Kathy Aoki: #WishYouWereHere
June 23 – September 9, 2018
With her iconic pink bow, anthropomorphic cat figure, and set of exactly six whiskers, it is hard to not recognize Hello Kitty when you see her.
The ever cute and wildly popular Sanrio character can be found on almost any consumer product, including notebooks, lunch boxes, shoes, jewelry, bedspreads, etc. According to the Santa Clara-based artist and historian Kathy Aoki, the Hello Kitty craze and fandom has only escalated over the years, so much so that in 2007 her likeness was carved atop a mountain region and the Hello Kitty Monument was born.
Unfortunately, in 2011, the Monument was demolished due to an excavation of precious minerals that existed within the mountainside. However, thanks to the work and dedicated efforts of Aoki, the memory of the monument lives on for generations to come. Aoki pays homage to the cute, iconic figure and transforms the ICA into the home of a larger-than-life diorama of the monument. In addition, the diorama serves as a prime location for a perfect selfie. Make your way to the ICA to take a photo with the diorama—it’s almost as if you were there! Viewers are invited to check-in at the monument and contribute their portraits to the online archive. The Hello Kitty Monument Diorama and Visitor Center will host audio interviews, video, an interactive map, and artifacts that inform guests about the legacy of the monument.
Referring to herself as a “sneaky feminist,” Aoki uses humor, pattern and color to create works that critique gender, media, and politics. She received her BFA from University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in Printmaking at Washington University in St. Louis. Aoki’s awards include fellowships from Kala Art Institute, the MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Val Paraiso and Frans Masereel Centrum. Her work can be found in major collections across the United States including the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMoMA , the Harvard University Art Museums, and the New York Public Library. Currently, Aoki is an Associate Professor of Studio Art and the Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University.