Tamao Nakayama - Japanese Artist

Tamao Nakayama was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to the U.S. when she was 25 years old. She is still deeply influenced by the Japanese aesthetic, and the belief that ‘less is more’. She is a minimalist abstract artist. She paints and sculpts. She learned art at Santa Rosa College and Palomar College in California. She currently works from Woodbridge, VA. She had exhibited her painting in Hypotheses, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA.


As a girl growing up in Japan, I found it’s hard to be creative, as the culture was very strict about following rules. We all had to conform, and being different was a problem. I’ll never forget when, in school one day, my teacher painted my hair black because it’s natural color wasn’t acceptable. 

Thus at a young age I came to America to be creative, and stayed. Ironically I’ve found that what Americans like most about my art comes directly from my culture. The Japanese believe that “just because you want to communicate doesn’t mean you should say everything out loud”. And despite my flight from Japan, it is this sentiment which still informs my artistic style.  I try to communicate emotion using a minimum of lines and shapes. I say only that which must be said, and nothing more. Though I’ve run far from Japan, perhaps I am still just writing Haiku.

My signature sculptures are tubular ‘beings’, minimal figures that appear to express their own emotions. Some tell a story, some make people smile; all are playful and  emotionally engaging. The textures and colors are contemporary, yet soft and warm.

I also create two-dimensional art. My most recent experiments have been very large prints of very small paintings. I let paint mix on a tiny surface, then digitize the microscopic textures and expand them into large, colorful compositions. These can then be printed on a variety of media including canvas, transparent film, and fabric.

All in all, my art offers quiet joy at a time when most of us are heavily burdened by stress.




Art Major, Palomar College, CA


Art Major, Ceramic Minor, Santa Rosa Junior College, CA


Selected Exhibitions


(group exhibition) The Open Space Arts Gallery, Woodbridge VA

May 2022

(group exhibition) The Open Space Arts Gallery, Woodbridge VA

Apr. 2022

(group exhibition) Hypotheses, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA

Oct. 2021



KPWB Bus Shelter Beautification Program

Jul. 2022

Publications And Reviews


Torpedo Factory Art Center, Exhibition Catalog, Alexandria, VA


Target Gallery, Artist Spotlight, Alexandria, VA 


Recognition And Awards


Rochester Institute of Technology Trustee scholarship


Rochester Institute of Technology Grant


Savannah College of Art and Design Artist Merit Scholarship


California College of Arts Scholarship


Work History


Volunteer, Prince William Art Society


Assistant Designer, The Secret Garden Landscaping, Los Angeles, CA


Assistant Designer/Drafter, Sicola (Furniture Design), Los Angeles, CA


Drafter, Ergo Design Works (Interior Design) / Los Angeles, CA


Intern Drafter, Design X (Architecture), Los Angeles, CA


Intern Designer, Ilan Dei Studio (Home Accessories and Furniture), Venice, CA



Please email me at
Thank you
-Tamao Nakayama