By Penelope Morris

On Saturday, February 11, Japanese Plus students went to the Hirshhorn Museum to view an exhibit on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. For me personally, it was the second time I’d seen Kusama’s work, and it was an amazing experience to revisit.

Upon walking into the gallery, visitors are greeted with several panels of information about Kusama’s life – from her psychological condition, to her time in the United States, to her current global recognition. Then, you enter a room dominated by a gigantic yellow pumpkin covered in black polka dots – one of Kusama’s most well-known works. Visitors are allowed to walk around the pumpkin and observe the intricate work up close.

One of the most amazing parts of the exhibit for me were Kusama’s two mirror rooms. Although these chambers appear small from the outside, when you enter the space seems to go on forever, thanks to the mirrors covering all four walls plus the ceilings and floors. The first room is reminiscent of a psychedelic garden, with the floor covered in white-with-red-dots abstract cloth forms. The second room reminded me of a spacescape into which Kusama had again incorporated her signature polka dots – this time in the form of luminescent neon circles on spheres of varying sizes floating in an otherwise pitch-dark room.

Exiting the exhibit, I felt calm, despite the bright, busy nature of Kusama’s work. I found that her use of space and recurring patterns lulls the mind into a trance. It was a pleasure to experience the work of this amazing artist again.

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