The New York Art Scene is famously a challenging world to break into for new comers. However, at the WAH Center’s JART exhibition, new comers were the stars of the show. The WAH Center’s JART exhibition showcased Japanese emerging artists from Tokyo and New York. This annual show, held in March, was curated by Hiro Shiraishi of Pepper’s Project features various media, including painting, sculpture, print making, contemporary craft making, installation and animation. The JART exhibition, dedicated to uniting young, new wave, Japanese local and international artists of all disciplines, was shown from February 2nd to March 8th.
Installation View of 2nd Floor Gallery
These artists utilized all the spaces of the WAH Center building, even in the restrooms, to display their work. Artworks were exhibited in many unconventional places, which showcased the beautiful interior spaces of the WAH Center. Traditionally, galleries showcase paintings on the walls and sculptures on the floor or on simple pedestals, however the WAH Center’s fresh display of art works in unconventional spaces added an intriguing element to the exhibition. The entire building was activated; animation presentations in the first floor hall, expressive figure drawings in the restrooms, and line drawing installations in the stairwells, making viewing an interactive experience.
Installation View of Work by Kei Yasuda, Main Stairwell
This JART show was my first WAH Center show, and I was very much inspired by both the curator’s choices and the artists’ work. The combinations of artworks were complimentary, despite the great borders between the artists and their styles.
Each artist’s work is their view on a different subject, their attempt to bring attention to what they are passionate about. From today’s ecological environment in China to people’s memories and life events, Japanese artists shared what inspired their pieces for the JART show. In spite of their differences and various techniques of making art, all the artists were linked by the same goal, their diversified ideas peacefully met at the WAH Center. Each artist had very different messages to express, from wanting to celebrate the human spirit like Natsuko Hattori, to focusing on raw sensations and emotions like Kenichi Nakajima, or to examining the relationship between humans and nature. One of the New York artists, Mitsutaka Konagi, admits that his pieces do not carry a special message for the audience and he is more focused on making what feels honest and right to him. Further, Yuko K. admits to sharing a personal message through the materials as she uses the strength of the color white in painting and mixed media. Alternatively, Aya Ando’s art is a way of looking for answers. She believes there is something called a “sense of touch”. Her artwork is an attempt to show what we cannot see but we can feel.
Installation View of Work by Kaori Hamada, 2nd Floor Gallery
The pieces are still open for interpretation and I believe everyone can find something inspiring in them, even if it is not what the artist intended to communicate. Presenting pieces by over 30 young Japanese artists, the JART show was a combination of extremely diversified artwork bridged together for a powerful exhibition. The exhibit was an international experience and an invaluable opportunity to experience a collaboration of contemporary art by emerging artists.
Audrey Meehan, in collaboration with Konstancja Lowry, Contributing Writers to the WAH Center Blog.