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Stepping into the brain of the artist Yayoi Kusama is a world of color, light, and inspiration. The art she creates is deeply rooted in abstract expressionism and mental health. This can be seen reflected by immersing yourself in her exhibits. Giving one a relaxing effect beneath the bright lights, flashing colors, and mirrors. Kusama describes: “These rooms reflect all of her elements: her obsessions, her accumulations, her infinite repetitions. And it’s all very bodily and immersive,” (Fifeild, 2017).
She started using her visual language of painting with polka dots and nets as motifs at the early age of 10 to deal with mental health problems ( Chappo, 2015).While still a child, she began experiencing “visual and aural hallucinations.” The first time she saw a pumpkin, she imagined that it was speaking to her (Fifeild,2017). The young Kusama dealt with her hallucinations by drawing, and by drawing repetitive patterns to “obliterate” the thoughts in her head. Even at that young age, art became a form of therapy, what she would later call “art-medicine.” (Fifeild,2017).
1977, Ms. Kusama has lived by choice in a mental hospital in Tokyo due to nervous disorders and hallucinations ( Chappo, 2015). She continues to paint and create to this day in her artist studio across the street from the psychiatric hospital ( Chappo, 2015). Her studio is packed with new paintings, vibrant works full of tiny dots. They’re all about what Kusama calls “self-obliteration” — the endless repetition silencing the noise in her head (Fifeild, 2017).
I personally admire her a lot, it takes great courage to be open and honest about who you are and where you have come from. Kusmams art is meant to take you into her head and feel the compulsions she experience on an everyday basis. She is a trailblazer, a freight train of magic.
Allison Peters is an MSW Intern from USC Suzanne Dworak Peck School of Social Work. You can find more of her work on https://artsysocialworker.wordpress.com