yayoi kusama’s art-medicine

Yayoi Kusama painting

In The Art of the Flame-Out, Carl Swanson writes about visionary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s return to the New York Art scene after 40 years in a mental-hospital exile.

But whatever you make of her retreat into a psych ward, her mantra was always “self-obliteration”—to lose herself in the work, or to the work, to save herself. “I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art,” she wrote in her autobiography. Kusama calls her work “art-medicine”—for both herself and the rest of us. “I wanted to start a revolution, using art to build the sort of society I myself envisioned.”

The concept of art-medicine is a powerful one. For us ART = MAKING = CREATIVITY  and, no matter what form it takes, it is a powerful medicine. When the shit is hitting the fan, there is that: creating something, anyway, despite all that’s difficult and painful.

It made us think of our friend and frequent contributor Susan Dworski engaging her family carving eraser stamps while camped in her studio after their house burned down…

and of Sprinting Towards the End, a recent New York Times Op-Ed about the new phenomenon of writers, most notably Christopher Hitchens and Roger Ebert,  writing “through”, inspite of, and about their terminal cancers. Words transform. The power to create antidotes loss: something comes from nothing.

…So, Kusama’s obsessive art of the polka-dot medicine transformed our view:

«…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement… Polka dots are a way to infinity.

It was SHE that created the interactive installation we posted a while back:  a totally white room as a palette for visiting children to embellish as they pleased with colored dot stickers. The results of her brilliant exercise in spontaneous design stunning transformation of the white room…

YAYOI KUSAMA’'s sticker room

yayoi kusama

Related posts: sublime sticker-decorated room
tom ashcraft’s sign: cures arise, remedies appear

3 Responses to yayoi kusama’s art-medicine

  1. sophie flanagan 10.03.2014 at 8:34am #


    Which page is the art medicine quote on in Kusama’s autobiography?

    Kind regards

  2. Sally 10.05.2014 at 8:44pm #

    The quote came from an article that reference’s Kusama’s autobiography: The Art of the Flame-Out. I’m sorry that I haven’t read the real thing to know where you will find the quote.

  3. Karen 06.03.2015 at 1:29pm #

    Creativity is powerful! I cannot wait to read her autobiography.

Leave A Comment

subscribing = loving

If the Improvised Life is a source of creativity, inspiration, ideas and change in your daily life, please consider becoming a Friend with Benefits. A little bit goes a long way towards helping us publish fresh AD-FREE content each day.