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.
Ando’s 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 is Form (lines from the Heart Sutra), Sky/Emptiness (Sora/Ku), or 72 Kō (ancient Japanese calendar system that divides the year into 72 seasons). The artist’s family background is also a great influence: her father is American, while her mother is a Japanese descendant of Bizen swordsmiths, and the artist spent her childhood in both rural Northern California and at the Buddhist temple overseen by her maternal grandfather in Japan. Ando skillfully fuses the traditional and the contemporary, the industrial and the natural, East and West, reflecting the essence of nature in her work with refinement and sensitivity.
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, an official collateral event 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.