Asia Society Texas Center Opens New Installation "Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form" by Artist Miya Ando in Texas Debut

Exhibition Showcases the Transformation of Water, Light, Wood, and Metal; Focuses on the Heart Sutra, Buddhism’s Revered Text

Miya Ando
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HOUSTON, November 12, 2019 — Asia Society Texas Center (ASTC) welcomes the multi-media artist Miya Ando for her ASTC debut in her installation exhibition Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form, a title which evokes Buddhism’s cherished text, the Heart Sutra. In addition to water and light, the exhibition makes use of wood and metal that Ando has altered by natural physical treatment such as sculpting and charring, as well as by chemical and electrical processes. Ando herself is installing the works throughout the Grand Hall, the North Gallery, and just outside the Louisa Studio Sarofim Gallery, in a site-specific response to Yoshio Taniguchi’s architecture. She will also be featured in an Artist Talk the day the exhibition opens, on November 16.

Ando’s exhibition is the latest in a series of site-specific installations that have been created in dialogue with ASTC’s building, by world-renowned Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. (The most recent example was 2018-2019’s eponymously named Ayomi Yoshida.) Ando has particular affinity for Taniguchi’s work, given her studies and her time in Japan. Buddhism’s impact on her worldview — she spent part of her childhood in a Buddhist temple in Japan — also inform the exhibition.

The Heart Sutra, from which the exhibition title is derived, is an ancient Buddhist text. The earliest written version dates from the 7th century CE and it is commonly considered the most recited and studied Buddhist scripture. It addresses the “Two Truths” doctrine, which teaches that all things are devoid of an unchanging essence, that everything changes and is in constant flux; nothing is permanent. It is particularly relevant to this exhibition as the elements Ando utilizes have been altered and appear unlike their original state, emphasizing the lack of adherence to a typical or “expected” form.

“Artists such as Miya Ando demonstrate the continuum in Asian art history and culture that continues to influence artists working today. Her study of early Buddhist texts has had a demonstrated impact on her practice, and the works featured in the exhibition will allow visitors to engage with ideas of temporality, impermanence, and interdependence,” says Bridget Bray, ASTC’s Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions. “In a time of increasingly digital and cursory experiences, she invites visitors to slow down and deeply consider the objects on view as an invitation to reflect on and reframe their experiences of their surroundings.”

Ando’s work, new to Texans, has been seen all over the world, from Venice to Singapore to Munich to Hong Kong. Last year, during Miami Art Week, she wrapped all four sides of the historic 11-story Versailles building in panels featuring sunset-lit clouds, in another homage to the temporal nature of all things. Her work varies in scale, from works small enough to hold to installations spanning buildings and filling public parks. She works bi-coastally, at studios in NYC and Los Angeles.

Ando’s first exhibition at Asia Society appears throughout both floors of the building and is free to all visitors.

Fast Facts

  • Exhibition dates: Saturday, November 16, 2019 — Sunday, March 29, 2020
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Related Program

  • Artist Talk featuring Miya Ando: Saturday, November 16, 1:15 p.m. Reception, 2 p.m. Artist Talk | Reception: Free | Artist Talk: Free for Members, $5 Students and Seniors, $8 Nonmembers

About the Artist

Miya Ando is an American artist who lives and works between New York City and Los Angeles. Ando’s work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions including The Noguchi Museum (New York), SCAD Museum (Savannah College of Art and Design), Savannah, GA; The Nassau County Museum and The American University Museum. Her work has also been included in extensive group exhibitions at institutions including LACMA, Los Angeles, CA; Bronx Museum, New York, NY; and Queens Museum of Art, New York, NY. Her work is included in the public collections of LACMA and The Detroit Institute of Art (DIA), The Luft Museum (Germany), as well as in numerous private collections. Ando has been the recipient of several grants and awards including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant Award and commission for The Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, CT. She exhibited her work in Frontiers Reimagined during the 56th Venice Biennale.

About Asia Society Texas Center

With 14 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the rest of the world. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.

This exhibition is organized by USC Pacific Asia Museum, in collaboration with Asia Society Texas Center. Exhibitions at Asia Society Texas Center are presented by Nancy C. Allen and Leslie and Brad Bucher. The Japan Series is presented by Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas).  Major support comes from Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen and Mary Lawrence Porter, as well as The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston Endowment, and the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Clayton Fund, Japan Foundation New York, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Wortham Foundation, Inc., the Franci Neely Foundation, Olive Jenney, Nanako and Dale Tingleaf, and Ann Wales. Additional support comes from United Airlines and The Southmore. Funding is also provided through contributions from the Exhibitions Patron Circle, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas Center.

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