Friday, August 18, 2017

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors (with Bonus Crochet and Knitting!)

I recently attended the Infinity Mirrors exhibit by Yayoi Kusama, showing at the Seattle Art Museum. I love living in a city that is filled with such interesting and exciting things to do. This exhibit included many fabric-based pieces, so I thought it would be appropriate to share it with you. I tend to stick to fiber arts on this blog; if you'd like to see other interesting things I do and encounter, consider following me on Instagram. I waited in line for two hours to get a ticket to the exhibit. It is only traveling to a few cities in the United States, so I feel lucky to have seen it.

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who works with repeating patterns and colors. Her personal inspirations, philosophies, and experiences are quite interesting if you're inclined to do some internet research about her. She had a difficult upbringing and was a part of the counterculture. Today, she chooses to live in a psychiatric facility. Her exhibit is a wonderful example of the enrichment that those who struggle with psychological disorders can bring to the world, and specifically to art. Here are some highlights from my visit to her exhibit, along with a few extras from the rest of the museum. I even found some crochet and knitting!

On display were many interesting painted pieces. All of the chunky-looking work was done with stuffed fabric, with painted designs added. They felt like they were alive. One can only imagine how labor-intensive they would be to put together.

Here is one of the infinity mirror rooms, again populated by friendly, squishy, fabric lumps. The experience of being in this field of polka dots was very interesting. This particular room was quite cheerful. Since I went to the museum sans my boyfriend or friends this time, I got to skip many lines and enter with other groups. Thus, I got to experience the rooms over and over. Delightful!

Both times I caught this room on camera, it was green. However, the lights flashed and changed in rainbows of colors. It was spectacular! Each mirror cube limited you to a short period of time, usually 20 to 30 seconds. I think the artist wanted this for several reasons. First, there were many people who wanted to enjoy the exhibit, so times had to be short. Second, if you looked too long in the rooms your eyes and brain might habituate. This means you would start to notice reference points, like the seams in the mirrors, and a bit of the magic would be lost. Finally, infinity is made more special when we only get glimpses of it. I left the exhibit with a craving for more, which would likely please Kusama.

This whole section was love-themed and very sweet. I found this to be the most whimsical part of the exhibit. Also, I love the way that the horizon dips inside the mirror-sphere in the leftmost picture. It really gave me the sense that there was something beyond.

This is the Obliteration Room. It started out completely white. All of the dots that you see were added by museum patrons. I got to add my own dots, too!

This mirror room was my absolute favorite. It was so magical that my eyes misted over the first time I walked in. By now, you all know how space-obsessed I am. I think that this experience was the closest I have ever felt to being surrounded by stars. Since it was dark, you couldn't see the lines in the mirrors very much. It felt real, like I was really standing in a different realm for a few brief moments. I couldn't stop myself from using my singles-line privileges to view this room about five times in total. The whole exhibit was really wonderful.

Even though I had been on my feet for hours by this point, I made sure to stroll through the rest of the museum. Above is a small collection of art that made a particular impression on me, including a wood-paneled room from the late 1500s. I suppose I really do love immersive experiences! SAM is very nicely curated.

I promised you crochet, and here it is! There was a super interesting piece on display that was an amalgamation of fabric swatches sewn together by Nick Cave. It included many knit swatches and also crochet rounds.

My day at the museum was delightful indeed. I encourage anyone who gets the chance to go see Kusama's art.

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