Nov 3rd 2017

Mayumi Lake: Unison

@ Chicago Artists Coalition

217 N Carpenter St, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, November 3rd, from 6PM - 9PM

On view through Wednesday, December 31st

The Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to present “Unison,” a BOLT Residency exhibition featuring new work by Mayumi Lake.


In Ancient Japan, when political chaos and a series of natural disasters occurred, the people believed the last days of this world were near. To calm their fear and despair, they filled sacred prayer sites with bright and bold mythical flowers, believed to bloom through the afterlife. Those flowers were called Housouge (pronounced Housou-gae). The bigger the fear and despair, the more colorful and immense the flowers.

Mayumi Lake’s new series of sculptural photographic work, “Unison,” feature her interpretation of the mythic heavenly flowers or Housouge. The blossoms are constructed from motifs scanned directly from girls’ vintage kimonos. They are both cut and then reassembled by hand, and include toy parts, plastic flowers, imitation gold, sequins, and various other objects that recall Lake’s own childhood in Japan. The use of the kimono goes beyond being just a reference to her cultural heritage. It signifies a dying cultural tradition, as the use of this traditional garb has all but disappeared and is relegated to a symbolic gesture reserved for special and rare occasions. Lake’s choice of objects and toys directly references her own childhood, which was saturated with objects that alluded to American pop culture. Elements of the two opposing cultures are intertwined, creating a strained and unique harmony that is illuminated through the constructed blossoms.

The ominous mood and the idea of Mono-no-Aware (the awareness of impermanence) has been cast onto Lake’s recent works, always hinting at reincarnation and its association with death. As a natural progression, Lake’s focus has shifted to expand and decipher the life after death. The blossoms that are threaded throughout “Unison” represent a vision of Bardo, where the soul floats between life after death, a state similar to the Western idea of purgatory. This in-between state echoes her own existence – a cultural hybrid somewhere between East and West.

This exhibition has been made possible with a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Faculty Enrichment grant from School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Mayumi Lake (b. Osaka, Japan) is a Chicago-based artist. Her photography and video work delve into childhood and pubescent dreams, phobia and desires. She employs herself and others as her models, as well as dolls, toys, weapons, vintage clothes, and altered landscape as her props. Mayumi has exhibited nationally and internationally at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, Asia Society, Art in General, Artists Space, New York; Midwest Museum of Contemporaty Art, Carmel; Fotograpie Forum International, Frankfurt; Cornelius Pleser Galerie, Munich; Galleria PaciArte, Brescia; FOTOAMERICA, Santiago; Witzenhausen Gallery, Amsterdam; O Gallery, Tokyo. Mayumi received her BFA with a focus in Photography and Filmmaking, and MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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