Kelly Akashi is known for her materially hybrid works that are compelling both formally and conceptually. Originally trained in analog photography, the artist is drawn to fluid, impressionable materials and old-world craft techniques, such as glass blowing and casting, candle making, bronze and silicone casting, and rope making. Encompassing a selection of artworks made over the past decade, Kelly Akashi: Formations is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work, and will feature a newly commissioned series in which Akashi explores the inherited impact of her family’s imprisonment in a Japanese American incarceration camp during World War II.
Through evocative combinations that seem both familiar and strange, Akashi cultivates relationships among a variety of things to investigate how they can actively convey their histories and potential for change. She often pairs hand-blown glass or wax forms with unique and temporally specific bronze casts of her own hand, each a unique record of the slow-changing human body. Akashi’s interest in time—embedded in the materiality of many of her processes—has led her to study fossils and botany, locating humankind within a longer geological timeline.
Kelly Akashi: Formations is the first major exhibition and catalog of Akashi’s work. The exhibition will be on view from September 3, 2022—April 23, 2023 in San Jose before touring nationally.
The exhibition catalog—the first scholarly monograph on the artist—will feature essays by Lauren Schell Dickens, Ruba Katrib, Dr. Jenni Sorkin; and a conversation between Akashi and painter Julien Nguyen. The book will also feature a special photography project by Akashi, created specifically for this publication.
Born in 1983 in Los Angeles, Kelly Akashi currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. The artist graduated with a MFA from University of Southern California in 2014. Akashi studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste - Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and received her BFA at Otis College of Art and Design in 2006.
The artist has presented solo projects at Aspen Art Museum (2020) and the SculptureCenter, New York (2017). Other notable group exhibitions include the Clark Art Institute (2021); Hammer Museum’s biennial, Made in L.A. (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2017); Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, France (2017); The Jewish Museum, New York (2016); Can’t Reach Me There, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2015). Winner of the 2019 Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation Art Prize the artist had a residency at the foundation in Ojai, California. Other residencies include ARCH Athens, Greece (2019) and at Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA (2019) - both of which concluded with a solo exhibition.
Kelly Akashi’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Brooklyn Museum, New York; CC Foundation, Shanghai; M WOODS, Beijing; and Sifang Museum, Nanjing, China, among others.
Kelly Akashi: Formations is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with generous contributions from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Fellows of Contemporary Art, and Mr. Cole Harrell and Dr. Tai-Heng Cheng.
Operations and programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Yellow Chair Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.