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Meet Shoei Umeyama, early 19th century Japanese scholar and time traveler.
Shoei’s travels brought him to 21st century suburban San Antonio, Texas, where he intensely documented his studies on culture, habits and the built environment to educate his contemporaries. Today, this body of work is shown at the Umeya Time Teleportation Museum (also known as UTTM for short).
Shoei Umeyama is the fictional protagonist in our current artist Hiromi Stringer’s show. He was born out of Hiromi’s ongoing love/hate relationship with contemporary art and her time in San Antonio. She has spent the better part of a decade here after moving stateside to study art at UTSA. Since earning her MFA, Hiromi remained at UTSA to teach while pursuing her own art.
An immersive work in an era where immersive art is steadily becoming more mainstream, the UTTM transports the mind and eye rather than the physical body into the work. This creates a dual experience for the viewer who may approach each piece as both visitor of the museum and guest at Hiromi’s show. What is the relationship between artist, art and viewer? This becomes even more muddled with the inclusion of museum labels in the form of graphite drawings that act as intermediary between Shoei’s documentation for his fellow Japanese scholars and UTTM’s curator communicating the significance of his work to an american audience. What is the role of authorship in visual art? Must label accompany art? All of these are questions Hiromi poses. If you are curious, the art labels shown in our space are indeed labeled.
The work does not seek merely to document this world, but to understand it by literally drawing connections to the world he understands, transforming the foreign into the familiar. These links, rendered in pencil studies, explained in calligraphy and occasionally annotated in red, lead the viewer to attentively view the cultural trappings so familiar we take for granted or no longer see. This serious observation results in rich and layered pieces, marked by a rigor not only in the art itself but in the narrative Hiromi has created for us.
The observations of Umeyama showcase a range of humor, cheekiness and imagination, yet all give insight that will alter your perception of the mundane. The light teasing of rituals and symbols we hold closely can only be categorized as affectionate: a playful analysis without condemnation.
In fact, when we are observing the work we are viewing both pieces of Umeyama’s work and pieces of the museum; fire alarms, mechanical controls, signage complete with minor vandalism from past visitors, they all come together to create an experience.
Both Hiromi’s created museum and the work she creates for Umeyama take hold of the everyday stuff so familiar we never see; let alone study or question. The debris of modern culture, born out of the growing influence of technology and safety regulations on our built environment. And while showing pieces that display less glamorous pieces of the everyday is not by any means new* Hiromi displays both rigor and a conceptual accessibility that you do not often find in works of similar subjects. To experience Hiromi’s work is to make the familiar new again.
Represented by Cinnabar Art Gallery. Founded by Susan Oliver Heard, a GIA graduate gemologist and jeweler, mineral dealer, writer, and curator. Cinnabar’s first opening was September 5, 2013 and featured a solo show for world renowned photographer George Krause. George Krause: San Miguel Exposed received the choice award for Foto Septiembre.
Cinnabar Gallery has been featured in local and national publications such as Artforum, Sculpture magazine, Garden & Gun, San Antonio Express-News, Rivard Report, and the San Antonio Current.
*Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain was exhibited in 1917, if you are not familiar google it. You will not regret.
Launched in 2015 to celebrate and steward art within our community, the Overland Art Program promotes both established and emerging artists, inspire the design process, and encourage creative thinking. As part of...
Originally published by CultureMap San Antonio