San Francisco Bay Area
East Asian
Mixed Media
Visual Arts
Mixed Media

Ellen Bepp

Mixed Media, Music, Visual Arts
Mixed Media
San Francisco Bay Area
East Asian

Artist Statement

My work is shaped by an array of cultural influences but mainly by my Japanese ethnic roots. Growing up as a third generation Japanese American, I was surrounded by traditional art and textiles and also came to develop a kinship with pre-Columbian art of Latin America. This connection animates my work that merges past and present by using graphic motifs combined with simple images of everyday life. For me each scrap of fabric or paper is like a metaphor for identity and personal memory that is at the core of my art. The materials I use include weathered handmade paper and textiles, watercolor, ink, graphite, pastels, acrylics, found objects, used tea bags, wire, nails, plaster and soil. A combination of surface treatments like hand stitching, drawing and printing allows me to create textured layers of commentary, mostly subtle, usually evocative.


Ellen is a mixed media and textile artist, taiko (Japanese drum) musician and educator. For 40 years she has endeavored to give voice to her Japanese cultural roots, to honor nature and to address political concerns through visual expression and the language of the drum. Much of her work translates the legacy of the American internment camps and Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings into peace and community-building. She has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1980 and in 1988 she co-founded 9-11 Studios, a live/work artist complex in Oakland, CA. Her work spans various media from painting and drawing to installations, wearable art, and theatrical costume and set design. Her interest in the arts and textiles of Asia and Latin America led to her involvement in humanitarian projects and arts research in indigenous communities of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Mexico. In addition Ellen began taiko training in 1974 under Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka, founder of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and went on to become an original performing member of San Jose Taiko and founding member of Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble.



Bachelor of Science Degree, University of Oregon, Eugene 1972
Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts, Berkeley, CA 1984-86
Individual folk art research – Chimaltenango, Guatemala 1973, Lima, Peru 1985, Michoacan, Mexico 1990


2014 Solo Exhibition, Michaelangelo Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA
Group Exhibition, Colorida Galeria de Arte e Design, Lisbon, Portugal

2012 GaNADa, Dohee Lee, Asian Improv aRts and Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Stage Installation Design and Fabrication, SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA

2009 ~ 2012 When Dreams are Interrupted, Purple Moon Dance Project Collaboration, Site Specific Set Design and Installation, Berkeley, San Francisco, Lodi, Tule Lake Concentration Camp, Fresno and Sacramento, CA

2011 Time Cocoon, Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble, Costume Design and Artistic Consultant, ODC Theater, San Francisco, CA
Atlacualo, Jose Navarrete and Violeta Luna, Costume Designer/Consultant, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA

2009 When Dreams are Interrupted, Purple Moon Dance Project Collaboration, Site Specific Set Design and Installation, Berkeley, CA

2005 Ghosts of Little Boy, Artists for Peace, National Japanese American Historical Society Peace Gallery, San Francisco, CA

TransMissions, origins, re/generations & community, Zeum Theatre/Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA

2004 Issho/Together: Japanese American/Japanese National Artists in America 1941 – Present, Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2000 Nikkei 2000 Art Exhibition, Japanese Peace Plaza, San Francisco, CA

1999 Art is Figurative – A Juried Competition, ACCI Gallery, Berkeley, CA
Resilient Images: Reflections of Internment, National Japanese American Historical Society Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1998 1998 Pro Arts Juried Annual Exhibition, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA Asian Pacific American Artists Today, Laney College Library, Oakland, CA

1997 Ancient Lessons, New Life, Cafe Vox Populi, La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA
Art Against the Death Penalty, New College of California, San Francisco, CA

1996 HeartWork, Creating Something Together, Euphrat Museum of Art, De Anza College, Cupertino, CA
Richmond Art Center Exhibition, Berlex Laboratories Inc. and the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA

1995 Latent August, The Legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, National Japanese American Historical Society, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA
BACA 11th Annual Juried National, Berkeley Art Center Exhibition 1995, Berkeley, CA
West Coast Works On/Of Paper Exhibition, The Ink People Center for the Arts, Eureka, CA

1994 The Alphabet Show, Okeanos Press Gallery, Berkeley, CA
Stop the Violence, Center for the Visual Arts, Oakland, CA
New World Border, Undocumented Art/Inalienable Rights, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA
Yellow Forest, SomArts Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1993 Asian Roots/Western Soil: Japanese Influences in American Culture, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley CA
63rd Annual Statewide Exhibition, Santa Cruz Art League, Santa Cruz, CA
Object As Identity, 1078 Gallery, Chico, CA
World of Difference – Art, Tourism and Cultural Dialogues, Euphrat Gallery, Cupertino, CA

1992 Executive Order 9066 – 50 Years Later, San Jose Art League Gallery, San Jose, CA
Rediscoveries: The Myth Makers, Jamaica Art Center, Jamaica, NY
Four Directions: Women Honor Native Land, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, CA
Ancestors and Experience, Matrix Gallery, Sacramento, CA
500 Years of Resistance Through Women’s Eyes, Mission Cultural Center Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Subtle Exchange, 1078 Gallery, Chico, CA

1991 Spirit of East and West, Berkeley Store Gallery, Berkeley, CA
Our History, Our Rituals, Bayview Operahouse, San Francisco, CA and Intercultural Gallery, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA

1990 Layers, Japan Cultural Center Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Pacific Bell Scholarship Winners Exhibition, Artisans Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
Divine Line, Arizona Commission on the Arts Traveling Exhibition, Mesa, AZ




2014 Arquetopia Artist Residency, Oaxaca, Mexico

2007 Gaea Foundation: Sea Change Residency, Provincetown, MA
DreamSpeakers Award, Purple Moon Dance Project, San Francisco, CA

1993 Honorable Mention Award
63rd Annual Statewide Exhibition, Santa Cruz Art League, Santa Cruz, CA

1989 Pacific Bell Scholarship Grant
Artisans, Mill Valley, CA

Honorable Mention Award
Fine Art Exhibition, San Rafael, CA

Juror’s Award
Galeria Mesa Exhibition, Mesa, AZ

1988 Purchase Award
West Coast Fiber Exhibition, Eureka, CA


2005 Tsukimi Kai Delegation to Cuba – Cultural Arts Exchange/Oral History Project –– Taiko performer and Musical Coordinator

1994 – 2010 Escuela Primaria Netzahualcóyotl, Bilingual School for Indigenous Children, Zihuatanejo,Mexico – Volunteer Teacher

1991 NICCA Construction Project in Matagalpa, Nicaragua – Volunteer Staff