Masters student’s project serves as a representation of her homeland

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    Kubo Hiroko's exhibit "Self Storage Garden Exhibit" is her weeklong MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) graduate thesis that focuses on her memory of water in her homeland of Japan.

    The idea of her exhibit is to depict water without using actual water. This idea came from zen gardens which use sand and rock to depict the ocean and islands.

    The exhibit incorporates a deck that Hiroko made herself for viewers to walk across the entire time in the gallery. 

    It is completely dark inside except for lanterns under the deck that reflect off the windows and a red light hanging from the ceiling that blinks. All the elements used in the show are connected to the cultural landscape of Japan and are meant to make it feel like water is present. 

    "It's a very interesting exhibit," local resident Christopher Blay said. "It's the true definition of an installation." 
     

    Hiroko said lanterns are used as ceremonial items in her hometown of Hiroshima so the scenery of them is very familiar to her. 

    "I made it so the lanterns would reflect off the windows," Hiroko said. "As people walk through the reflection, [it] looks like the lanterns are floating."

    The only sound in the exhibit is a recording of frogs croaking on repeat.

    "I grew up in the countryside of Japan," Hiroko said. "In the summer the rice paddies are filled with water to harvest and the frogs live in the water and start singing at night."

    She said that the sound of the frogs is loud, yet calming and relaxing. She used this sound because it not only helps represent water but also represents her homeland.

    "The recording is very authentic," University of North Texas studio art professor Annette Lawrence said. "That's part of the transformation when you enter you really go into a different space." 

    When Hiroko started thinking about this exhibit last July she said she wanted to use actual water on the floor but ran into technical problems, so she decided to use the reflective floor and minimal lighting to represent water instead.

    "It incorporates the space in a very specific way," Blay said. "It's very powerful."

    Hiroko is currently applying for art residences for when she graduates. She wants to continue to work on her art and grow as an artist. 

    Her exhibit is located in the Moudy gallery and will end April 12.