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What I Learned at Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors Exhibit

1. Be bold. Be brave. Make noise 

In the 1960s Kusama made waves in New York when she staged the rumoured first gay marriage and her “Body Festivals”, where she painted nude dancers with polka dots and took them to Wall Street. She wanted to disrupt the current culture and what was considered to be art. She wasn’t afraid to make a bold statement even though at times the media judged her harshly for it.

2. Don’t be afraid to do something outside (or in) a box

In hindsight, when people take risks and become successful, it’s easy to pinpoint how it happened and to be proud of every step of the way. Before then, when you’re just starting out or maybe haven’t found your success yet, there can be a lot of pressure to follow the norms or refrain from doing something because it’s different and you’re worried about people’s reactions. Taking risks is how you and your work grow.

3. Have big dreams and find out how to make them real

James Cameron, George Lucas, and Pixar all had to create technology for what they wanted to do. Don’t let the challenge of big dreams hold you back. Don’t stop just because an obstacle is in your way. Kusama went to art school despite her parents wishes. She went to New York with basically nothing. She did what she had to do for success and she never stopped even when it was hard.

4. Make YOUR Art

For most people, dots are just dots, but she made them into something beautiful. You never see Kusama painting like Monet or changing her art because it’s trendy. She has her own style, she doesn’t care if it’s popular or not. It’s solely her own.

5. You can be fabulous at any age 

Kusama is in her 90s!! And is living in the height of her fame and success. She constantly creates, even what she wears is art. This shows that you can be relatable and you can communicate with all ages and all kinds of people through your art, whether you’re a fifteen year old kid in a basement or a 90 year old sensation.

6. Don’t run away from your fears, make them into art

Kusama’s fears have been a strong part of her narrative throughout her life. She could have decided to avoid, ignore, or run away from them and let them paralyze her. But instead she faced them head on. Being fearless did not mean she no longer had fears. It meant she had the strength to face them every day through her art.

7. You can find success with any background

Kusama came from a reserved Japanese family and had somewhat of a traumatic upbringing. She’s dealt with racism and sexism in her career. She’s also dealt with severe mental health issues and chooses to live in a mental health facility. Despite her mother tearing up her drawings and struggling in New York to make it, Kusama has fought to create and live her entire life through art. Nothing stopped her because creating art was survival to her.

8. Don’t stop trying

There were many times Kusama could have given up on her art: when no one came to her first art show in Japan; after her work was stolen by her peers; or even in the 70s when she admitted herself to the psychiatric hospital. And even though she considered giving up and tried a few times, ultimately art is what kept her surviving. At 70 or 80 or 90 – Kusama doesn’t need to keep making art. She has fame and fortune. But she keeps on going because art is Kusama and Kusama is art. 

Favourite Works

 

Infinity Mirrors

 

Paintings & Sculptures 

Room Full of Stickers

Quotes

 

“More and more, I think about the role of the arts, and as an artist, I think that it’s important that I share the love and peace.”

“I have a flood of ideas in my mind. I just follow my vision.”

“Since my childhood, I have always made works with polka dots. Earth, moon, sun and human beings all represent dots; a single particle among billions.”

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