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Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto

Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto

Mint Museum UPTOWN Mar 02-May 26  /  Internationally renowned artist Motoi Yamamoto has forged a connection with salt, a traditional symbol for purification.

Exhibition Highlights

About The Exhibition

Motoi Yamamoto is an internationally renowned artist who calls his native Japan home. Motoi is known for working with salt, often in the form of temporary, intricate, large-scale installations. Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture, is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses to ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Motoi forged a connection to the substance while mourning the death of his sister, at the age of twenty-four, from brain cancer, and began to create art out of salt in an effort to preserve his memories of her. His art radiates an intense beauty and tranquility, but also conveys something ineffable, painful, and endless.

“Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings,” Motoi has said. “What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.”

Read more here about the artist's plans to travel to Mint Museum Uptown for a site-specific salt installation from February 18-March 2, and here for information about the plans for a community dismantling of the work on March 3.

Motoi Yamamoto was born in Onomichi, Hiroshima in 1966 and received his B.A. from Kanazawa College of Art in 1995. He has exhibited his award-winning creations in such cities as Athens, Cologne, Jerusalem, Mexico City, Seoul, Tokyo, and Toulouse. He was awarded the Philip Morris Art Award in 2002 as well as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2003.

The exhibition also features a series of recent drawings, photography, sketchbooks, a video about the artist, and a 170-page color catalogue documenting twelve years of the artist’s saltworks around the world. The catalogue includes essays by Mark Sloan, director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute, and Mark Kurlansky, author of the New York Times best seller Salt: A World History. Learning and engagement programming for the exhibition is generously underwritten by the Mint Museum Auxiliary.


Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto is presented to the community with generous support from Sapporo USA Inc. and Tryon distributing. Organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts.