A ‘Floating Garden’ of salt to take shape at Mint Museum Uptown

Community is invited to watch artist Motoi Yamamoto create a temporary large-scale saltwork at the Mint from February 18-March 2, then help dismantle it on March 3

The public is invited to take part in an unprecedented event at Mint Museum Uptown as internationally renowned artist Motoi Yamamoto visits to create a temporary large-scale work out of salt in the building’s atrium over two weeks in late February.

Motoi, who calls his native Japan home, will be in the Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium creating his saltwork, to be entitled Floating Garden, from February 18 through March 1 and the public is invited to watch him at work during regular museum hours. Atrium access is free, although visitors must pay admission to experience the saltwork from higher vantage points within the five-story space. The museum is normally closed on Mondays but will also grant free public access to the atrium level on February 18 and 25 (no other areas of the museum will be open those days). The museum will also continue to grant free access to all levels each Tuesday from 5-9 p.m., the Mint’s normally scheduled free hours. The work will be celebrated at a “First Look Friday” on March 1 at 6:30 p.m., remain on view March 2, and then be dismantled on March 3.

“Japanese installation artist Motoi Yamamoto’s residency here in Charlotte is another opportunity for the Mint to present to our community innovative works by an international roster of artists,” said Dr. Kathleen V. Jameson, President & CEO of the Mint.

“In Japan, salt is a symbol of purification and is also used in funeral ceremonies. Motoi’s remarkable body of work was born out his grief following the death of his young sister in 1994 from brain cancer. It was at that point Motoi adopted salt as his primary medium and for almost twenty years, he has developed a unique artistic expression that celebrates both life and remembrance,” said Brad Thomas, the Mint’s curator of modern & contemporary art. “It is not until you experience Motoi and his work in person that the true impact of his singular, yet universal, journey is felt.”

The “First Look Friday” from 6:30-11 p.m. on March 1 is free to Mint members and tickets are available to non-members for $15 per person. The night will also celebrate the openings of two other special exhibitions at Mint Museum Uptown, F.O.O.D. (Food, Objects, Objectives, Design) and Sociales: Débora Arango Arrives Today, as well as including a multicultural “Mint to Move” dance party.

The community is also invited to help dismantle the saltwork at a special ceremony on March 3 at 1:30 p.m. Visitors may collect salt in specially designed containers to be released back into a body of water so that it may re-enter the natural cycle. Participants are encouraged to document their own personal ceremonies and upload images to Motoi’s website at www.motoi.biz, and the Mint’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/mintmuseum.

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 saltwork’s creation leads up to the opening of the exhibition Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto, which will be on view in the Modern & Contemporary galleries of Mint Museum Uptown from March 2 through May 26. The exhibition features a smaller saltwork along with a series of recent works on paper, mixed media works, 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 of Contemporary Art at College of Charleston School of the Arts, and Mark Kurlansky, author of the New York Times best seller Salt: A World History.

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. Learning and engagement programming for the exhibition is generously underwritten by the Mint Museum Auxiliary.

Media photographers are welcomed to capture Motoi at work on the installation at the Mint. Contact Leigh Dyer at leigh.dyer@mintmuseum.org to schedule a time. Images of Motoi’s works are also available upon request.

SAVE THE DATE: Members of the media are invited to see the Mint’s three new exhibitions, Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto, F.O.O.D. (Food, Objects, Objectives, Design), and Sociales:Débora Arango Arrives Today at a special media preview on Friday, March 1 at 10 a.m. at Mint Museum Uptown. RSVP to leigh.dyer@mintmuseum.org.

Above image: Artist Motoi Yamamoto making Floating Garden in the Morrison Atrium at Mint Museum Uptown on February 18, 2013. Photo: James Martin.