Yu-Whuan, a New York and Kyoto based artist, often works with nature and has recently completed a month long art project (Sept-Oct 2021) throughout the northern part of Central Park, exhibiting daily installations, and leading public workshops and art process demonstrations, made possible by the New York City Artist Corps. This meeting of culture and nature, materials and environment permeates much of her work (sculpture, paintings, drawings, photographs, installations).
Yu-Whuan studied contemporary painting and sculpture, and further completed an independent art research study project, at the Kyoto University of Education. She studied sculpture with Yamazaki Masayoshi and Kishiro Yoshiji, and independently with the sculptor Yamamoto Kakuzi, as well as painting with Shimamoto Shozo, a pioneer of Gutai. Shozo’s example, for Yu-Whuan, confirmed an attitude of adventure in her art, particularly when, instead of drawing on a canvas, Shozo proceeded to draw on his own head.
Yu-Whuan has had major public exhibitions in Japan and the U.S., as well as nineteen solo shows and many group shows, including the New York Historical Society, Taller Boricua Gallery and Pleiades Gallery in New York, and the ArtReach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Her shows in Japan have included a Space31 Gallery pairing, in a two artist solo show in Kobe, with Sadaharu Horio. In addition to three invitational gallery commemoration shows in these two countries, she also has been twice exhibited by the BIAMT / International Biennial of Miniature Arts Timisoara in Romania.
Yu-Whuan’s work has been curated several times as part of outdoor exhibitions in the Uji Botanical Garden. Her work also has been selected for exhibition in the Hira Museum, and included in the Osaka Sculptors Association’s Thirty Year Commemoration Exhibition in the Osaka Modern Art Museum. She was invited by The Ga-un Sculpture Group for a special guest solo exhibit in the Kyoto Art Museum, and had a two artist solo show with Mori Shigeru at the Ando Tadao Architecture Ayabe City Plaza. Her outdoor exhibitions have included The Global Warming Prevention in Kyoto Convention celebration, as well as participation in a collaborative project in the Queens Botanical Garden. Other exhibitions in Queens have included group shows for the 2020 and 2022 Lunar New Years at Flushing Town Hall and a 2021 solo show at The Garage Art Center.
Yu-Whuan’s sculpture “A Letter for Chirac” was the subject of a Kyoto television special report, artist interview, and studio visit. Her work has been reviewed and mentioned in newspapers in Japan and art magazines in the U.S. She received a “MURASAKI” award for the 47th Kyoto Exposition, and is a member of the Kyoto Sculptor Association. She served as a director of design in Taiwan and as the director of PhilosophyBox gallery in New York. She currently is preparing new PhilosophyBox projects.
SH: You have 108 drawings. That is a very significant number in various traditions of meditation. I know a Yoga teacher who led her group in 108 sun salutations on the Summer Solstice. And certain Buddhists have 108 prayer beads with which they meditate. Tell me about your choice of that number for your work in this show.
YW: When you first mentioned 108 drawings, I knew immediately it was time for me to work on it. I already knew I was going to do a lot, even more than 108. But 108 is not just a number; it is a number that fits my process right now, my process of opening up colorful desire and honoring my heart. In thinking about it, I welcomed this 108 process as a kind of “keeping” or “cleaning,” a “retaining” or a “throwing away.”
... 108 is not a project about the colors, shapes or styles. Nor is it about letting desires loose. To borrow from Thoreau, it is a project “to set all well afloat.” This is important. It is a project about taking it all and writing it down, sending it out into the world, like a message well afloat, like the Japanese temple bell ringing 108 times at the end of the year. 108 worldly desires. The normal idea is to clean them. But my project is about sending them out to be whole, afloat, flying, open, transformed. The bell rings, then rings again, and keeps ringing. It is a kind of constant.
I am not finished yet.