Leading Lady : Yoko Ono

“You change the world by being yourself.”

Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo, Japan into an affluent family. The family became destitute in World War II and was forced to barter and beg for food. They moved to New York after the war, and Yoko soon followed. She enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College and attended art galleries and happenings in New York City, eventually using her own loft as a performance space.

John Lennon visited Indica Gallery in London while Yoko was preparing for an exhibition in 1966. John requested to hammer a nail in an instructional piece titled Painting to Hammer a Nail. Yoko offered to let him do so for 5 shillings and he countered, offering 5 imaginary shillings to hammer one imaginary nail. The connection was instant. John and Yoko collaborated on music, film projects, and used their honeymoon to protest the Vietnam War with a two-week long Bed-in for Peace. But Yoko's relationship with John Lennon caused her to be vilified by many and often overshadowed her work.

Yoko's art is conceptual and frequently requires the participation of the viewer. Cut Piece was a seminal performance wherein Yoko sat on stage with a pair of scissors next to her and invited audience members to cut pieces of her clothing. Grapefruit is an instructional and often lyrical book designed for the reader to complete tasks, sometimes by using their imagination. Yoko's unique contributions to art, music, and film are immeasurable. She founded the LennonOno Grant for Peace, is a member of Artists Against Fracking, and continues to use her art and voice to promote peace. - Kelly Longhurst


Photo Credit : Keith Macmillan