Arts & CultureFeature

Art for a Better Future: Mayumi Amada

Mayumi AmadaA Minneapolis-based artist who is interested in ancestry, the circularity of nature, and the environment, Mayumi Amada uses materials including synthetic rope, plastic tarps, light, and discarded goods to craft sculptures that speak to the role of art and beauty in the human life cycle.
What is the significance of recycled materials in your work?  In contemporary society, mass production and mass consumption are the ways to sustain capitalism. Because of that, an enormous amount of still-usable and useful materials are poured into landfills every day. It’s a waste of resources and those materials end up contaminating nature. I aim to spotlight the usefulness of materials that are thought of as waste. 
How did you discover your passion and talent for art?  It happened after I moved to the Twin Cities—I came here as an ESL student, coming from a small town in Japan, where I planned to go back at the end of the year after learning English. Once I got my English to a high enough level, one of my advisors encouraged me to take any academic classes I could to shore up my language skills, so I started branching out. I took one art class, because I loved art as a child but wasn’t able to explore making it myself in the rural town where I grew up, and I was hooked. It felt like a dam inside of me had toppled and my passion had been unleashed. Soon enough, I was studying to get a BFA at the University of Minnesota. 

I read that in your work I wish I were THE mushroom, you made mushroom figures by crocheting strips of plastic shopping bags from Cub and Target. How did you choose the bags you would use?  The color was important for this project—I wanted to select bags with the right tones to represent a mushroom–and I also wanted to use the bags you might see most often floating through the street or washed up on the shore of one of the lakes in this region, so I chose the biggest local companies’ bags. I thought using branded bags would help drive home that the large companies we often shop at are creating a huge number of plastic bags that end up in our environment. 
Where do you go in the Twin Cities when you’re looking for inspiration? I love antique shops, because they allow me to see people’s lives through old vintage stuff. I also appreciate the wisdom embedded in old handmade stuff, crafts that have in many cases been lost. Sometimes I stumble on solutions in these analog creations for the problems I encounter as I work.   
I have many crochet books and find myself inspired by the beautiful images and diagrams. I can study the diagrams for hours. The diagrams themselves are a form of art. 
Find out more about Amada’s art at 

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