Since Aug. 31, members at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art have been slipping into an immersive new installation in the Bentonville museum's Contemporary Art Gallery. The 20-by-20 foot enclosed room opened to the public Oct. 2, so now everyone has a chance to see what Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room" is all about.
Entering through a narrow door on one wall of the room, visitors come in to a space where noise from outside the walls is quieted and no external light pierces the dim setting. Kusama uses mirrors, light and repetitive patterns to create a kaleidoscopic environment. This one, "Infinity Mirrored Room -- My Heart is Dancing into the Universe," surrounds the visitor with dotted paper lanterns that continually change color during the viewing.
‘Infinity Mirrored Room — My Heart is Dancing into the Universe’
WHEN — On permanent display
WHERE — Contemporary Gallery at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville
COST — Free
INFO — 418-5700, crystalbridges.org
FYI — Accessing the room is free, but a ticket for a designated 15-minute time slot is required. Day-of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis by phone, online or at Guest Services in the main lobby. Tickets may be reserved in advance for $1.
"The biggest thing to get from this is that it is an experience, and this is not just an artwork you look at," shares assistant curator Alejo Benedetti. "This is an artwork that is supposed to transport you. It's supposed to give you very particular sensations in terms of being a little disoriented, but also just awestruck by this experience."
As hinted in the name, the mirrors create the illusion of an infinitely expanding space -- one the viewer becomes part of by necessity because they, too, are reflected in the mirrors, Benedetti says.
"So you become very aware of this great expanse, but also that you are part of that -- maybe a small part, but you're part of it."
Over her career, Kusama has created more than 20 unique rooms. Many of them do typically travel for temporary exhibitions, Benedetti reveals of the 90-year-old Japanese artist's works. That makes Crystal Bridges' ownership of the piece as part of the permanent collection a unique acquisition.
"She's certainly a major artist, and she's an artist that we already have in our collection. I think it was a perfect opportunity."
In 2018, the museum acquired Kusama's small-by-comparison sculpture, "Flowers That Bloom Now," which resides in the North Forest. But adding the Infinity Room to the Contemporary Gallery instigated an exciting opportunity to consider re-imagining a portion of the space.
"It's a little bit more thematic for the last half," Benedetti says of the intentional changes. Before the redesign, the gallery's flow was more chronological. Now, he shares, the experience in the Infinity Room informs what guests will see in the rest of the gallery space. "Folks can walk into the room, they can experience its abstraction, its repetition. And then when they move into the very next section, it's focused on abstraction, but abstraction in many cases with this sort of repetition. We did that very intentionally to try to continue that, so we're not just plunking this really spectacular room in the middle of a place that doesn't make sense."
What follows is a section concentrated around figuration, but figuration from artists influenced by abstraction, Benedetti illustrates. And the redesigned portion of the gallery is filled with additional thrilling acquisitions that further the museum's mission of diversifying its presentation of American art and the American experience.
In this final section, guests are greeted by pieces by contemporary artists of color and female artists who are pushing the boundaries of representation, among them Jordan Casteel, Loie Hollowell, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Emma Amos, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Kehinde Wiley, who is the first black artist to paint an official portrait of a president for the National Portrait Gallery with his 2018 portrait of former President Barack Obama.
NAN What's Up on 10/13/2019
Print Headline: Magic Of Mirrors