Artist Speaker: Yuken Teruya

By Virginia Girard

HAMS is excited to announce Yuken Teruya will be speaking at the Johnson on April 30th. Born in 1973 in Okinawa, Teruya’s work speaks to his life experiences and the history of his homeland. His ability to create exquisite pieces of art from ordinary objects and materials reflects his appreciation for subtle beauty. The incredibly diversity of Teruya’s projects reflect his ability to constantly innovate and propel his vision forward, while maintaining a core set of values that runs through every series. A prominent theme in his work is the juxtaposition of contemporary consumer culture alongside traditional craft techniques. Notice—Breakfast Street is an example of the works Teruya is best known for, as the intricate tree shapes cut into disposable paper bags addressed the beauty of the resources we tend to take for granted. The series Notice—Forest encouraged viewers to see unique natural beauty in mass produced objects.

Many of Teruya’s more recent projects address Okinawa’s past and present more overtly, including a current exhibition in Berlin, “2014-2015 on Okinawa.” The show combines Teruya’s current works with artifacts from WWII and objects from Okinawa. The narrative is intended to link Okinawa’s history with a tangible present, and the works are displayed as suspended, or floating in their cases to further engage the viewer.

The beauty in Teruya’s projects lies in their combination of aesthetic charm and accessibility. Regardless of background, any viewer may identify with the strength one finds in reaching into the past and maintaining tradition. One of Teruya’s current video installations, “Features,” is part of the touring group exhibition “Go Betweens: The World Seen through Children.” Two separate video projections combined with sounds speak to a current crisis in Okinawa between the development of American military facilities and villagers’ attempts to protect a forest home to an immense biodiversity. True to Teruya’s work, the artist does not shy away from contemporary issues with a complicated past.


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