Pair of immersive Japanese exhibitions set to debut at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

A tiny pine seed and a 10-foot-wide panoramic video seem incongruous, but both are from immersive Japanese exhibitions at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center that create new worlds to explore.

The earthquake and tsunami that racked Japan in 2011, killing nearly 16,000 people, inspired a huge video by Chiho Aoshima, "Takaamanohara" ("The Plain of High Heaven"), that bursts with bold colors and sounds.

The tsunami’s waves can be heard in the separate "millionyearseeds" exhibition by Yoshitomo Saito, whose hundreds of bronze casts of twigs, coniferous seeds and milkweed pods are scattered into a gentle, flowing wave across a wall.

"This is not a Japanese artist show," said Joy Armstrong, the center’s curator of modern and contemporary art. "The two solo exhibitions just happen to work together. There is a dialogue that is happening between the artists."

The exhibits open Saturday at the FAC, 30 W. Dale St., and remain through April 29.

"There is a nice connection between the environmentally immersive quality (of Saito) and the visually immersive quality (of Aoshima)," said Jessica Hunter-Larsen, the center’s curator of interdisciplinary experimental arts.

Aoshima draws from Japanese mythology and contemporary anime films to transport her videos’ viewers.

"Her work creates a universe with its own internal logic," said Hunter-Larsen. "Her larger video was inspired by the events in 2011, the earthquake, the tsunami. In a way, (the artists’) works complement each other."

The exhibition also will feature Aoshima’s "City Glow" video, with anime images and urban themes displayed colorfully across five monitors.

Armstrong had been talking with Saito, a longtime Denver resident, about the time Hunter-Larsen learned that a collector would lend Aoshima’s videos.

"It was a beautiful coincidence that we could offer Yoshi an exhibition. As soon as I saw his work, I knew immediately," said Armstrong.

Saito uses bronze casting to transform objects found in nature into meditative and immersive sculpture installations.

His "millionyearseeds" is a combination of several pieces being displayed as one for the first time.

"Bronze is usually macho, dominating, big," said Saito. "I make it feminine. I like it thin."

He emigrated from Tokyo to North Carolina in 1983 and moved to Denver in 2006.

"When I saw the mountains, I fell in love," Saito said.

He said each piece he finds is cast, and no cast is ever repeated.

"I have 240 milkweeds, the pods. Each cast is unique."

His "millionyearseeds" spans several walls, wrapping around corners and moving between the room’s entrances and exits.

"His works overreach through time periods – the installations become one single organism," said Armstrong.

– Yoshitomo Saito’s "millionyearseeds," bronze castings of delicate, natural items assembled as installations.

– Chiho Aoshima’s "Takaamanohara," a huge video retelling a creation story, and "City Glow," an animated video featuring anime-style images.

The FAC, 30 W. Dale St., open 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for military and ages 55 and up, free for FAC members and for students and teachers with identification.

Something else: The FAC will kick off both exhibits with a members-only tour, led by curators Joy Armstrong and Jessica Hunter-Larsen. at noon Saturday.

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