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Enrico Isamu Oyama: Guest Blogger

I first met Aileen when she visited my project Aeromural at the Clocktower Gallery in 2013 with our friend and his baby.

The curator Aileen June Wang and I first met in New York in 2013 when she came to see my project Aeromural at Clocktower Gallery in New York City’s TriBeCa district. Since then, we have become really good friends. We had many  conversations about doing a project together. The first idea she raised was a two-person show with Japanese American visual artist Alex Kukai Shinohara. I was excited. She tried to find a venue for the show but it was not easy.

Then, Aileen was invited by a gallerist to propose a mural for a car wash with a large wall at the corner of West 24th Street and 10th Avenue in Chelsea, New York City’s gallery district. She and I worked on a proposal with a mock-up of the mural for the owner, but this didn’t happen neither.

The car wash building in the gallery district of New York City, for which we proposed a mural in 2014.

Aileen was invited by the NARS Foundation in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to curate a group show that would have included my works, but soon after, she was offered the job as associate curator at the Beach Museum of Art. I remember the moment when she told me about her new job. We were having lunch together near the Museum of Modern Art. I was excited for her new journey.

Aileen’s farewell party in 2015 at the Brooklyn Museum’s Art Off the Wall event, arranged by Sharon Matt Atkins, Director of Curatorial Affairs (fifth from the left). Other participants from left to right: New York artist Babs Reingold; New York artist Margaret Murphy; Curator Midori Yoshimoto, who introduced Aileen to me; my wife Shihori and I.

From August to October of 2015, I did a residency program at Chelsea College of Arts in London. Right after I returned to New York in November, I got an email from Aileen when I was in Strand Book Store near Union Square to find some nice second-hand books on New York Writing Culture. I noticed right away that this message is about something special. Aileen was talking about a possibility of my solo show at the Beach Museum of Art. Somehow, I had a good feeling that this time it was going to happen. After a while, she confirmed that the show was officially on the museum’s calendar.

Our productive conversation and a few trials of doing a project together over the past few years resulted in something really exciting. I deeply thank Aileen for giving such an amazing opportunity to a young artist like me and everyone at the Beach Museum for their effort and labor to make this exhibition happen.

The sound installation piece Aeromural, which was the opportunity for me to meet Aileen four years ago, will be on display at the Mark A. Chapman Gallery, Willard Hall, Kansas State University as a part of my exhibition “Ubiquitous: Enrico Isamu Ōyama.” I hope everyone who visits the show can enjoy it more from knowing this little back story.

Oyama’s exhibition Ubiquitous: Enrico Isamu Oyama is on display in the Hyle Family Gallery at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art from August 15 – December 23, 2017.

Youth Making a Difference in Environmental Concerns        

This is one in a series of blog posts about sustainability in conjunction with the exhibitions “Thrift Style” and Reclaimed Creations: Sayaka Ganz.”  Virginia Iris Kingery is a junior at Manhattan High School and is volunteering at the Beach Museum of Art.  She is very interested in the idea of sustainability and will be providing blogs on new research, ideas for reducing and reusing in your own home and community, and sharing ideas from area school groups visiting the museum.

When it comes to reusing materials to better the environment, we see many beneficial innovations come from adults. However, there is also plenty of lesser known creativity exemplified among children and teenagers. The ideas from people of different generations on how to reuse the waste that plagues our environment gives us hope for a greener future. One such person is young inventor Ashton Cofer.

Ashton Cofer, 14, became alerted to the issue of styrofoam waste when some of his teammates for an international LEGO robotics competition for youth returned from a trip to Central America and told him about the beaches they had seen that were littered with styrofoam. Stryofoam is a brand name for a material known as extruded polystyrene foam. Polystyrene is a widely used plastic that is very slow to biodegrade due to its chemical makeup. In addition, polystyrene has very little market demand from recycling businesses.

Cofer, a young person already interested in science, decided to make styrofoam the focus of his next experiment. Concerned about the pollution it caused, he wanted to find a way to reuse styrofoam and make it into something useful. Since styrofoam contains carbon, Cofer and his teammates hypothesized that it could somehow be turned into activated carbon, a material with a number of uses including drinking water filtration and air purification. Activated carbon is processed to have small pores low in volume that are useful in allowing contaminates to adhere to it.

Cofer’s team tried applying different chemicals and heating temperatures to the styrofoam in hopes of creating activated carbon. At first, many of their trials failed, resulting in vaporized materials and hard to clean messes. Despite this, they kept trying, and finally created a material that proved to be activated carbon when tested. Of his experimental process, Cofer said,”…although we started with catching my dad’s grill on fire and failing so many times that we almost quit, it was well worth it when we look back at it now. We took a problem that many people said was impossible and we made it possible, and we persevered when it looked like nothing that we did would work. We learned that you can’t have success without a little, or a lot, of failure. So in the future, don’t be afraid if your grill goes up in flames, because you never know when your idea might just catch fire.”

Iris Kingery

 

Sources:

https://www.ted.com/talks/ashton_cofer_a_young_inventor_s_plan_to_recycle_styrofoam

http://www.tigg.com/what-is-activated-carbon.html