Start with a blank canvas. Can you?
Watching a child begin a picture, there is no hesitation on color selection or what to draw. It is fluid and free. At times, it is chaotic. The large majority of adults would not know where to start. Creative freedom is forgotten with the responsibilities of adulthood. With life experience, limits are learned and nurtured until they are made our own. Stark comparisons to what could be and the work of the great painters, sculptors, and photographers kill the appetite to create. The next great painters shrink in their shadows. Yet, the legendary artists were not great once, they failed, they sought inspiration, and most importantly they continued to try. Perfecting trying until they became the inspiration to others.
Yahoi Kusama, world famous artist had her calling as young girl. She spoke of seeing polka dots everywhere. Over run with them and hallucinating, she describes herself as being obliterated by them .These hallucinations also involved flowers speaking to Kusama, and the patterns in fabric that she stared at coming to life, multiplying, and engulfing or expunging her, a process which she has carried into her artistic career and calls “self-obliteration”.[13 It may have been a calling so strong, she had no choice but to create. She has been interviewed many times and shared that art literally saved her life. Interestingly, enough approaching her 88th birthday, Yayoi Kusama has confined herself to an mental institution. There Yayoi is still creating and actively working on her conceptual art.
The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama‘s 65-year-spanning retrospective “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” which kicked off its years-long world tour at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. last month. Took a look. Mind blown. The exhibit is playful, thought provoking, and unlike anything I have ever seen. The Hirshhorn has seen it’s membership grow dramatically given the insider member benefits of scoring a precious ticket to this one of a kind experience. For those who may be unable to visit Washington DC it’s first stop, the Washington Post did a fantastic 3 minute video highlighting the exhibition. Click below.
Full disclosure. Having traveled and experienced world renowned art museums, my attention is typically held for about forty five minutes to an hour. Art critics aghast, I know. Life is short. Traversing the floors and lingering at the paintings I liked, while cruising by all the styles I don’t care for, it’s a formula that works for me. Having traveled to amazing museums in a hit and run fashion, the Yayoi Kasuma Infinity Mirrors exhibit was the first experience where I didn’t check my watch or dart for the door sixty minutes in. To experience this properly, there are a few things you need to know in advance to fully appreciate this series:
- Get your tickets. For Hirshhorn Members, you have an “anytime” ticket which allows you to be in a separate members line from the general public. If you are not a member, you can join for a $50.00 which is 100% tax deductible membership. Included in the membership along with the standard Hirshorn member benefits is two tickets to the Infinity Mirror exhibit. Score.
- Eat before you go. Expecting a 60 minute drive by experience, this was not it. Each piece has a line. When you enter to experience it, there a 30 to 60 seconds max time frame. Not much time to take pictures.
- Solidify your group. My recommendation would be to go in groups of 2 or 4. You will get a little more time to experience and view the exhibits as a result. The museum employees responsible for the queuing allowed for extended time in parties of two or four. Pick your favorite people. There is a lot of time in the lines so you will want to be with people you want to catch up with. This worked perfectly for my day there. Great crew, great time.
- Study up on Yayoi Kasuma. I was completely drawn in by her Zoolander look. After the exhibit, I had to learn more.The show was light on details on her life and what she was all about. There are probably pros and cons to knowing her story before you see her art. It may distort or enhance your experience. I walked away wishing I had known more about her.
- Enjoy it. We were a bit silly taking pictures from all angles. After asking if we could lay on the floor and receiving the response from the Hirshorn employee, “well I’m not going to fight you over it.”, giggles turn to all out laughter. We later learned that an out of control selfie taker ended up taking down one of the yellow day glow pumpkins. Sadness. So check yourself, before you wreck it for the rest of us. Pictures are fantastic to capture a moment in time but looking lens free brings you closer to what the artist intended.