Mayumi Oda (b. 1941)
Green Gulch Kannon
Known to many as “the Matisse of Japan,” Mayumi Oda’s internationally recognized artwork plays with traditional Japanese and Buddhist images, refiguring them as celebrations of the feminine and the natural world. Where most Buddhist iconography features male figures, Oda introduces female “Goddesses” that seem to jump off the page, imbued with the vibrancy of her color and line.
Kannon is the Bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) of Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism. Kannon, or Kanzeon, means he/she who sees and hears the cries of all suffering beings in the world. Kannon is often depicted in art with a vase, which she uses to sprinkle the nectar of life on all beings. Here Mayumi Oda portrays Kannon watering cabbage, her favorite Green Gulch Farm vegetable.
In its original conception, Kannon was male. In China, Kannon, also know as Guan Yin, became a beauteous female, perhaps because the male-dominated Confucian tradition does not readily express the tenderness of compassion. She gained a foothold in the hearts of the common people, peasants, and fishermen. Considered the goddess of mercy, Kannon is called upon to help people in distress and is probably the most venerated of Buddhist divinities in Japan.
Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1941, Mayumi Oda survived WWII, and moved to the east coast of the United States in the late 1960s before landing in Muir Beach, California in the 1970s. There, she settled and began painting and practicing at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, which Oda calls her “California Buddha field.” During her days living at Muir Beach she created many of her most iconic Goddess screen prints inspired by the abundance and wonder of nature that thrives in the magical gardens of the now-famous farm. In 2000 she founded Ginger Hill Farm, a farm and retreat center on the Big Island of Hawaii, where she currently lives with her family.