MASAKO MIKI ExHibition Presented By RYAN LEE

MASAKO MIKI ExHibition Presented By RYAN LEE

RYAN LEE is pleased to announce Empathy Lab, the first major exhibition of a debut body of work by Bay Area-based Japanese contemporary artist Masako Miki. The landmark solo show proudly introduces new works to her Shapeshifter series, which roots its expressions in the animistic polytheism of Shinto traditions. Conceiving of the gallery as a home, Miki constructs various spaces for casual connection and contemplation, from an engawa deck to an open garden-scape dotted with deity-inspired bronze and felt
creatures, objects, and forms, alongside vibrant drawings that convey the outside world.

Empathy Lab

Empathy Lab ignites the artist’s common theme of questioning how tradition and folklore offer grounds for exploring bicultural identity. In her characters—whose designs are rooted in deep histories of animistic mythology—sacredness is implied, regardless of diversity in form, texture, surface or material make-up. “Normalcy” is supplanted by a divine plurality of identity, significant and celebrated in each unique sense of selfhood. In their exaltation, some of the characters are literally uplifted. Inspired by the engawa element characteristic of Japanese architecture—a transitional wood-deck bridging residential interior and exterior spaces—Miki elevates
a portion of the gallery to invite and welcome interaction with the art, and perhaps most importantly with one another.

Holistically responding to the gallery’s layout, she envisioned tokonoma spaces too, another architectural element common in Japanese housing. This area showcases Miki’s Shapeshifters in a deliberately homey, communal setting inspired by the everyday engagement that passersby may have with friends and neighbors, or even with houses of deities (shrines) in Japan. “This casual socialization can lead to meaningful connections, and shared experience is the first step to building communities,” says Miki. In Shinto
folklore, “there are a myriad of gods in this universe, yet they can only fulfill their duties as a collective. I resonate these ideas in my work as a reminder of how we endeavor our challenges together.”

The exhibition, as such, offers more than just its physical experience—it suggests multiple vibrant entry points into exploring the junctures of tradition and modernity, and the cultural marriages that they often signal. The cast bronze pieces express the “synthesis of combining two finishes of century-old patina with the modern invention of automotive paint,” which is an extremely complex color application process; while the similarly involved process of creating the felt characters utilizes wool, activating multitudes of design phases before reaching final form.

Sashiko Ghost

This presentation of new works is ultimately about reclaiming the power of myth-making. We are told and we succumb to stories that punctuate our shared histories with painful and unresolved tensions. “Our lives are filled with mythologies, manipulated ideologies, and fear driven narratives that deepen chasms among us,” says Miki. Her work proposes resolution through creative and communal agency, exhibiting through her characters and environments the optimistic reality of the power of imagination to drive the future. “I am convinced that we need new mythologies to question old myths. We can update the myths.”

Post a Comment