Miya Ando: the serene art

Her artworks reflect the transience of nature and time in a solidly industrialized world.
By Joyce Najm
September 12, 2016

With her serene and meditative works, post-minimalist artist Miya Ando currently based in New York, pays tribute to traditional know-how of her ancestors. She comes from a family of sword blacksmiths from Bizen Province. Ando spent part of her childhood surrounded by Buddhist priests in a temple in Okayama, southern Japan, and then moved to Northern California. She has a degree in  Eastern Asia studies from the University of California in Berkeley and pursued her interest in Asian culture by taking up Buddhist art and iconography at Yale University. Her artworks that combine the ephemeral and the permanent, technique and creativity, metals and delicate colors reflect the transience of nature and time, in a solidly industrialized world.


You are half Japanese, half Russian. Tell us a bit about your upbringing/Buddhism background and how it has influenced your work.

I spent part of my childhood in a Buddhist temple in Japan where my grandfather was head priest. Being of mixed race and growing up bilingually has made me interested in visual vocabulary that transcends specific cultures. I'm interested in inter-connectivity. Buddhist philosophy informs my work.


How would you describe your paintings? 



What drew you to work with permanent/reflective materials such as metals? 

No material reflects and redirects light the way that metal does. I am interested in the language of fleeting and shifting light as a way to discuss one’s relationship to time. The mutable nature of metal surfaces interests me as it allows an investigation of perception.


Tell us about the unusual technique/art making process behind your paintings. 

I employ a number of techniques which transform the surfaces of my paintings. I've been interested in metallurgical alchemy for many years.


What usually inspires you to create?

My work comes from an introspective place.


And which artists have influenced your work? 

Agnes Martin, Lee Ufan, James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Mariko Mori, 


Do you plan on exposing your artwork in Lebanon? 

Yes, I hope to in the near future.


What’s your favorite hobby/pastime? 

I love plants and growing things, but when I have free time my main priority is to spend time with my family.


What are the three items you can’t live without? 

I can live without most things.


Any future plans? 

 I have a solo exhibition in Los Angeles in September called 'Ginga' (The Galaxy or Silver River in the sky) and Mandala at the Japanese word for Galaxy is written 'the silver river in the sky', I have also made mandalas which are Buddhist representations of the universe.

I also have a solo exhibition in September in Seattle at Winston Wachter, this one is called 'Tasogare' (Twilight the time of moonlight, starlight and sunlight).