What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

September 28, 2023

Miya Ando
Sky Atlas
Wilding Cran Gallery
September 2 - October 21, 2023

Miya Ando

The sky in southern California is a deep shade of blue or a subtle gradient transitioning from a lighter blue to gray to orange as it approaches the horizon. There may be billowing clouds or a canopy of small dots of white overhead, but for the most part the expansive sky gives the impression of being monochromatic. On days when the sunrise or the sunset fills the sky with fiery reds, oranges and yellows it is a cause for celebration and reflection.

Miya Ando is a New York-based, Japanese American artist who looks at the natural world from scientific, philosophical and visual perspectives. She is interested in the changing seasons, the cycles of the moon, as well as the different ways clouds fill the sky. She approaches her art making (as a press release states) "from a learned perspective that mixes Eastern and Western cultures through the lens of natural phenomena ... She harnessed the Japanese notion of mono no aware – an innate sensitivity to the fleeting nature of our world." In Sky Atlas, she presents a series of luminescent works— ink printed on aluminum composite— resulting in seductive and reflective surfaces that share a kinship with Tintypes and Daguerrotypes.

It is hard not to be transfixed by the works in Ando's Lunar Spring series. On view are three grids of twelve-inch square photographs presented in rows resembling the shape of calendars for February, March and April of 2023. Shooting one image per day of the sky outside her New York apartment, these pieces track the slight variations of clouds against the sky, which appears blue, gray, orange or purple depending on the time of day the image was shot as well as the light and angle of view in the gallery. March 1-31 2023 Cloud Grid With Lunar Phases NYC consists of 31 different photographs— all images of the sky with different cloud variations — where the darker toned images represent specific phases of the moon. When looking at the the grid, it is interesting to think about how the images track time and the ever changing nuances of the sky.

In addition to the three calendar grids, Ando also presents numerous individual large and small scale photographs from her Unkai (A Sea of Clouds) and Kumo (Cloud) series. Each of these images is titled by the time and date they were created. What is most striking about them is their reflective surfaces and luminescence— they capture the impermanence of light and represent a single moment from nature's ever changing continuum. At first glance, an image such as Kumo (Cloud) 07.27.2022 1:01 PM NYC, 2022 appears to be just a picture of semi-translucent white clouds on a silvery (aluminum) surface, but from different vantage points parts of the image reflect blue from outside the gallery window or a golden yellow from the interior illumination. This infuses the image with a sense of both depth and movement. 11.2 Cloud Study (2023) at just 12.25 x 12.25 inches oscillates between silver, white and light orange, the texture of the sky fusing with the grain of the aluminum.

While one might think of the works of Califonia Light and Space artists when regarding Ando's work, one reading of Sky Atlas could be that it is simply an exhibition of images of sublime sky-scapes. But Ando's practice is more than a formal exploration. She fuses observation with process, drawing from East and West, her knowledge of East Asian Studies, as well as metalsmithing (she apprenticed with a master metalsmith in Japan) to create unique works that are about perception and the ephemeral nature of the natural world. These seductive and captivating images leave a long-lasting impression while also inviting viewers to look up and contemplate the vastness of the sky and the clouds above.