Utter immersion


As you duck into the room, the door softly shuts, enveloping you in absolute darkness. Your eyes adjust to the millions of bright, twinkling lights, stretching on and on into infinite space—all inside of an intimate room not much larger than a walk-in closet.

Yayoi Kusama , who was born in 1929, created her “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit to provide her viewers the opportunity to contemplate life, death and the passage of time within a calm and surreal space. The gallery features mirrored rooms, epochal sculptures and kaleidoscopic displays. Kusama’s art carefully evokes a sympathy of the shared human experience.

As the final stop in a five-city North American tour, “Infinity Mirrors” has been on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art since early July. Tickets only go on-sale once weekly and often sell out within minutes.

Repetition is a constant theme for Kusama, who is well-known for her patterns of polka dots and nets that engulf viewers in an immersive universe. Kusama began painting with dots and nets at the age of 10. As described in the gallery, the first of her Infinity Net works were created “without composition – without beginning, end or center.” Kusama painstakingly labors for hours to etch small arcs and dots on plain black or colored backgrounds to give the effect of immeasurable repetition which fully captivates the senses.

Her incorporation of mirrors in 1965 amplified her repetitive patterns. Kusama’s iconic Infinity Mirror rooms not only create boundless stretches of darkness and light, but also fuse their beholders with the reflective walls and surfaces. Watching the endless reflections of your figure become a part of this vast, beautiful space is truly breathtaking.

The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013) is one of seven immersive mirrored rooms in the gallery. The museum describes it as “a harmonious and quiet place for you to contemplate your existence.” Glancing up at the ceiling reveals a dreamlike dark sky. As you shift your gaze downward, your field of vision gradually floods with endless blue, green and gold-hued lights reminiscent of a galaxy or star-filled night.

Apart from the mirrors, Kusama’s gallery features her idyllic “Obliteration Room.” The room includes props like furniture, potted plants, coffee mugs and children’s toys painted stark white. Visitors are welcome to place multi-colored circular stickers anywhere they please, allowing them to contribute to the obileration of form that the room showcases.

The effect of Kusama’s art on the senses is striking and unforgettable. The exhibition will remain at the Cleveland Museum of Art until Sept. 30. Tickets can be purchased online each Monday beginning at 9 a.m. until tickets are sold out for that week.