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Keiko Miyamori, I Am Still In New York, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

By PAUL LASTER, October 2021

Concept artist working in a variety of media, Keiko Miyamori is best known for her time-based tree rubbings made during particular periods of her life with handmade charcoal on Japanese Washi paper that she exhibits in groups in homemade glass boxes that she uses for transformative packaging. everyday objects. Born and educated in Japan, she has lived and worked in the United States for over twenty years, while maintaining a deep connection to her hometown, Yokohama, and traveling the world to create and exhibit her poetic and empowering form of art.

When covering found objects – such as a typewriter, globe, bed, flowerpot, birdcage, television, or piano – with torn pieces, the charcoal-rubbed Washi paper having prints of trees, she imagines it as a second skin. Traditional Japanese washi paper is made from fibers obtained from the inner bark of the gampi tree, mitsumata shrub, and mulberry. The charcoal Miyamori uses is made from branches that she collects from the area where she does her tree trimming. She sees the tree as a symbol of life – of a continuous renewal of life – and her use of materials made from trees continues this cycle.

Keiko Miyamori, I’m Still in Japan, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Doing tree rubbings in her environment, whether it is where she lives or where she has traveled, connects her to this place and becomes part of her personal memory, the collective memory of this kingdom and a memory integrated into her. art. Totally dedicated to this meditative medium of artistic creation, Miyamori has traveled to five different continents making rubbing trees for use in murals, sculptures and installations. Each project has its own set of applied plans or conceptual boundaries, but two recent related projects — the 2020s I’m still in New York and 2021 i’m still in japan– stand out as a bridge between the artist’s own existence and a universally shared situation.

Keiko Miyamori, I Am Still In New York, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

The artist started I’m still in New York on April 20, 2020, the day her flight to Japan to visit her elderly relatives was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over a period of 125 days, she performed tree trimming in the neighborhood surrounding her Brooklyn studio. Each small piece of hand-torn washi paper was stamped with a number, and the rubbing process was documented on Instagram with his iPhone camera. To present this temporal work, Miyamori constructed individual glass boxes from hand cut glass and tinned copper, which was oxidized to silver, gray and black to indicate the existing climatic conditions, related to when the friction has been done. Going further, she then etched this information on the glass, for example, Day 2 / 4.21.2020 / Memory # 20032 / Rainy Afternoon.

Keiko Miyamori, I Am Still In Japan, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

When travel restrictions were lifted and she was finally able to travel to Yokahama to visit and take care of her parents, she got stuck there during a lockdown and created a new sequence of daily scrubs. trees, which her 97-year-old father sometimes helped her make when she took him for walks from his retirement home, to I am still in Japan. Carried out over a period of 81 days, from January 14, 2021 (artist’s birthday) to April 3, 2021, the day before she can finally return to her husband, her home and her studio in New York. Poetically marking time while putting Miyamori in touch with her past, present and future, the projects created new memories while recalling old ones. MW

Keiko Miyamori, I Am Still In Japan, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Keiko Miyamori, I Am Still In New York, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Keiko Miyamori, I Am Still In New York, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Paul Laster

Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and speaker. He is editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glassware. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Artkrush, started the art section of the Daily Beast, and was the art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld magazine, as well as curator at the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.

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