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Distanced Connection 

Soot on paper, tree brunches, bone ash

1. Umi no Kioku (Installation view at Tenjinyama Art Studio, Sapporo Japan), 2023
2-5. Distanced Connection (Installation view at Tsukimiso, Kyoto Japan), 2023

The project was inspired by Japanese immigrants who crossed the Pacific Ocean in the late nineteenth century to work for a railway company in the United States to send their paychecks back home to support their families. Not only them, but also numerous immigrants have crossed the ocean for a better life. Thinking about how much hope, expectation, and fear they held when crossing the ocean, I deeply share the same feeling as an immigrant who also crossed the Pacific Ocean for a better life. This project is a reminder of the Japanese workers who were never able to go back to their homeland and their voices hidden within the ocean. 

Uncertain Certainty 

Exhibition at the opium den located within the historical Chinese Herb Shop in Truckee, CA

Certainty 1
Used Chair; 41" x 28" x 25"; 2020

Uncertainty 1 
Soot on paper; 41" x 30"; 2020

Soot on paper, glass jars, soil, metal, wood; 25" x 13" x 5.5"; 2022

39.392632, -120.18281
Soil sample, glass jar, red candle, old opium bottle, found broken china pieces, used cabinet, speakers; 36" x 23.5" x 14"; 2022 (Sound is created by Reiko Yamada)

Soot on paper, glass jars, clay, wood; 92” x 36” x 5.5”; 2022

About the Chinese Herb Shop
“The Chinese Herb Shop is one of the most interesting, albeit mysterious, buildings in Truckee. It is also the last remaining structure of a large Chinese community which was part of Truckee’s second Chinatown between the years 1878 and 1886.”
“Few facts are known about the herb shop’s earliest occupants or its usage, but it appears to be the only survivor of Chinatown’s third major fire of suspicious origin, which broke out on June 17, 1886.”

This is taken form the article “Herb shop an important link to Truckee’s Chinese history” written by Guy Coates, former research historian for the Truckee Donner Historical Society. For the whole article, please visit here.

Resonance (Truckee River)

Installation by Miya Hannan

Sound by Reiko Yamada

Soil from 5 locations around Reno, NV, silver ores, old Chinese coins, found Chinese medicine bottle, found broken china pieces, found old nails, candle, resin, glass jars, motors, copper pipe, silk, speakers


This installation is based on Asian histories in the Reno Area that have almost been forgotten. It uncovers the history and memory associated with Asian immigrants who were involved with railroad work and mining. I gathered soil, objects, and stories from places where these histories are associated to use for this installation. Each column in the installation represents a historical site around Reno. The numbers on the columns are coordinates where I collected soil. The hidden jar contains soil and objects that suggest the history of the location. The 1st column contains silver ore and old Chinese coins; the 2nd one, a broken piece of a Chinese medicine bottle; the 3rd, old nails; the 4th, old China pieces and a red candle; the 5th, a finger bone. The copper pipe by the ceiling and the white fabric from it are in the shape of the Truckee River, and the columns are placed corresponding to actual geographical locations in relation to the river.

The Story of the Sphenoid Bone

Ceramics, epoxy, bone ash, ash on paper;

12' x 32' x 22' (the size varies depending on space); 2017-18

Photo by Frances Melhop

This installation encompasses a story around Japanese cremation urns. Japanese highly respect ancestors’ bone ashes because they believe ancestor worship brings them happiness. Even though my scientific background might lead me to doubt these superstitions, I have never questioned my respect for my ancestors. I believe that every dead person, in some way, exists around us, as memories, stories, knowledge, and genetic codes, creating layers of rich histories that also enhance people’s lives. This exhibition is an exploration of changing visual forms as a metaphor for the changes of states in human existence.

Trapped Histories

Bone ash, epoxy resin, concrete, phone books, tree branches; approx. 20 x 20 x 15 feet; 2013

This installation was created as a part of a body of work, Layers and Missing Links. It derives from my understanding of the histories that are etched, trapped, and stratified in the soil of the Earth. I  view the world as layers and linkages of humans and histories. The amber colored epoxy pieces contain twisted phone books. White pieces are hardened bone ash.


Bone ash, digital printing on paper, plaster, fabric; 12" x 16' x 3'; 2010

This installation is lying low on the floor and meant to be seen from the top looking down. In the installation, twisted phonebook pages containing multitudes of names are sewed into bedsheets that are laid over the landscape of human remains. The white powder mimicking a river is bone ash. This installation, which mimics a Japanese ritual, implies “linkages” of individual human beings from past to future, of layers of human histories, of endings and new beginnings, and of humans and nature. 


Phone pages, plaster, fabric, bone ash; each sculpture approx. 18 x 12 x 15 inches; 2010

This installation is a collection of sculpture (Season 1 - 7). It implies "linkages," as well as the cycles of nature and of human beings. Each sculpture consists of shapes of vertebrae and the pelvis. It is covered with white fabric, and twisted phone book pages go in and out though the fabric. (For more images of the individual sculptures, please go to Sculpture page.)

Anchor 1

Mixed media on Japanese paper and cheese cloth, styrene form, paper mache, bone ash, porcelain; 12 x 16 x 16 feet as a whole installation; 2007

The idea of this installation is taken from an Asian funeral ritual. The white powder on the floor is bone ash, each pile of which has an axis bone sitting on it. The axis is the second cervical vertebra. It, along with the atlas (the first cervical vertebra), creates a pivot type of joint which allows the head to turn. In Japan, the axis is called “nodobotoke,” which means “the Buddha in the throat,” because the shape of it looks like the seated Buddha. It is, therefore, treated with greatest respect when the dead are cremated. After cremation, family members pick up the remains using chopsticks. The axis is picked up last by the person closest to the dead one. It is then laid in a special place separately from the rest of the ashes.

One or Millions ?

Mixed media on fabric, plaster; 12 x 16 x 16 feet as a whole installation; 2006

This installation is made from a long fabric on which a continuous chain of vertebrae is drawn. The fabric connects shapes of human bodies that are molded from my own body.

Evolutionary Momentum

Mixed media on Japanese paper, bone ash; 105 x 320 x 12 inches; 2007

The white piles are bone ash connected with arches of vertebrae drawn on thin Japanese paper. The pieces of thin paper are hung from the top so that they move with air currents.

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