Project Description

Miya Ando, Tide 3, 2016, Patina on Woven Silver, 53.5 x 53.5 Inches

Gallery owner Nancy Toomey and curator Michelle Bello are pleased to announce a solo exhibition of works by Miya Ando entitled Atmosphere at Nancy Toomey Fine Art from May 7 to June 25, 2016, located inside San Francisco’s newest art complex Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota Street.

Curator Michelle Bello was an early champion of Miya Ando’s work back when the artist had her studio in San Francisco’s Hunters Point neighborhood before she relocated to New York City and started showing internationally. Ando’s Bay Area homecoming exhibition happily coincides with San Francisco’s visual arts renaissance featuring two major additions–the eagerly awaited new contemporary arts community Minnesota Street Project and the reopening of SFMOMA.

Miya Ando – Atmosphere, 2016, Installation View

In Atmosphere Ando will premiere her latest body of work using a pioneering technique and medium of woven silver. This material is made from pure silver fibers woven into a gossamer textile. She then uses a traditional, historic patina to transform the surface of the woven silver fabric to create light-reflecting and ethereal paintings that evoke natural phenomena. Also included in the show are works on steel, aluminum, and wood–which have been painted with chemicals, pigments, or manipulated with heat, sandpaper, dye, ink, and other applied processes.

Miya Ando, Evening San Francisco, 2014, Dye on Aluminum, 48 x 48 Inches

A descendant of Bizen sword maker Ando Yoshiko Masakatsu, artist Miya Ando was raised among swordsmiths turned Buddhist priests in a temple in Okayama, Japan. Half Japanese and half Russian-American, she grew up bilingually within two distinct cultures, spending her childhood between Japan and Northern California. She apprenticed with a contemporary Japanese master of metalsmith and now combines traditional techniques of her ancestry with modern industrial technology to create abstract paintings and sculptures.

Miya Ando, Rainbow, 2014, Aluminum and Pigment, 48 x 48 Inches

The foundation of her practice is the transformation of surfaces. Ando produces light-reflecting gradients on her metal paintings by applying heat, sandpaper, grinders, acid, and patinas, irrevocably altering the material’s chemical properties. By an almost meditative daily repetition of these techniques, she is able to subtract, reduce, and distill her concept until it reaches its simplest form. For Ando, a practicing Buddhist, the paradoxical pairing of metal with spiritual subject matter is intentional.

“My work is an exploration into the duality of metal and its ability to convey strength and permanence, yet in the same instance, to absorb shifting color and capture the fleetingness of light. It reminds us of the transitory nature of all things in life,” says Ando. “I’m also interested in drawing people into a slowed-down environment, especially in this current accelerated world. My artworks are experiential and shift as one walks around them. The longer the viewer interacts with the work, the more they change.”

Miya Ando, Mokume Gane (Silver Wood) Grid, 2016
Silver Nitrate, Dye on Wood Panel
60 x 60 Inches (Size Variable), 12 x 12 Inches (Single Pieces)

The wood panels are inspired by an ancient Japanese metal smithing technique called mokume-gane (wood grain pattern metal). Says Miya Ando, “I modified the panels by painting them with reflective silver nitrate and pigment. The result is an object which occupies a combined elemental state: wood and metal. My interest is in creating harmony between these elements and creating a hybrid of materials which call attention to their natures. The wood grain of the panels is highlighted by the silver nitrate. The vocabulary of the wood grain speaks to time and age; the rings of the wood are a chronology and history of the material.”

Miya Ando

Miya Ando received a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and attended Yale University to study Buddhist iconography and imagery. Ando’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world, including a recent show curated by Nat Trotman of the Guggenheim Museum. She has produced numerous public commissions, most notably a memorial sculpture in which she utilized a 30-foot tall piece of steel which had fallen from the World Trade Center buildings. The sculpture is permanently displayed in front of Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. A Critic’s Pick in Artforum magazine in 2015, Ando is also recipient of numerous awards including the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant. Her large-scale installation piece Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban) was featured in Frontiers Reimagined, a collateral exhibition of the 2015 Venice Biennale, in the Museo di Palazzo Grimani.

Exhibition Statement – Atmosphere (PDF)

Bio (PDF)


San Francisco Chronicle
“Miya Ando’s art influenced by heritage, ancestry” (Link)


“Miya Ando @ Nancy Toomey” (Link)


Juxtapoz Magazine
“Miya Ando ‘Atmosphere'” (Link)