The Westwood Gallery in New York City will present a solo exhibition by installation artist Nobuho Nagasawa, professor the the Department of Art in Stony Brook’s College of Arts and Sciences. Nobuho Nagasawa: Drawn to the Light will be held August 19 through October 16.
The all-encompassing, site-specific installation combines Nagasawa’s deep-rooted tradition of multidisciplinary art, fusing technology, light, sound and community engagement. Visitors are invited to share their stories of the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19.
“This is my first major post-pandemic solo show in New York City,” Nagasawa said. “The pandemic gave me a quiet time to think and reflect deeply, and I have been using this time to prepare my exhibition. The show is a work-in-progress installation that encourages public participation every Saturday from 2 pm to 5 pm over the course of two months.”
The gallery installation turns the space into an ephemeral city to honor the cycle of life through symbolisms from nature. Prior to the exhibition, Nagasawa recorded stories from individuals in three public spaces — Tompkins Square, Washington Square and Columbus Park — which triangulate an area in which the gallery is located. Visitors can walk through the gallery with white scrim panels hanging from the ceiling that mark off three contextual spaces related to each park. Each of these three areas will have a single light source, to which the symbolic luna moths are drawn to; and the light will emanate the oral stories of loss.
On a 35-foot gallery wall with sculptures of the moon, Nagasawa will stencil hundreds of luna moths over the course of the exhibition, marking a visual memory that connects to emotional memory. The luna moth — a mythical symbol in many cultures — represents the inner spirit, intuition, awareness and trust in ourselves. After 12 months in metamorphosis, the luna moth exists for less than 10 days as a winged adult and is rarely seen due to its nocturnal nature. Their short life span reminds us of our moments to live and love to the fullest. On the final day of the exhibition, Nagasawa will erase the moths as a symbolic act of release for all we have lost during COVID-19.
The Drawn to the Light installation also references the 500-year tradition of Japan’s Obon, a summer festival to commemorate ancestors. On the last day of Obon, candle-lit lanterns are released into rivers to guide the spirits of ancestors back to the other world. Following this tradition, Nagasawa’s installation in the gallery is a two-month extension of the three-day Obon festival, which ends according to the lunar calendar on August 16.
An artist talk will be held on September 11, from 3 pm to 4 pm, with a Closing Reception on October 16, from 6 pm to 8 pm.
— Lynne Roth