Film explores the life and art of Yayoi Kusama

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BRATTLEBORO — The Architecture + Design Film Series, shown monthly in Brattleboro and Burlington, will screen "Kusama: Infinity Acts," an exploration of the life and art of Yayoi Kusama on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. at 118 Elliot. The screening is free and open to all.

Yayoi Kusama's installation "Infinity Mirrored Rooms" is the toast of the town among art-lovers worldwide, but for decades the artist was an underdog, a struggling artist with everything stacked against her: the trauma of growing up in Japan during World War II, life in a dysfunctional family that discouraged her creative ambitions, sexism and racism in the art establishment, mental illness in a

culture where that was particularly shameful, and even continuing to pursue and be devoted to her art full time on the cusp of her 90s. In spite of it all, Kusama has endured and has created a legacy of artwork that spans the disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation art, performance art, poetry and literary fiction.

"Kusama: Infinity" sheds light on the artist, tracing her tumultuous life and how it has affected her art, and it ends with a return to Kusama's hometown of Matsumoto, Japan. Director Heather Lenz began following Kusama's career in the early 1990s, when she was living in a psychiatric hospital and still relatively unknown in the art world.

"I could never in a million years have anticipated that she would become so successful while I was making the film," Lenz said. "Kusama is a living artist and continues to do a lot of exciting things. I didn't want it to just end [the film] with the latest thing she's made and date the film. Instead I became interested in how she'd come to be accepted in her hometown of Matsumoto. For decades they had not understood her because she was so ahead of her time and was doing things that were so different from the expectations there. I felt that was a nice way to wrap the movie up, because it's a universally relatable thing."

The Architecture + Design Film Series selects diverse films celebrating design in all its various forms. Their success in Burlington led local architect Jim Williams, who designed the popular 118 Elliot, to extend the series' reach to the opposite end of the state in Brattleboro with support from the American Institute of Architects Vermont Chapter (AIAVT) and numerous local business and individual sponsors. Now the monthly screenings are held simultaneously in Burlington and in Brattleboro at 118 Elliot through April 2020. Film showings are free and open to all, presented to foster understanding and stimulate conversation about the impact of design and beauty in our daily lives.

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