Vol. 3 MAYUMI LAKE, May 23, 2020

Take a behind-the-scenes look at visionary “blossom” photo-sculpture by MAYUMI LAKE in her Chicago studio.

Sheltering-in-place and fearing an uncertain future, Mayumi talks about her inspiration -- the Asian myth of bold and bright flowers that bloom in the afterlife. In this UNISON project, everything from small collage to large-scale installation is made by hand. Mayumi intently extracts new life from used Japanese kimono fabrics and combines them with materials that remind her of Western culture during her girlhood. Sound by Gabriel Stutz.

MAYUMI LAKE (born in Osaka, Japan)

In spring 2011, Mayumi was psychologically overwhelmed by the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant meltdowns) that hit her homeland Japan. As a healing process, she created her photo series Latent Heat featuring dark landscapes and alienated human figures to express ominous feelings of tragic endings and near death experiences.

Latent Heat (Layered Solitude #1537), 2014, archival pigment print, 27 x 36 in. (69 x 91 cm) © Mayumi Lake

In 2017, Mayumi’s practice dramatically shifted to creating photo-based floral sculpture, inspired by the auspicious "housouge" flower motifs found in Japanese kimonos worn by young girls. Her research tracked its origin to ancient Japan/China where people filled sacred sites with colorful and immersive flowers to calm their fears and despair.

Unison (Orgel-Merry), 2017, pigment print, imitation gold leaf, plastic, wire, and wood, 43 x 33 in. (109.2 x 82.8 cm) © Mayumi Lake

In the UNISON series, Mayumi promotes a strong personal vision, converging Eastern and Western elements. Mayumi says, “Elements of the two opposing cultures are intertwined creating a strained and unique harmony that is illuminated through the constructed blossoms.”

Unison, Chicago Artists Collation Bolt Residency Solo Exhibition, 2017, pigment print, imitation gold leaf, synthetic fur, synthetic hair, fabric, beads, sequin,wire, wood, mirror ball, motor, LED light, color effect gel, black aluminium foil, US Baudio player and speakers.

Mayumi Lake studied photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Since 1997, Her work has been exhibited at national and international venues including MIT List Visual Arts Center, Institute of Contemporary Art (London), Fotografie Forum International (Frankfurt), Art In General, Asia Society, and the Museum of Sex (New York). Her work is in the permanent collections at various institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Asia Society, and Facebook Chicago Office (commission). Originally from Osaka, Japan, Mayumi is living in Chicago with her partner and musician Gabriel Stutz and two furry friends. Lloyd and Jeff.

For more artworks by Mayumi, please check out