WRITTEN BY admin
What’s your name, age, and preferred pronouns?
Ameya Okamoto, 20, she/her/hers
Where are you from?
How would you identify?
Japanese/Taiwanese-American, Artist, Organizer and Educator.
What got you into activism?
I am inspired to fight for justice, equity, safety and the right to thrive because of my mom. I was raised in a single-parent household by a woman who I saw break more glass ceilings than I can count and lead my sisters and I with empathy and openness – no matter how little we had or how much was going on at home. While I can point to a lot of experiences and inspiring individuals who helped orient my work towards activism, I believe it was my early upbringing that centered and instilled justice as my core value.
How do you think graphic and virtual art will be preserved years from now?
The evolution of the art world is exciting and I support an upheaval of the elite, androcentric culture that so often defines galleries, museums and art fairs. However, I also recognize the importance of museums and educational institutions like the Natural History Museum and MoMa and the impact they had on me in cultivating my own love for design, history and fine art. Social justice curators like Jasmine Wahi of Project for Empty Space who are disrupting the fine arts world with collaborative feminist art shows and radical public art projects inspire me.
You share a lot about your friends, what makes them so special to you?
I love storytelling and listening to other people’s stories. My friends are special to me because they remind me that everyone is a complex person with unlimited stories to inspire. I love making new friends and holding space with artists, talking and making art together until 4am. Also, growing up, my family moved around a lot and at one point I changed schools six times in six consecutive years! Because of this, my social circle and environment was constantly changing – and growing. My mom says that this is one of the reasons why I’m attached to people not places. I’m the most extreme extrovert lol.
How has it been being a young artist living in New York City? What have you learned that you’d wish to share with anyone making that move in their lives and careers?
Chosen family is everything and the support and love from the artist network that grew around me in NYC was what kept me humble and creating. I moved to the city right after high school in Portland, OR to teach middle school mathematics with City Year AmeriCorps in East New York. I learned so much about the real world – rent, budgeting, transportation, meal prep – and the random fact that TJ’s is the most affordable grocery store in NYC lol. I eventually began freelancing full-time, supporting myself mostly through art commissions and workshop honorariums. Living in NYC is f*cking hard and it’s easy to feel alone even though you’re constantly surrounded by people. If I have any advice for the leap into the city – it would be to always be bold, empathetic, and kind. New York City is competitive and overwhelming but as long as you keep good people and ~vibes~ around you, protect your energy, be open to making mistakes, share opportunities and TAKE UP SPACE – you’ll rock it.