Sumi-e Artist Koho Yamamoto, New York City’s Treasure

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"I believe that one has to be strong and bold, and unafraid to make mistakes."
Koho Yamamoto

Anyone familiar with the local history of sumi-e in New York City knows about artist Koho Yamamoto. At 95 years young, she has taught hundreds of students Japanese ink painting over the years. Her work, which ranges from expressionistic landscapes to abstractions in black and white, has been recognized by many, including Mother Teresa, Isamu Noguchi, and the Smithsonian Institution.

I am a student of Koho, and call her Sensei.

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"I was initiated into the sumi-e art form at Topaz Internment camp in Utah by the renowned artist Chiura Obata. My experience during WWII and my life in internment taught me to have courage during uncertain times."
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It was during her time in the Japanese internment camp that Koho Yamamoto developed her love for art. She devoted herself to her art under the guidance of her teacher, Chiura Obata, the renowned painter and educator who founded the art schools in the camps.

“My paintings come from nothingness.”

The current Soho exhibition, "The Handshake," showcases her life's masterpieces and the genius of Koho Yamamoto. Her abstractions captivate the viewer with energetic brushstrokes full of life. This impressive collection of ink paintings leaves the viewer in awe of her artistic vision and sheer talent.  In "Bamboo2", the bamboo stalk is masterfully rendered in a single brush stroke!

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Much more than my sensei, I consider Koho a living legend. Every class is an enriching and joyful experience. She is my inspiration! Don't miss her exhibit, on view until November 15 at Cubico in Soho, NYC. RSVP:

Read more about her at KohoArt


Nicoletta is a lifelong artist and art educator, with an M.A. in Art Education and Administration. She travels the world seeking cultural inspiration for her art, and has worked in fibers, acrylics, oils, and sculpture. She currently teaches elementary art education, adult oil painting and sumi-eclasses in New Jersey.  She is also known for her unique jewelry, inspired by the reinvention of the mundane zipper, featured throughout the NY/NJ area as Artologie Zipper Jewelry.