I am a countryside auntie who has no idea how to speak English, but gave a Sumi-e performance at the big stage in Times Square, and exhibited sumi-e works in Chelsea, NY. by okko

Mission

“Create a place for fun learning”

Vision

“Places for learning around the world are full of smiles”

Policy

“Learn by yourself, apply, and execute”

 

I am a countryside auntie who has no idea how to speak English, but gave a Sumi-e performance at the big stage in Times Square, and exhibited sumi-e works in Chelsea, NY.

To this day, I am surprised at my courage when I exclaimed “I will do it!” 

 

【Acting before thinking】

I overcame past hardships because of various experiences and the false confidence that I can do anything. 

There is a phrase that I like: “There’s nothing we can’t do if we try, but there’s no way we can do it if we don’t try.” I tried harder knowing that my current situations and problems were “thrown at me because I can overcome it.” Doing so, strangely turned my problems into past experiences. 

 

【A difficult childhood】

“Why are you different from other children?”

I did not like group activities or staying still, I constantly zoned out and could not concentrate on conversations, and I could not calm down unless I was drawing or doing other things. 

My mother was worried about me, especially because I could not answer 1+1=2.

I was left behind, as everyone around me progressed on their mathematical skills.

“What do you not understand?” I did not know what I did not understand. 

My understanding speed and everyone else’s was different. I was unable to keep up with the learning speed so I was labeled as the potential “dropout.”

These adult words, that seem to make something happen, felt far away and hard to understand, like the waves in an ocean. 

I lived a difficult student life, worrying about the adult’s point of view. 

 

【My dream was lunch and a nap】

Married at 21, had an abortion at 22, gave birth to a daughter at 25, gave birth to a son at 28, became a single mother at 30, my roller coaster life had no time for drawing, as I balanced work, housework, and raising children on a daily basis.

One day, I attended a lecture on child-rearing and was asked the question “What is your dream?”

“I want to own my own store.” “I want to visit Italy.” “I want to build a new home.” As the question was being answered, I said, “I want to eat lunch at a restaurant and take a nice nap after that.” I was taken aback by my answer. 

This was what I meant by a dream. 

I was overwhelmed everyday, had no time to go at my pace, and was constantly in a nervous state of thinking that I was being watched by someone. 

“A mother should be like this.” I was constantly making sure that I was being my ‘ideal’ self. 

I felt bad for putting myself through this.

As my children became a little older, I started achieving smaller dreams. 

“I worked hard today, so I’ll go out for lunch!”

“Today is Sunday, so I’ll take a nap rather than clean up!”

“I’ve received extra income, so I’ll buy a cake before I go home!”

Gradually, my dreams became more and more harder to achieve, and it ultimately led me to dream about taking my artwork overseas.

 

 I started doing sumi-e performances because my drawings brought smiles and inspiration to someone, and if I showed the process of my works, I thought that those people would enjoy it. 

Just thinking about all the smiles I create with my artwork, made me excited. 

【The Times Square NY dream and its big stage】

 In July 2015, I wanted the people of NY to see my sumi-e performance and for me to see their reaction, so through crowdfunding, I gathered enough funds to travel to NY. My first time in NY! I set up in Central Park and Bryant Park and called out,  “I will draw your name in kanji.” Some people were happy and some were skeptical as they let me draw their names. It was a fun and refreshing way to get a firsthand experience of foreign reactions. 

In May 2017, for my second trip to NY, I performed a sumi-e performance at Times Square. 

It was very strange to think that I was performing at a place I see often on TV. The huge crowd watched me, but as soon as the performance started, all sounds disappeared and I entered my own world. I moved my paint brush like a vague dream. When I suddenly stopped and heard the claps, I knew the piece was finished. 

In July 2019, I exhibited and performed at Chelsea, NY.

 It was my first exhibition abroad, and I was also given the opportunity to do a performance. The JCAT members’ detailed advice pushed me into striving for the best. 


【Say what you want to do and act upon it】

 From those who cannot acknowledge their true selves and cannot say “I want to do it!”, to those who are too conscious of others’ opinions, I consider the world right now as a hard place to live because everyone is judging each other. 

I believe that my drawings make me and everyone happier and so I want to continue speaking loudly and do what I love. 

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