identity, in uncovering secrets and examining things that go unsaid.
Matsumoto grew up in the 1970s with the dark shadow of recent American history ever-present but unspoken of in her family. In a continuing effort to assimilate after WWII, Matsumoto’s childhood was almost devoid of any references to her Japanese roots. Aside from a book of illustrated fairy tales influenced by Ukiyo-e prints that she read as a child, her knowledge of Japan has come via the distorted prism of American consumer culture: bright and impersonal pop art baubles, fashion tee shirts and kawaii toys.
Matsumoto’s style demonstrates the cultural confluence of her personal history in its combination of influences from historical Western landscape art, Japanese superflat art and American pop culture. Her fascination with archetypes, mythology, and folktales such as the Fox and the Bunny speak to the essential histories and traditions that are lost and the blank spaces created in this in-between identity. Matsumoto's work expresses this uncertainty, but is also hopeful in its celebration of the exciting, confident youthfulness of Japanese American culture today. In this way her work connects the past and present to explore the complexity of social histories and contemporary identities.
2018-2020 Art Students League of New York
2017-2018 Angel Academy of Art, Florence, Italy
2015 Art Students League NYC
New York University, MFA Tisch School of the Arts
University of California Berkeley, Double BA with highest honors.
2019 Red Dot Winner (Best in Show), Art Students League of New York, Group Bronze Show
2015 Blue Dot Winner, Art Students League of New York, Group Bronze Show
2022 The de Young Museum in San Francisco, Pictures of People group show in celebration of Alice Neel, People Come First exhibition.
2022 California Inclined: Robert Graham, Larry Cohen, Don Bachardy, Mary Jo Matsumoto, Holly Williams at DANIEL MOSHI gallery, Los Angeles, California
2022 PANDEMIC at Sol Art Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.
2021 Arts to Hearts Project, Gaze, International Exhibition with 30 Women Artists
2019 Art Students League of New York, Group Bronze Show
2015 Art Students League of New York, Group Bronze Show
2015 Art Students League of New York, Group Drawing Show.
2014 Luhring Augustine, NYC, Visual Aids Post Cards From the Edge, “Woman in an Alexander McQueen Scarf”.
Arts to Hearts Project GAZE exhibition catalogue