Lydia Okumura was born in São Paulo in 1948 to a Japanese immigrant family. She attended a Japanese school in Brazil – merging two very distinct cultural influences that resonate in her work. Okumura’s interest in art was awakened by her father Takashi – a prominent calligrapher. She developed her relief paintings from industrial refuse which she displayed at her first solo exhibition at Varanda Galeria in 1968. Reading about the Tokyo Biennale in 1970 in the Japanese art magazine “Bijutsu Techou” while attending FAAP art college helped liberate her form of expression through Conceptual Art, Minimalism, Land Art, Art Povera, etc.
After winning a prize at the 1973 São Paulo Biennale and finishing college, in 1974 Okumura was granted a 4 year scholarship at the Pratt Graphics Center in New York. Few years later, during the São Paulo Biennale of 1977 she was urged to establish this move to New York by American art critic, Gregory Battcock. In the following years, Okumura exhibited some of her most prominent paintings and installations in various galleries, institutions and collectors’ homes in New York City and São Paulo.
In 1981, Okumura realized the large scale sculpture, Installation/Instalação, in the Espaço Arena, Pinacoteca, São Paulo. In 1985, Okumura traveled to Tokyo, this time with her parents. Her travels coincided with her participation in “Today’s Art of Brazil,” at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, where additional Okumura works were added to the 1980 entry in the Museum’s permanent collection. Since returning to the US in 1989, she has continued to produce art at her studio in Union Square, New York, where she still works.