Oklahoma Contemporary

Press Item

Chiyoko Myose: Sojourning | June 2-Aug. 11

July 09, 2018

Contact: Lori Brooks, director of communications
405 951 0000 | lbrooks@okcontemp.org

A media kit for Chiyoko Myose: Sojourning can be found at bit.ly/OCMyosekit.

Chiyoko Myose is originally from Japan. Even though she has lived in Wichita, Kan., for the past 20 years, she chooses to call herself a “sojourner,” a temporary traveler in a new place. Perhaps because she does not feel fully at home in any particular place, her works emphasize connections: connections to home and family, connections to people she meets, connections across the world.

Myose chooses her materials carefully, and each one has symbolic meanings. Her use of textiles and textile techniques relates directly to her subject matter. Both in English and Japanese, textiles are often used metaphorically to discuss relationships: to tie the knot, the ties that bind, close-knit family. Other, more unusual materials — dryer sheets, shoji paper, old clothing — are evocative of memories or individual people.

While Myose’s works are based on her own personal experience, they are also universal. She notes, “As a sojourner, I am consoled by the belief that life is like a journey; we are all sojourners on the earth.”

Q&A with the artist

Why is the exhibit called Sojourning?

To me, “sojourning” is the positive and encouraging word to explain my condition of living in a foreign country. I grew up in Japan, but I have been living in the U.S. for over 20 years now. I still feel I am in the space between these two places. Moving from one place to another, leaving things behind and facing a new landscape and culture makes me feel like a traveler, a sojourner, a temporary dweller. As a sojourner, I am consoled by the belief that life is like a journey; we are all sojourners on the earth. My work explores various perspectives into my search for meaning within the sojourner's journey.

Tell us about your process. Do you come up with an idea first and then choose a medium to work in? Or do you start with the medium and then devise an idea?

It depends on the work. Regarding the pieces called Akari and Gift in this show, I came up with the idea first and then got the materials to make the pieces that fit with the idea. I got shoji door paper all the way from Japan for Akari. For Thread X A Thread and Bloom, I got the materials first, and they became the springboard to form the idea.

How do your pieces represent the theme of relationships?

At Oklahoma Contemporary, I am showing four installations from the series that I call Sojourning Threads. They express four different aspects of relationships from my perspective as a “sojourner,” a person who stays in one place temporarily, like a traveler. Although each work has different materials, the common element for these four installations is the material of threads.

The material of thread reminds me of connection. First, threads can be a material to literally connect separate things. Also, in the Japanese language, the verbs that are related to the word “thread,” such as to tie a knot, to cut and to get tangled represents different conditions of relationships idiomatically. Based on these ideas, the theme for each installation developed.

Akari: A sojourner’s search for the relationships with herself in the past and future

A Thread X A Thread: Treasuring the moment of meeting people

Bloom: A sojourner’s wish for world peace over war and separation of people

Gift: A sojourner’s thoughts on meeting people - people are meant to cross our paths for a reason.

The color of the threads was one of the inspirations to express different aspects of relationships. For example, a red thread reminds me of relationships with people who are close to me; red is the symbolic color of the heart, and I also cannot ignore East Asian “legend of the red thread.” We often use the expression “they are connected with a red thread,” which means a relationship that is almost pre-destined. In my work Gift, I extended this idea to express the mystery of crossing the path with some people which does not look like an accident.

Another inspiration came from the found objects such as used dryer sheets in Bloom and used clothes in Gift. They represent individual people to me. The dryer sheets remind me of skins of people, and their functions make me think about the way to make better relationships with people. I collected used dryer sheets from people that I didn’t know by frequently going to a laundromat. The used cloths were collected from my family and friends. I sewed these found objects together or braided them with threads. These processes reminded me of how relationships are built as well.

Last, but not least, I consider the effects of the lights and shadows as important elements of my works to express spiritual relationships.

You’ve shown in both the U.S. and Japan. How were those experiences different?

Basically, I haven’t seen much difference. Both viewers in the U.S. and Japan get the idea of relationships fairly quickly and start interacting with my piece.

Tell us about the new piece created for this show.

In addition to the four installations from Sojourning Threads series, I am showing one new installation at Oklahoma Contemporary. The title of this piece is Origami Cranes in Blue. In a dark space with a lot of suspended threads, you will see origami cranes made of steel rods. The surfaces of cranes are created by tying knots with threads. These origami cranes represent my connection to my original country and culture, as well as my state of travelling and searching for a home. The threads that I’m using in this piece glow in the dark with a certain type of light. It is as if the origami cranes have hope and a future even in the uncertainty of their journey.

Artist biography

Chiyoko Myose was born and raised in Wakayama, Japan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Doshisha Women’s College in Kyoto, Japan. She began pursuing art after she moved to the U.S. in 1995 and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Wichita State University in 2011. Myose has shown her works regionally throughout Kansas and Missouri, as well as internationally in Japan and Italy. Her awards include a Koch Cultural Trust Enabling Grant, a Wichita Emerging Artists Award and a Wichita Arts Council Artist Grant. She is married and has two children.

July 14 Make + Take
Join us at the fairgrounds for an afternoon of learning and performance celebrating Chiyoko Myose: Sojourning. Hear music composed in response to the installation, get hands-on in the Learning Gallery and more!


Myose_A Thread_full: Families add knots to A Thread X A Thread at the opening of Chiyoko Myose: Sojourning. Myose began this piece in Kansas, to demonstrate her wish to treasure each meeting, as a traveler in a new place. Since then, the piece has travelled to other cities in Kansas, Missouri and even Japan. In each place, visitors have tied their own knots, adding to the piece and participating in the act of connection.

Myose_A Thread_tie: A visitor adds a knot to the interactive A Thread X A Thread.

Myose_Akari: Visitor Ruby Jean Butler takes inspiration from Akari during the Sojourning opening. Akari is made of shoji paper and wood strips, used to make shoji panels that serve as room dividers and doors in traditional Japanese architecture. The shoji panels are translucent, allowing light to shine through.

Myose_Bloom: Bloom is Myose’s wish for world peace. The rocks symbolize the current discord while the yellow threads represent harmony and warmth. The “flowers” are made from used dryer sheets collected from random people. They symbolize the connection between individuals that is necessary for peace.

Myose_Crane, Myose_Crane2: In Origami Cranes in Blue, a new piece created for this exhibit, the cranes represent Myose’s original country and culture, as well as her status as a sojourner, searching for home. The cranes glow in the dark, symbolizing hope for the future even in times of uncertainty.

Myose_Gift: Oklahoma Contemporary Exhibitions Manager Steve Boyd and his daughter, Poppy, pose for a photo with Gift.

Myose_LearningGallery: In the Learning Gallery, visitors can answer questions related to Sojourning’s themes on small pieces of paper and clip them to pieces of thread on the wall.


A media kit for Chiyoko Myose: Sojourning can be found at bit.ly/OCMyosekit. Past press releases and additional information are archived at oklahomacontemporary.org/about/media. Interviews with Oklahoma Contemporary staff can be organized through Director of Communications Lori Brooks (lbrooks@okcontemp.org).


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