Artists and creatives often find inspiration for their work from major life events—the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, surviving a near-death experience. Such is true of Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto who, after losing his beloved sister to brain cancer in 1994, began to explore the depths of his loss through his sculptures. But the medium he works with sets him apart from his comrades: Yamamoto works with salt.
From giant sculpture pieces, such as his abandoned staircase or the tunnel that leads to nowhere, to the intricate floor “drawings” of labyrinths and mazes and swirling ocean waters, every space, every line, every bubble holds the space for memory. Why salt? It occupies a huge space in Japanese culture, important to death rituals and customs. The artist feels a close connection with salt based further on the fact that “salt seems to possess a close relation with human life beyond time and space.”
[quote] Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by. However, what I sought … was the way in which I could touch a precious moment in my memories, which cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.” [/quote]