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Why Yayoi Kusama matters today

Cleveland Museum of Art, Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama’s works of art are just as relevant today as they were when she built her very first Infinity Room in 1965. With the recent political climate dramatically shifted, it echoes feelings from the 60s with protests, equal rights movements and underserved justice. Her art offers a sense of optimism and hope, relatable on a global scale to people of every age and every gender. “I want all the countries in the world to work together so that more people can strive to live in peace” said Kusama. In today’s world, I think we need people like her, actually, a lot more people like her.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is someone I personally look up to, and one who can inspire us for many years to come. I first saw her work in April 2017 at the National Art Center in Tokyo, and entered my very first Infinity Room. I was hooked, and not just for the gram, but for the few seconds of escape. It was as if I was actually floating through her thoughts for a brief moment in time – a pretty incredible feeling. From there I went to her pop-up exhibit at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York, followed by the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo, the pop-up at Far Rockaway, and back to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio to see her traveling exhibit.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Yayoi Kusama

The traveling exhibit hosts the most Infinity Mirrors in one space, at one time. There are around 20 Infinity rooms throughout the world, with an incredible 8 now showing at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “We thought this would be a well-liked exhibit for Cleveland, but no one anticipated it to be this popular,” Reto Thurging, curator of contemporary art said.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Yayoi Kusama

Although her art is highly emotional and very conceptual, it was inspiring everyone who came into contact with her art. I watched as young children were awakened to the bright colours and shining light, millennials loving how ‘grammable it all was, and adults who we stunned by her relentless and heartbreaking dedication to her art. And some like me, who felt all those feelings at one time. “She remains a very active artist at 89 years old,” as mentioned by Emily Liebert-the associate curator of modern art, and still works every day from 9-6.

Cleveland Museum of Art, Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is an artist who continues to offer an inspiring ray of hope to the world, or rather, many dots of hope, to the young and to the old. “Our Earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos,”Kusama.

 

Check out our Kid’s Tokyo Retail Video and the Tokyo Sport Girl’s Capsule for more playful Japanese inspiration for kids.

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