November 4, 2022 6:00pm

Sarasvati's Gift: The Art & Life of a Modern Buddhist Revolutionary by Mayumi Oda | Opening Reception

Mayumi Oda | Robert A.F. Thurman




Friday, November 4, 2022
6–8pm ET
In-person at Tibet House US

Join us for the opening reception of Sarasvati’s Gift: The Art & Life of a Modern Buddhist Revolutionary, an exhibition of work by renowned artist Mayumi Oda on view at Tibet House US Gallery through February 10, 2023. She will be joined by special guest Robert A.F. Thurman, President of Tibet House.

Known as the “Matisse of Japan,” Mayumi Oda is a painter, environmental activist, and Buddhist practitioner whose life reflects both the brilliance and shadows of modernity. Sarasvati’s Gift explores her tremendous artistic talent and inspiration drawn from her Buddhist practice and her commitment to healing the planet.

Sarasvati’s Gift, Mayumi Oda’s great gift—how wonderful to receive it in this beautiful, heartfelt, honest book. Sarasvati, the goddess of art, the Lady of the River of Beauty, is the cleansing divine flow of the waters of truth and beauty, and she emanates to heal and cleanse our stressed-out lives on our stricken planet through the undaunted art and golden heart of Mayumi Oda.”
— Robert A.F. Thurman

Signed copies of Sarasvati’s Gift: The Autobiography of Mayumi Oda—Artist, Activist, and Modern Buddhist Revolutionary (Shambhala, 2020) will be available at the event.

“Sarasvati has been my guardian goddess since childhood. All my life, I’ve called on Sarasvati for guidance, protection, and inspiration. She is the Hindu goddess of music, art, and wisdom, and she’s mentioned in the Rig Veda around 1500 B.C.E. One morning in the early 1990s, as I sat in meditation in front of the statue of Goddess Sarasvati at my home north of San Francisco, I heard her say in a loud voice, ‘Stop the plutonium shipment!’ I was stunned. I took a breath and said, ‘I can’t do that. I’m only an artist,’ and she answered, ‘Help will be provided.’

This book is dedicated to all women warriors and to my godchildren, Tajha Sophia Chappellet Lanier and Angus Galen McCleary, both born in October 1992—when I became fully engaged in creating a path toward peace, justice, and compassion.”
— Mayumi Oda

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Teacher Bios

Mayumi Oda

Mayumi Oda’s storied life as an artist began as a small child as her mother sought to bring a joyful creativity early in her daughter’s world. That nurturing instilled a desire to make her mother happy and so, becoming an artist was born of mutual love and an innate knowing rather than a conscious decision. Drawing for twelve hours each day for three years in school formed a discipline while honing Mayumi’s eyes, hands, and mind to draw anything that she wanted. As a Zen Buddhist, Mayumi’s father also imbued the importance of concentration and being present – things she embraced even more as an adult practicing Zazen meditation. This was the preparation for a prolific and evolving artistic journey for the next four decades.

Intensely spiritual, sensitive and yet, exceptionally strong-willed for a Japanese woman, Mayumi has always painted authentically, from the heart, never for commercial appeal. As a young woman and emerging artist, Mayumi was highly inspired by female beauty.  Painting Goddesses contributed to an inward self-awareness while presenting an outward, positive expression of feminism. At different periods as a woman, wife, and mother, painting served as an escape, awakening, or expression when life presented challenges and opportunities.  As her art received greater attention, travel and exposure to more people and influences ensued well into the 1980’s leading to diverse subjects, styles, and collections comprising several hundred paintings. She would come to be known as the “Matisse of Japan”.

From 1969 to the present, Mayumi has presented more than 50 solo shows internationally and has numerous private and permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the U.S. Library of Congress and more. By the age of 50, Mayumi had reached unparalleled artistic success for a Japanese woman of her time.


Robert A.F. Thurman

Robert Thurman is the President and Founder of Tibet House US. Known in the academic circles as Professor Robert A.F. Thurman, he is a talented popularizer of the Buddha’s teachings and the first Westerner Tibetan Buddhist monk ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A charismatic speaker and author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, Bob was named by The New York Times the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism, and was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 2020, for his help in recovering India’s ancient Buddhist heritage. Time Magazine chose him as one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997, describing him as a “larger than life scholar-activist destined to convey the Dharma, the precious teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, from Asia to America.”