Flower Atlas: Exhibition by Miya Ando
Curated by Kendal Henry
2023 Brookfield Place New York Annual Arts Commission
The Brookfield Place Annual Arts Commission provides each year’s recipient with the opportunity to create art in a unique way in a public setting. Miya was awarded this honor in 2023, using her art to highlight consequences of climate change.
Exhibition: Monday, July 10, 2023 – Thursday, September 14, 2023
Artist Talk: Thursday, July 20, 2023; 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Interdisciplinary artist Miya Ando reimagines the year 2023 not in days, but in flowers depicting the 72 seasons of the nature-based ancient Japanese system of time-telling. The installation comes to life through 72 cloth banners suspended in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place.
What if we measured time not in months, days, and hours, but in flowers? Flower Atlas, by Japanese and American artist Miya Ando, imagines such a world, representing 2023 in the form of 365 signature flowers in bloom each day somewhere on Earth.
The exhibition, commissioned by Arts Brookfield, greets viewers as a cascade of 72 cloth banners suspended across the majestic glass atrium, the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Each banner corresponds to one of 72 phenological seasons as defined by the Japanese Kõ calendar – a traditional, observation-based calendar adapted from the 24-season Chinese lunisolar calendar. Detailing subtle changes in the natural world, the Kõ calendar demarcates time as a series of natural events such as, “Fish Emerge from the Ice” (Feb. 14-18) and “Plums Turn Yellow” (June 16-20) are two examples, to render an alternative almanac of the living world with organic precision.
Flower Atlas further distills these seasons into 365 flowers in bloom each day of the year, somewhere on the surface of Earth. Soaring above visitors, the 72 banners create a moveable feast of tactile, temporal imagery, luring guests to pinpoint dates by flower and season, in the process attuning them to the impermanence and interconnectedness of all living systems.
Ando’s work presents physical articulations of her contemplation of the cycles of nature and the passage of time, in which concept, image, and materials fuse to create totemic objects. Taking as their subject the fleeting phenomena of seasons, day, night, clouds, and tides, her sculptural work is rendered in ink, pigment, micronized silver, gold, mica, oil, or resin, effectively harnessing materials of permanence to express notions of transience.
ABOUT MIYA ANDO AND HER PAST WORK
Nature serves as form and metaphor for expressing the concepts of impermanence and interdependence in Miya Ando’s artworks. The artist’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, and installations are a physical articulation of Ando’s contemplation of the cycles of nature and the inexorable passage of time. Concept, image, and materials are inextricably linked in the artist’s work. Ando transforms her mindfully chosen substrates: steel, wood, glass, aluminum – materials symbolizing permanence — to offer a view of that which is transitory. The layered, refractive surfaces of Ando’s sculptures and experiential paintings on metal, mirror the ephemeral nature of their subject, which is often fleeting natural phenomena: the seasons, light, clouds, tides evoked in the artist’s minimal visual syntax. Likewise, indigo drawings on washi paper represent a glimpse of the momentary – a glint of moonlight on a wave, or the radiant of a meteor shower. Juxtaposing the manmade with the organic, the material with the immaterial, polarity and harmony coexist in the artist’s work. This polarity is rooted in Ando’s unique perspective as an artist occupying a vantage point between Japanese and Western culture. Language, a signifier of cultural values, is integral to the artist’s creative inquiry. Undertaking extensive research of Japanese literature and historical texts for the past two decades, Ando records and translates historic, mostly arcane Japanese words that express a philosophy of existence and a relationship to nature which she seeks to preserve and translate into visual form through her art. The poetic, multilayered Japanese words Ando uncovers describe the moon, rain, clouds, and other elements. They demonstrate an immense reverence for the ephemeral natural world and an acute awareness of one’s dependence upon it. Conveying sentiments not found in Western thought, Ando provides an approximate English translation of these words in the titles for her artworks, consciously revealing the gap between the two languages and cultures that have informed her identity and point of view.
Miya Ando’s work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at The Asia Society Museum, Houston; The Noguchi Museum, New York; Savannah College Of Art and Design Museum, Savannah; The Nassau County Museum, Roslyn Harbor; and The American University Museum, Washington DC. Her work has also been included in recent group exhibitions at The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Haus Der Kunst, Munich; The Bronx Museum; and The Queens Museum of Art, NY. Ando’s work is included in the public collections of LACMA; The Nassau County Museum; The Corning Museum of Glass; The Detroit Institute of Arts; The Luft Museum; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; The Santa Barbara Museum of Art; The Museum of Art and History; among other public institutions as well as in numerous private collections. Ando has been the recipient of several grants and awards including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant Award, and has produced numerous public commissions, most notably a thirty-foot-tall sculpture built from World Trade Center steel installed in Olympic Park in London to mark the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, for which she was nominated for a DARC Award in Best Light Art Installation. Ando was also commissioned to create artwork for the historic Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, CT. The artist holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, studied East Asian Studies at Yale University and Stanford University, and apprenticed with a Master Metalsmith in Japan.