Born in 1973, in Los Angeles, California, Miya Ando received her BA in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, before going on to study Buddhist iconography and imagery at Yale University and becoming an apprentice at master metalsmith, Hattori Studio in Okayama Prefecture, Japan.
Using a variety of materials including steel, aluminum, and wood, Ando creates abstract paintings, sculptures and installations. Her work has also been characterized as Post-Minimalist, with her metal-paintings being perhaps the most well-known. Applying heat to steel or aluminum, the artist layers colors, applies chemicals or lacquers, sands and polishes to add shine to the metal. Through this process, subtle gradations that recall sun, sky or cloud appear on the surface, revealing the artist’s unique perspective to the onlooker.
Her work is infused with a Buddhist worldview, as well as a traditional Japanese view of nature, that can be clearly seen in her exhibition titles, such as ‘Form is Emptiness, Emptiness Form’ (lines from the Heart Sutra), ‘Sky/Emptiness (Sora/Ku)’, or ‘72 Kō’ (ancient Japanese calendar system that divides the year into 72 seasons). This stems from the artist’s family background: she is half American and half Japanese, descended from Bizen swordsmiths and spent her childhood in both rural Northern California and at the Buddhist temple overseen by her maternal grandfather in Japan. Ando thus skillfully fuses the traditional and the contemporary, the industrial and the natural, East and West, exploring through her art the connections between people and things.
Her recent solo exhibitions include ‘Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form’, Asia Society Texas Center (Houston, 2019); ‘Miya Ando’, Sundaram Tagore Gallery (New York, 2019); and ‘Clouds’, Kantor Gallery (Los Angeles, 2019). She has held solo exhibitions at institutions including The Noguchi Museum (New York, 2018), as well as participated in group exhibitions at the Haus der Kunst (Munich, 2019) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA, Los Angeles, 2017). In 2015, her large-scale installation, ‘Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban)’, was shown at the ‘Frontiers Reimagined’ exhibition of the 56th Venice Biennale. Her work is in many notable public and private collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA, Los Angeles), the Haus der Kunst (Munich), and the Berkowitz Collection (Miami). Ando has also created numerous public works of art, including a memorial sculpture entitled ‘After 9/11’, a work which has been installed permanently in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, and for which she was shortlisted for the Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture in 2015.