Artist Statement

Gayle Tanaka’s work explores the surfaces and interiors of her family history of immigration and assimilation, through the digital manipulation of portraiture, symbology and found media.  Illuminated boxes and transparencies, family portraits, and digital self-portraits draw from her Japanese heritage, blended and bent to reflect the force of culture and the effect of time.  All is fleeting.  The permanence of change is acknowledged by the presentation of informed moments of stasis.

Artist Bio

Gayle Tanaka was born in Chicago, Illinois.  She received a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Hawaii and an M.F.A. in printmaking from San Francisco State University.  Tanaka has exhibited nationally, including shows at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art and the Center for Photography in New York.  She currently has a studio at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island, New York.



M.F.A. (Printmaking), San Francisco State University, Distinguished Graduate Student Award

B.F.A. (Painting), University of Hawaii

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

2009  Saving Face,  Soho20 Gallery, New York

2007  To the New York Islands,  Soho20 Gallery, New York

2005  Personal References,  Soho20 Gallery, New York

2003  Gayle Tanaka:  It's About Time, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, New York

2002  Personal Effects, El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, Buffalo, New York

2000  Gayle Tanaka:  Boxing Memories, A.R.C. Gallery, Chicago

1997  Office Politics, A.I.R. Gallery, New York

1996  Gayle Tanaka:  Office Politics, San Francisco Art Commission, San Francisco

1995  eye/I matter(s)--Gayle Tanaka:  photographic construction and installations, 1078 Gallery, Chico

Gayle Tanaka:  Views From Without, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago

Gayle Tanaka:  Mixed Media Photo Installation, Olga Dollar Gallery, San Francisco

1994  Olga Dollar Gallery, San Francisco

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2017  Annual Group Exhibition, Soho20 Gallery, New York

2016  Black and Blue, Soho20 Gallery, New York

2012  Always/Never, Soho20 Gallery, New York

2010  Between the Lines, Soho20 Gallery, New York

2009  The Artists of Zyzzyva, Mina Dresden Gallery, San Francisco

Broad Shoulders & Brotherly Love, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago

2006  Radiant, Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn

Fresh A.I.R., Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston

2005  Scents of Purpose, Jewish Museum San Francisco

Silver:  Snug Harbor Cultural Center Studio Program, 25th Anniversary Exhibition, New York

Artists in Residence, Anchor Graphics, Chicago

2002  A.R.C. National II, A.R.C. Gallery, Chicago

Invisible Cities, Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York

1999  Making Change, Jewish Museum San Francisco

Passing, Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino

Casa de Espantos, SOMARTS, San Francisco

Resilient Images:  Reflections upon Japanese Internment, Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco

1998  The Mexterminator:  Museo Interactivo de Etnografia Experimental & Cultura Apocaliptica,

SOMAR, San Francisco

Labyrinth:  A Day of the Dead Exhibition, Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Contents and Contexts:  Lithography after 200 years, Honolulu Academy of Arts

Day of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos:  Artists’ Installations, The Museum of Art & History,

The McPherson Center, Santa Cruz

1997  VIVA:  A Celebration of Three Decades at the Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley

Labyrinth for the Dead, Mission Cultural Center, San Francisco

1996  Yesterday, Today & Manana:  Rooms for the Dead, Mission Cultural Center, San Francisco

1995  Kala Fellowship Awards Exhibition, Kala Institute, Berkeley

Cultural Baggage, Rice Media Center Gallery, Rice University, Houston

1994  bodies and souls, Berkeley Art Center Association, Berkeley

Rooms for the Dead, Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

1993  Object, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco


2001  BCAT/Rotunda Gallery Artists' Residency, Brooklyn

2000  Knight Foundation Visiting Artist Fellowship at Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia

Anchor Graphics Artists in Residence, Chicago

1996  Puffin Foundation Grant Award

1994  Kala Fellowship Award, Berkeley, CA


Gayle Tanaka, textimage, Zyzzyva, Spring 2009. 

Kara Kelley Hallmark, Encyclopedia of Asian American Artists, Greenwood Press, 2007.

Ariella Cohen, Ritual Objects Redefined, review, Forward, 6 May 2005.

Michael J. Freesola, A Fresh Take on Old Topics in 'It's About Time' Installation, review,

Staten Island Advance, 10 January 2003.

Allan L. Edmunds, Three Decades of American Printmaking:  The Brandywine Workshop Collection,

Hudson Hills Press, 2004.

Blaise Schweitzer, In the Eyes of Beholders, review, Sunday Freeman, 2 June 2002.

Bruce Adams, East Meets West, review, Buffalo News, 12 April 2002.

Gayle Tanaka, I'll Miss Myself When I Die, New Graphics Revival, 2001.

Making Change:  Reinterpreting the Act of Charity in Jewish Culture and Faith, review,

Spirituality & Health, Fall 2000.

Michael Weinstein, 5 Shows to See Now, review, New City, 20 April 2000.

Nancy Segal, More Than Just a Box, review, Forward, 31 December 1999.

Jean Schiffman, A Great Escape:  San Francisco's Small Museums, review,

San Francisco Arts Monthly, December 1999.

Allison Arieff, A Mexican Presence:  Yerba Buena Center for the Arts San Francisco, California,

review, Art Nexus, February-April 1999.

Kenneth Baker, Nontraditional Fare From Israel, Mexico:  Yerba Buena shows pick apart

 stereotypes, review, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 September 1998.

Jose F. Aranda, Betty Joseph and Padmaja Challakere, Unpacking Postcolonialism, review,

afterimage, January/February 1996. 

Michael Weinstein, review, New City, September 1995.

Margaret Hawkins, Exhibits Look in on Outsider Art, review, Chicago Sun-Times,

1 September 1995.

Gayle Tanaka, The Long and the Short of It, Zyzzyva, Spring 1995. 

Terri Cohn, Where Worlds Meet:  Vida y Muerte:  art that honors life through death, review, Artweek,

1 December 1994.

Terri Cohn, Shaped Identities:  The Photographic Object, Camerawork, Spring/Summer 1994. 

David Bonetti, Alternative Production Looks from the Floor up, review, San Francisco Examiner,

13 January 1994.



  • Visual Arts
  • New York City, NY
  • East Asian
  • Digital
  • Installation
  • Mixed Media