September 8 – December 8, 2012

Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto is known for working with salt, often in the form of temporary, intricate, large-scale installations. For his exhibition at the Laband Art Gallery, Yamamoto created an on-site installation in the gallery. Salt drawings and photographs as well as a video documenting Motoi's installation process and inspiration were on display.

Yamamoto forged a connection to salt while mourning the death of his sister, at the age of twenty-four, from brain cancer and began to create art out of the element in an effort to preserve his memories of her. Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses to ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Yamamoto's art radiates an intense beauty and tranquility, but also conveys something ineffable, painful, and endless.

Interesting Tidbits About the Project

  • Pounds of Morton Table Salt Used: 275 lbs.
  • Number of Hours Spent Creating Piece: approximately 102 hours
  • Size of Piece: approximately 33 x 26 feet (858 square feet)
  • Tools Used in Creating Piece: a plastic motor oil bottle, a funnel, a sieve, a plastic cup, a yoga mat, and lots of patience


  • Motoi Yamamoto - Saltscapes

    A Japanese artist travels from LA's Laband Art Gallery to the salt flats of western Utah to discuss life, death, rebirth, and making art from salt.

    Produced & Directed by Brady Welch / Associate Production by Arden Sherman / Camera, Sound, and Editing by Brett Novak / Photo by Brady Welch / Music by Winston Morris / Shot on location in Wendover, Utah and Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

  • Return to the Sea - Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto

    Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto spent two weeks at the Laband Art Gallery creating his "Floating Garden" salt-scape. He used 275 pounds of Morton Table Salt to create this 33 x 26 foot drawing.

  • Return to the Sea - Closing Ceremony

    On December 8, 2012 people gathered at the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles to sweep up 275 pounds of salt from Motoi Yamamoto's fleeting work of art "Floating Garden." Zen Buddhist Bishop Jongmae Park offered his thoughts and chants in the gallery and LMU's student taiko drum team Shin Kanarazu Daiko welcomed everyone at Dockweiler Beach with a performance. Finally, we returned the salt to the Pacific Ocean, sending it off to discover its next form. Filming and editing by Brendan Calder.

Event programming

Artist's Residency and Installation

August 29-31 and September 4-6, 2012, 10-4pm
The public is invited to come watch the artist Motoi Yamamoto in action as he creates his site-specific salt installation "Floating Garden" on the floor of the gallery.

Opening Reception with the Artist

Saturday, September 8, 2012, 4-6pm
Laband Art Gallery
Please join us for light hors d'oeuvres and drinks to celebrate Motoi Yamamoto and the opening of the exhibition.

Theatrical Performance of Matsukaze - Pining Wind

Thursday, September 20, 2012, 5pm
Burns Fine Art Center Courtyard
In collaboration with LMU's Theatre Program and Music Department, the Laband Art Gallery will present Matsukaze [Pining Wind], a Japanese Noh Theatre piece that explores many of the same themes found in Motoi Yamamoto's work; the significance of salt, grief, humankind's relation to the natural world, and the fleeting nature of life.

On the Veranda: Approach & Observation

Lecture and Performance by Hirokazu Kosaka
Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7pm
Laband Art Gallery and Murphy Recital Hall
Artist, Japanese archery master, and ordained Buddhist priest Hirokazu Kosaka will explore the themes found in Motoi Yamamoto's work placing it in the context of contemporary Japanese art and culture in general.

Gallery Walkthrough with Laband Director Carolyn Peter

Wednesday, November 28, 7pm
Laband Art Gallery
Carolyn Peter, director and curator of the Laband Art Gallery will lead a walkthrough of the exhibition.

Closing Ceremony - Return to the Sea

Saturday, December 8, 1-4pm
On this last day of the show, everyone was invited to gather the salt from Motoi's "Floating Garden" and come with us by bus or car to Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey Beach where we will return the salt to the Pacific Ocean. Artist Motoi Yamamato joined us via Skype and Zen Buddhist Bishop Jongmae Park will offer reflections. There was music from Shin Kanarazu Daiko - LMU's Taiko drum team at the beach as well as a salt tasting from Hepp's Salt Barrel, food, and drink!

This exhibition was organized by the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina. This exhibition and its programming were made possible by the College of Communication and Fine Arts, LMU Theatre Arts program, LMU Music Department, William H. Hannon Library, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, MGS Architecture, and Moon & Associates. The salt was generously donated by Morton Salt (Newark, CA).