Ancestry and the circle of life told through art

Jonathan Garcia

Japanese artist Mayumi Amada visited Del Mar to discuss her work and how it explores themes such as repeated generations, ancestry and a circle of life.

Born in a small rural town in Japan, Amada learned to use her grandmother’s sewing machine at a young age and loved making things with her hands. Amada talked about her use of doilies, an ornamental mat that is usually made of paper or lace with a unique pattern design. She often uses doilies to explore themes.

“Doily has a lot of meaning for me because I’m using a theme like repeated generations, passage of time, the circle of life, mortality and vitality,” Amada said.

She uses these doilies in many different settings and also uses materials such as flower and water, which add an important element to her work. She also shared details about one particular technique.

“Doily is made flat for me, so I use one spotlight and make a shadow on the floor,” Amada said. “(The) shadow is like our ancestor, and the circle is the life cycle,” Amada said

Amada, whose April 11 “Shadows Through Circles” lecture was part of the college’s Cultural Programs Series, said each piece she has done with doilies has a unique story behind it. Her design “Doily of Foremothers” features 100 skulls with a rose underneath.

“If I say one generation is 20 years, this doily can go back more than 2,000 years of my ancestors,” Amada said. “I give a rose to each ancestor to express my gratitude and also my respect.”

The lecture concluded with Amada talking about working with sheet metal, including making a dress out of sheet metal that she wore. She then showed two videos — one of a doily of making a flower-shaped pattern on a counter and another of her doily floating in smooth flowing water.

Jonathan Garcia

Jonathan Garcia is the Entertainment editor for the Del Mar College Foghorn. He has been with the Foghorn since 2012 as one of the paper’s entertainment writers. He is currently a journalism major but after receiving his degree, Jonathan hopes to become a critic for movies and video games due to his incredible passion for both. You can reach Jonathan at or follow him on Twitter @jonathan10894.

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