Heather Lenz, a former Wexner Center for the Arts film intern, debuted her documentary “Kusama – Infinity,” about groundbreaking Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, last Thursday at the Wexner Center for the Arts.
The documentary, which took Lenz 17 years to produce, follows Kusama through her many years as an artist in which she experienced underappreciation and even theft.
Kusama is known for her various infinity rooms, an art form that uses mirrors to create an endless repetition of reflected images, that have been installed across the country in the past several years, and most recently at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She has been an active artist since her childhood.
Lenz said she first had the idea to film a female artist after she completed an undergraduate art history class at Kent State University, where she learned that for every 1,000 male artists, there are only five female artists.
Lenz said she was highly discouraged from making the film by her peers and professors because of their unfamiliarity with Kusama.
“I thought the film would help shine light on her,” Lenz said. “It was really clear to me that her contributions to the American contemporary art world were not properly recognized.”
Lenz said she faced many challenges while making the film, such as organizing international travel to Kusama’s self-admitted home in a psychiatric institution, and funding for translators and travel expenses.
“The movie was a really good example of how we can all shape our own success through talent,” Melissa Starker, public relations manager of the Wexner Center, said. “One of the biggest takeaways from this is that it wasn’t always easy. Another [takeaway] that you hope that the artist demonstrates is that talent will prevail.”
The Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors installation will be available at the Cleveland Museum of Art until Sunday, Sept. 30.