Mayumi Lake

(b. 1966, resides Chicago, IL)

As a Japanese woman who has been culturally conditioned to contain rather than reveal, I am interested in uncovering my own identity by aggressively evoking emotional reactions from my viewers. —Mayumi Lake

Mayumi Lake’s MPP portfolio contains selections from three bodies of work, each demonstrating the power of fantasy to trump hard, cold reality. The earliest series, Poo-Chi (1999-2000), employs provocative titles and the draping of fabric to help make the folds of skin and hair of an adult armpit read as the genitals of a little girl. Conversely, Final Address (2002-2004) explores how the taboo is made palatable. This series on American funeral homes from the 1950s to the 1970s documents the over-stuffed chairs, floral arrangements, and colorful lighting designed and staged as if death were somehow luxuriously comfortable or an exotic tourist destination. In My Idol (2006), Lake returns to the theme of innocence complicated by sexuality as she revisits her poignantly simple childhood notions of an ideal life and perfect partner from the perspective of an adult experienced in the complexities (and disappointments) of actual relationships. 

Mayumi Lake was born in Osaka, Japan on April 11, 1966. She has studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and holds both a BFA (1997) and an MFA (2000) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the recipient of a 2001 Illinois Art Council Artist Fellowship Grant, and her monograph Poo-Chi was published by Nazraeli Press in 2002. Solo exhibitions of her work include My Idol at M.Y. Art Prospects, New York; Poo-Chi at Galerie Cornelius Pleser, Munich and M.Y. Art Prospects; and Plutonium, Homecoming, and Land-Out at Gallery O in Tokyo.