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.)



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.