Born in Los Angeles, half Japanese, half Russian-American artist Miya Ando is known for her meditative paintings and sculptures that observe the passage of time and transitory nature of life.Read More
Ando's early years—spent between a Buddhist temple in Okayama, and in a redwood forest in Northern California—have deeply influenced her artmaking, along with her ancestry of Samurai-era Bizen sword-makers, reflected in the deft manipulation of metals in her sculptures. In 1996, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkley; followed by studies in Buddhist iconography and imagery at Yale University. A practicing Buddhist, Ando enters a non-attached, 'state of no-mindedness' known as mushin when creating her work. This sense of interconnectedness translates to her works' interactions with space and their viewers' vantage points, determining experiences of light and reflectivity.
Ando's work has been described as Post Minimalist, however her constant pushing of material boundaries has allowed her to establish her own unique style. Her experiments with aluminium are prime examples of this. Submerging the aluminium plates into an electrochemical bath, Ando then layers them with sapphire crystals so that the dyes are easily absorbed. The smooth, ethereal works embody her meditative approach, while gesturing to the car culture of her birthplace, Los Angeles. Ando cites her father's rebuilding cars and introducing her to metal smithing, as further influences, along with the work of light and space artists such as Robert Irwin and Larry Bell.
Further to her gently gradating aluminium paintings, along with sculptures that have been subtly manipulated through natural processes such as charring and melding, the artist also creates large-scale public installations. In these larger installations, Ando amplifies the sense of vastness explored throughout her work. Speaking with Brienne Walsh in an Ocula Conversation from 2017, the artist explained that, 'nature is the great equaliser. We all know what rain is. We all know the feeling of experiencing vastness. I like the idea of making something that is a barometer of our physical environment.' In one such work, mounted during Miami Art Week in 2018, Ando enveloped the historic Versailles hotel building with panels covered in pink and yellow-tinged clouds. Evoking a sunset or sunrise, Sora Versailles explored the passing of time, becoming the backdrop to surrounding city life; while embodying the building's architect, Roy France's philosophy of 'let in the air and sun'.
In another installation, titled Since 9/11 (2011), Ando utilised salvaged beams of steel from the World Trade Center in New York to create a 30-foot-tall sculpture mounted in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London for the ten-year anniversary of 9/11—commissioned for the city of London and collaborating with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The sculpture led to her nomination for a DARC Award in Best Light Art Installation.
Other materials used by Ando include glass, which she used to create the suspended panels, Haku-Un (White Cloud) 4.8.1 and Haku-Un (White Cloud) 3.3.1 (both 2017), which featured clouds created from a microscopic fracture of the glass itself, shown in the indoor-outdoor gallery of Noguchi Museum in New York in 2018. These sculptures draw from her work in glass from 2011, involving images of clouds inserted in small glass cubes using laser etching technology. Natural forms such as leaves have found their way into her work, including an installation titled Obon (2012), which involved 1,000 non-toxic resin and phosphorescence-coated Bodhi leaves released into a pond in Puerto Rico. Recharging during the day, the leaves glowed ethereally at night.
Ando's work has been exhibited around the world, including Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form at Asia Society, Houston (2019); Waves Becoming Light at Cornell Art Museum, Florida; Cloud Field at The Katzen Arts Center at the American University Museum, Washington DC (2018) and Temporal at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah (2017). Her work is held in public collections, including LACMA, Nassau County Museum, Corning Museum of Glass, Detroit Institute of Art Museum, The Luft Museum, along with numerous private collections.
Tessa Moldan | Ocula | 2020