Born and raised in Fukuoka on Kyushu island in Japan - roughly
an hour by express train from Nagasaki - Yoko Umehara graduated from Kyushu University with a BA in English literature in
After a corporate stint with IBM, during which she first
turned towards dance and the ulterior joys of cheer-leading, Yoko quit and moved to New York City - ostensibly
to further her dance career. Trained in Japanese caligraphy at Shuken in Fukuoka when she was younger, it was perhaps
only natural that her attention turned instead to painting and the visual arts.
During a six-year hiatus in New York, Yoko studied at the
Art Students League and the National Academy of Design and, privately, under painters Andrew Conklin and Carlos Madrid. She showed extensively and was the recipient of numerous awards including
a 2002 work-study scholarship from The Art Students League, an Honorable Mention for her photographs in the Thumb box Exhibition
at the Salmagundi Club in 2001, the Jane Impasto Award at the Salmagundi, also in 2001, and the Edward G. McDowell Travel
Grant that same year. In 2000 Yoko was awarded a Merit Scholarship from The Art Students League, a Lacoste Traveling
Scholarship to France, and the Louis le Beaume Scholarship from the National Academy of Design.
True to her restless nature, Yoko turned her attention
to abstraction in late 2002 where, not missing a beat, she remains as comfortable and effective as in representation. She
also decided to return to her native Japan towards the end of 2003, and will have her first child this year.