May 15, 2018


Mayumi Lake, a photographer who teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago, wanted to do something other than print on sheets of lovely paper and then handle them with white cotton gloves. To liberate her work from traditional photographic output—and ways of seeing it—she decided to cut and tear the paper and play with layering and dimension. Lake is also an inveterate collector of vintage kimonos—especially those that are worn to celebrate the rite of passage of young girlhood in Japan. She told me she used to find them at flea markets in Kyoto, where her parents live. But those kimonos are hard to come by these days.

imageimageimageIn her show “Unison” at the Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery in Chelsea, Lake’s pieces combine the sublime with kitsch. Scanned and printed from the nearly extinct garments, typical pastel-hued kimono motifs like chrysanthemum petals and leaves are extracted to become pop-sized elements, carefully placed in loose wreaths, and adorned with pink fur, plastic balls, wig hair, imitation gold leaf, faux sushi grass and neon flowers one could find in a 99-cent store. The yield is a bouquet of vibrant, tactile collages that pop from the walls (spattered by light shards from a disco ball above). Lake’s show is a humorous and reverent celebration of the ephemeral natures of vintage silk kimonos and girlhood.





May 2018