Art exhibit turns trash into mindful masterpieces

The Huntington Area Art Society’s Miyuki Akai Cook, associate professor of fibers for Marshall University’s School of Art and Design, put on a presentation at the Cellar Door, located in downtown Huntington, Dec. 5.

The ‘Trash to Treasure and Careless to Mindful’ art exhibit’s purpose was to for Cook to show her artwork and concept behind each of her pieces. The presentation was part of a lecture series called the “Huntington Area Art Society” to raise both awareness and financial support to the school programs.

“During the presentation, I discussed the way in which I grew up and was raised and how I started creating art, then I went on to talk about more of my current work in which I focused my direction on myself, as well as my emotions and relationships,” Cook said. “I also described how my focus shifted from personal emotion to concerning future generations, I wanted to describe my interpretations of seeing discarded objects as raw materials instead of simply pieces of trash, and then use these materials and inspiration for my artwork. My intentions for my art creations is to make people take the time to pay closer attention and take notice of each of our actions and accept how we as humans have affected our environment.”

Cook described the artwork itself as being a vessel for a message that should speak out to an audience and evoke some sort of reaction.

“A presentation is a great way to explain the particular concept and message being expressed, as well as the materials involved, techniques used, inspirations behind the concepts of artwork and the process of creating it all,” Cook said.

The exhibit was a way for Cook to meet people in the audience who were interested in art and those who were also concerned in the community and how art could be used to express those concerns, she said.

Rachel Danford, the event coordinator who was responsible for arranging the exhibit at the Cellar Door, assisted in the presentation. Danford said the event was open to the public and there was no fee to enter the exhibit, but they did request for monetary donations at the end of the presentation.

“I actually graduated from Marshall University in the past, this has been my first year as event coordinator and hopefully there will be many more to come,” Danford said.

Cook ended her presentation by discussing her students and their exhibit of holiday themed installation artwork in the Huntington public library located in the down town Huntington area. The original exhibit period was only meant to last until Dec. 11, but the exhibitions showing was extended until Christmas Day because the librarians simply “loved the installation work,” Cook said.

“Although I would have liked to have seen more students in the audience, I was very happy with the outcome, I also understood that we are coming close to the end of the semester and many students have their own work and projects to finish,” Cook said.

Cook earned her Master of Fine Arts in Artisanry, specializing in fibers from the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design at Osaka University of Arts in Osaka, Japan.

“I had never dreamed of becoming an educator until I got the opportunity to teach as a teacher’s assistant when I was a graduate student,” Cook said. “I realized how much I enjoyed seeing these young people learn and grow in such a short period of time.”

Chelsey Stanley can be contacted at stanley137@marshall.edu.

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