In The Art of the Flame-Out, Carl Swanson writes about visionary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s return to the New York Art scene after 40 years in a mental-hospital exile.
But whatever you make of her retreat into a psych ward, her mantra was always “self-obliteration”—to lose herself in the work, or to the work, to save herself. “I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art,” she wrote in her autobiography. Kusama calls her work “art-medicine”—for both herself and the rest of us. “I wanted to start a revolution, using art to build the sort of society I myself envisioned.”
The concept of art-medicine is a powerful one. For us ART = MAKING = CREATIVITY and, no matter what form it takes, it is a powerful medicine. When the shit is hitting the fan, there is that: creating something, anyway, despite all that’s difficult and painful.
It made us think of our friend and frequent contributor Susan Dworski engaging her family carving eraser stamps while camped in her studio after their house burned down…
and of Sprinting Towards the End, a recent New York Times Op-Ed about the new phenomenon of writers, most notably Christopher Hitchens and Roger Ebert, writing “through”, inspite of, and about their terminal cancers. Words transform. The power to create antidotes loss: something comes from nothing.
…So, Kusama’s obsessive art of the polka-dot medicine transformed our view:
«…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement… Polka dots are a way to infinity.
It was SHE that created the interactive installation we posted a while back: a totally white room as a palette for visiting children to embellish as they pleased with colored dot stickers. The results of her brilliant exercise in spontaneous design stunning transformation of the white room…
Related posts: sublime sticker-decorated room
tom ashcraft’s sign: cures arise, remedies appear
3 replies on “yayoi kusama’s art-medicine”
Which page is the art medicine quote on in Kusama’s autobiography?
The quote came from an article that reference’s Kusama’s autobiography: The Art of the Flame-Out. I’m sorry that I haven’t read the real thing to know where you will find the quote.
Creativity is powerful! I cannot wait to read her autobiography.