Return to the Sea: Motoi Yamamoto

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


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.