Speaking with art professor, Mari Omori, you can’t help but be drawn in by her passion and love for art. Participants at this year’s Texas Association of Schools of Art (TASA) will no doubt find themselves feeling the same way. Omori, an internationally known artist teaching at Lone Star College-Kingwood, was chosen to be the 2008 Paul Hanna Speaker at the TASA conference in Beaumont based on her work, Crossing Boundaries. She draws from her past and weaves it with her present to create a unique vision of space, memories, and boundaries. She identifies the major transitional experiences in her life of growing up in post-war Japan, the culture shock of moving to America, and her graduate work at UCLA where she was influenced by both figurative and conceptual artists of the time. “Boundary to me is like a skin, a covering, an outer limit of self,” she says. Boundaries are not always written, says Omori, some are just known by custom or assumed by behavior. An example would be the different behavior between a person’s private and public or social life. “Most of us are crossing numerous boundaries daily without even realizing it. Crossing boundaries has become a way of life.” Omori states in her proposal, “My experiences of boundaries seem furthermore porous, free-flowing, shapeless, and translucent. The boundaries I cross over are from my inner-being to outer reality and from eastern to western values, a duality in which I exist harmoniously.” She says her presentation will draw from Japanese art, particularly wood block prints, architecture, and language; exploring the levels of formality and the Japanese religion of Shinto. She will provide slides and examples of how all these influences have boundaries, both seen and unseen. The artist stays busy, constantly pursuing new projects. Currently, she is involved in the Time Marker/Time Keeper at Lone Star College-North Harris and she is an artist in residency at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s “Collage” program. For Earth Day, she will be involved in “Green Concept” through Houston Community College, where she and other artists will be using collected shredded paper combined with wheat starch to create a giant “natural” rug. The TASA conference will be on April 11 in Beaumont, Texas.

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