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Miya Hannan 
South Bend Museum of Art Application

Artist's Statement

I view the world as one comprised of layers and linkages of history, a chain of lives and events that leads from one to the next. Landscape is the record of history. I developed this view while working in the medical field and experiencing death in Japan. Millions of creatures and human beings have come and gone over time, becoming part of the layers of the land. Scientists believe that all these strata are linked, telling us stories of who we are and where we come from. Like a scientist, I am driven to look for the missing links between strata. In Japan, the souls of the dead live on, spirits exist within nature, and land retains its destiny—people inherit the histories of the land on which they live. I am interested in the relationship between humanity and the information trapped in nature.


Materials that echo the temporal and fragile nature of physical bodies drive my imagination. Bone ash and soot, which often appear in my artwork, are an especially meaningful material since they represent Japanese death rituals. The dead stay with the living in the form of memory, story, knowledge, and genetic code. Every dead person exists around us in some way, creating layers of rich histories that enhance our lives. My work depicts my view of death as another form of being alive.


Recently, I have been interested in preserving histories and the sorties of people that are almost forgotten or, otherwise, can be lost. For example, the current project "Crossing the Ocean" is 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.

Miya Hannan


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