On Saturday, TCM artist in residence Lynne Yamamoto‘s site-specific installation A House for Listening to Rain officially opened for business. And that business is to stop and smell the roses—or plumeria. Yamamoto, who was born and raised on O‘ahu and now lives in Northampton, Mass., where she is an art professor at Smith College, spoke briefly about her work at the opening.
“It’s just a simple shed, but I hope the longer you’re in it, you’ll realize there are subtle dynamics,” said Yamamoto. “The floor boards are at angles. The direction of the angles are meant to lead you to look out.”
Yamamoto found the lumber at Reuse Hawaii, and the wood is all from the same job. “That’s why it’s all aged to the same color,” said Yamamoto. The roof is made of new tin, which she washed in vinegar, to give it a bit of a patina of time.
Constructed by installation designer John Koga to Yamamoto’s specifications, the tiny house’s walls are a fine mesh, and when you are seated in it, it’s like nothing separates you from the garden, and the garden seems magnified, framed as it is by the structure’s frame. You are in nature, yet a bit removed, protected from mosquitos and flies and creepy crawlies. And the old wood carries with the smell of…home—it smells like my grandmother’s termite-worried house in deep Manoa. Grandma died three years ago, and her house was sold, and I breathed in the shed’s scent gratefully.
This work is a departure for Yamamoto, whose last work at The Contemporary Museum (Sweating Bone China in the 2009 exhibition 20 Going on 21: Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Looking to the Future) made use of embroidered cloth and ceramics. But curator Inger Tully has a knack for getting artists to step out of their comfort zones, to great effect.
Go experience it yourself. Especially on a rainy day.