"Kusama: Infinity" Documentary Screening
I had the pleasure of attending a screening of Kusama: Infinity on October 16, 2018 at the immaculate Tampa Theatre, before it was released on streaming platforms. Like many great artists, there's no lack of pain or struggle in Yayoi Kusama's story and she had many recurring themes in her work. She was fascinated with the Pacific Ocean, dots, and infinity nets - she hoped to create a world of her own. There are no drafts of her work, just the finished product. "Once something enters her mind she cannot get rid of it", a guest of the documentary says of the witty, fashionable, stoic artist. Yayoi once received constant love letters and drawings from an admirer but wasn't phased; he'd spend hours on the phone waiting for Yayoi to return home so they could continue their phone conversations right where they left off. The film covers her earliest concepts, including one of my favorites, Accumulation. The irony of it all, Yayoi feared sex and created the infamous chair while in a psychosomatic state. Her penis sculpture couch was on display with a wall-mounted Andy Warhol painting, which it eventually out shined.
Yayoi was an installation pioneer who paved the way for artists like Warhol. After she covered an entire room with a repeat image and created a mirrored installation, Warhol took it upon himself to "borrow" her concepts, to put it respectfully. However, he wasn't the only male artist with large popularity that stole from the visionary. At a very low point, Yayoi attempted suicide but was thankfully unsuccessful.
"I protested against the closed minds of museums" she says of her MoMA exhibit. Continuing to break the mold, she made history by performing the first homosexual wedding in the USA. For Kusama's Self Obliteration film she covered herself in polka dots. The dots, she says, reminded her of childhood hallucinations she'd often experience. She also participated in a naked protest of the draft and WWII in the USA, but received criticism back home for her efforts; her nudity caused shame for her family, former school who removed her from their alumni, and her country of Japan.
Eventually, Kusama returned to Japan to start from scratch after lack of reception and support of her work, however, she still hadn't shaken her scandal status within the strict culture. To top things off, Kusama lost her dad which brought back a flood of traumatic childhood memories. Depression would eventually halt her ability to paint, leading her to attempt suicide again. She would then check into art therapy rehab where she was able to work again. Her work from this time period was dark and symbolizes the natural cycle of life. In a series of collages denouncing war, she created "Tidal Waves of War", "Graves of the Unknown Soldiers", and "War". Despite living in a psychiatric hospital, Kusama continued with her exhibits, showcasing at an art studio within walking distance of her residence.
Then a major opportunity came - Venice Bienale. Not only did this signify reconciliation with Japan, as she was the first woman to ever represent their country, but it was also a great honor as an artist. The reputable art organization located in Venice, Italy was established in 1895 and began hosting festivals in 1930. The first film festival in history, Venice Film Festival, began there in 1932.
For more details on her life, check out the documentary yourself. I can't wait to attend her Polka Dot Party for next week's "I Make Mondays" event! We'll be covering a personal article of clothing in polka dots which is inspired by her Obliteration Room installation.
"Love Is Calling" Exhibit
I had my 7 year old sister, Jade, accompany me to the "Love Is Calling" exhibit on February 10th, 2019 at the Tampa Museum of Art. She's already been to the Glazier Children's Museum next door, so I thought this would be a cool new experience. In case you've been living under a rock, it came in September 2018 and ends today on Valentine's Day. From the moment we entered, she was fascinated with the beautiful museum architecture and we hadn't even made it into the galleries, yet. She's in the gifted program and is wicked smart, so I do my best to stimulate her creative side. Their minds are like sponges and I only want her absorbing things that'll enhance her. Taking her was the best decision ever! There were several moments when she was in complete awe. Her jaw-dropped as she gazed up at Aphrodite Reimagined towering over her. I was even in awe at the new modern take on the Greek statue.
Now it was time to get to what we actually came for! We wanted to save the best for last. After reading about the exhibit while in line, we entered Kusama's curated room and Jadey lost her mind! So did I! LOL it was sensory overload in the best way possible - constantly changing, vibrant colors, paired with polka dots and a completely mirrored room.
Enjoy photos from the exhibit below! <3
More museum fun! <3