Yoko Ono was born on the 18th February 1933 and is a Japanese artist, singer and peace activist. She is the widow of John Lennon and is known for her avant-garde work and cultural activities. Yoko Ono grew up in Tokyo, her family moved to the US to escape the war and she joined them in 1953. She met John Lennon in 1966 at her own art exhibition and they started dating in 1968. She had a huge influence on Lennon and his music and they famously used their honeymoon to protest against the Vietnam War. She achieved commercial success as part of the Plastic Ono Band and reached No. 1 in the US charts with Double Fantasy.
Engagement in Cultural Diplomacy
Yoko Ono has actively campaigned for peace and human rights since the 1960s. Her work in the arts, music and culture has promoted political activism through the medium of art. She funds and supports the legacy of John Lennon and his work in cultural diplomacy. Yoko Ono’s Spirit Foundation strives to create cultural unity with initiatives such as the Smiles Film, Imagine Peace Tower, Strawberry Fields and The Dream Power Concert.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon actively protested the Vietnam War staging the infamous “Bed-in for Peace” in Amsterdam. In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono spread their message of peace around 12 major world cities citing “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It - Happy Christmas from John & Yoko” on billboards. She has spoken out publicly about her support of feminism, and her own experience with racism from rock fans in the UK. After the Columbine School Massacre in 1999, Ono organised for billboards to be installed in New York and Los Angeles that showed the image of John Lennons’ blood=splashed glasses and one in London with a line from Lennon’s “Imagine”. Ono established a Peace Award called the “LennonOno Grant for Peace” which awards $50,000 to artists living in regions of conflict, originally to Palestinian and Israeli artists.
Throughout Yoko Ono’s life she has worked relentlessly towards improving the lives of others, including millions of dollars in charity donations and establishing her own Charitable Foundation called the Yoko Ono’s Spirit Foundation. She recently donated £100,000 to launch a bursary scheme at Liverpool John Moores University to ensure that students bought up in care are able to enjoy and make the most out of the opportunities available at University. Yoko Ono’s Spirit Foundation has build over 90 schools in the past 10 years and is planning on expanding into Asia.
Yoko Ono used the occasion of their Honeymoon as a “Bed-In for Peace” in their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel where the couple invited press and visitors in order to talk about and promote the quest for World-Peace. On June 29 2012, Ono received a lifetime achievement award at the Dublin Biennial. Yoko Ono works to preserve and promote John Lennon’s legacy, funding and maintaining Strawberry Fields in New York City and the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland as well as the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan until its closure. Yes Yoko Ono, a 40 year retrospective of Ono’s work received the International Association of Art Critics USA Award, which is generally considered one of the highest accolades in the museum world. She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Liverpool.