Monday, December 19, 2016


Yayoi Kusama is the most popular artist in the world.  Although I've seen and experienced her work many times over the years (here, here, and here are just a few), I still get excited each time I hear of some new Kusama experience.

When the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden unveiled Kusama's Pumpkin, 1994, a precursor to her retrospective exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors, I got to work making a spotted dress to coordinate with the 8-foot-tall sculpture.

Kusama sees pumpkins as universal symbols, and even uses them as self-portraits.  She has been quoted as saying,"Polka dots are fabulous," and this artwork combines two of her most well-known motifs: a spotted pumpkin becomes a stand-in for Kusama herself and also her vision of the world.

Kusama has suffered from hallucinations since she was a child, and her artwork is meant to show the world as she sees it.  I experienced a glimpse into her world while I was painting the spots on this dress: the repeating pattern made me slightly dizzy and nauseous at times, and when I looked away from the dress I could occasionally see a polka-dotted pattern continuing in my field of vision.  In those moments, I felt that I was connecting with Kusama's work in a deeper way, and in some part understanding what it is like to be her.

"Forget yourself.  Become one with eternity.  Become part of your environment." --Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors opens at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on February 23, 2017.

Photos by William Sealy.


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