Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts. (Via Wikipedia)
Why I love her:
I had never even heard of Kusama until I was visiting the Pompidou in Paris where they were exhibiting a retrospective of her artwork. I remember walking into a hallways with her giant paintings and immediately feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It’s hard to say what sort of emotion: somewhere between feeling small and lost in a colorful polka dot void. Rarely do I have such a visceral reaction to paintings, but that emotion has stuck with me for a long time. Her installations are equally powerful. She transforms spaces into a weird mind-bending alternate dimensions that displace the viewer (in a good way).
I really hope that someday I will be able to see her Infinity Mirror Room collection at the Broad in Los Angeles. When I went soon after the Broad’s opening, the wait time to go into the room was over 5 hours. Not going to lie, it made me very sad, but at the same time, I’m really glad that so many people will be introduced to this amazing artist. The Infinity Mirror Room is also a great place for people to take art selfies, which adds another layer and complexity to the public’s art appreciation. This is particularly interesting to me as Kusama’s work is about self-obliteration and very much anti-ego. This interplay of social media best virtual self and artwork with the opposite in mind is very intriguing to me.
I have always been a fan of dystopian novels and stories. I actually started with the Utopia by Thomas More in high school, which is an old classic that considered what a perfect society might be like. After that, I started devouring any kind of Utopia/Dystopia I could find: Fahrenheit 451,Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, The Giver, the list goes on. The dystopian novel that has really haunted me, however, has been The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
I was 19 and overconfident in my knowledge of feminism. Despite this, I had only ever read the “classics” (focused on white male dystopias). This was assigned reading in my Women in American Society class(I dove into the deep end of critical theory and struggled greatly). Besides the other challenging, mind-blowing revelations in that class, this book focused on the fragility of women’s rights and how easily rights can be taken away. Reproductive rights, property rights, the right to not be sold as property in marriage, the right to participate in the same virtues and vices as men (jury duty, smoking and drinking in bars, running marathons, etc). Not only this, but also that many of these rights were only granted within living memory. I remember the novel mentioning women not being allowed to have credit cards without a male co-signer up until the 1970s. At first, I thought this was an alternative history timeline until I asked my mother about it and then proceeded to research it. This is the truly haunting part of the book, especially for those not the most well versed in recent history. I recommend this book for everyone, but especially young women, as often we can take for granted rights and liberties that were fought hard for.
Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists not only for her amazing use of color in her paintings, but also for her life story and determination.
Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at her family home in Coyoacán, La Casa Azul, now known and publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum. She was disabled by polio as a child. Until a traffic accident at age eighteen caused lifelong pain and medical problems, she had been a promising student headed for medical school. During her recovery, she returned to her childhood hobby of art with the idea of becoming an artist. (From Wikipedia)
Kahlo is known for her self-portraits (much like Rembrandt). However, unlike other artists, she expresses her inner turmoil through more poetic painting through iconography rather than dramatic lighting.
I love that Rembrandt was unafraid to use heavy shadow in his paintings. The darkness is used strategically to bring the viewer’s eye to the focus. This is the chiaroscuro effect that I am a huge fan of.
His self-portraits are absolutely stunning and it’s really cool to see his evolution through his self-portraits. I am always inspired to start painting self-portraits again whenever I look at this Dutch master.
He wasn’t just a painter. He was also a printmaker! They had a collection of his etchings in Boston a few years back which I was very happy to see! I love his swagger in this one:
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of Rembrandt work in person in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum. I also made sure to go to his house which is maintained as a museum.
Just and update for you all: it seems very likely that I will not be going to Japan with the JET program. I’m currently on the waitlist, but it seems unlikely that I will be upgraded at this point. It took me a while to be okay with taking the L on this particular dream of mine. While I can apply through other programs to teach in Japan, I’m taking the summer to focus on my writing and other creative pursuits.
I am developing ideas for a short form comic book. I have three stories currently brewing in my mind right now.
In order to actually get this accomplished, I’ve put myself on a social media diet. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account and deleted apps off of my phone. It’s funny how easy it is to get addicted to something so stupid. I’ve been off of it for about a week, and I’ve found that during the time I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook was when I needed to daydream and be creative.
I will be using this blog more for thoughts and general observations as well as updates regarding my work.