Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson
Kengo Kito (b. Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, 1977) is one of Japan’s most innovative contemporary artists. Known for his exhilarating and ethereal conceptual art installations, he repurposes everyday objects and connects modern materials with ideas rooted in traditional Japanese philosophy, culture, and art.
At the Hudson River Museum, using more than 2,100 colorful hula hoops, Kito conceives a monumental, site-specific work symbolizing humanity’s interconnectedness and our relationship with the Hudson River. Unity on the Hudson is the inaugural exhibition of the Museum’s transformational new West Wing galleries, which include a cantilevered glass overlook with dramatic, three-sided panoramic views of the Hudson River and the majestic Palisades.
Kito is particularly drawn to hula hoops, not only because of their universal appeal for children and adults alike, but also because of the resonance of circles in Zen Buddhist philosophy. The circle, or ensō, can symbolize many things, from infinity and cycles of life to cooperation and togetherness. In addition, the form is both perfectly whole and empty, inviting us to contemplate fullness, the void, and the nature of reality.
The artist envisions an immersive experience where visitors walk around and under the multicolored intersecting circles as a metaphor for our bonds with each other and with nature. Curving lines, created by deconstructing and reconnecting different hoops, flow throughout the galleries like water, heightening our awareness from one point, ourselves, to something larger—expansive, yet fluid and intertwined.
Unity on the Hudson creates an uplifting and memorable space in which to reflect on community and collective action, particularly ongoing efforts to protect the Hudson River ecosystem. Kito notes, “The process of transformation of consciousness through connection is an element that is crucial in the effort to improve the condition surrounding the River . . . environmental issues are the responsibility of not just one singular person but of the community as a whole.” The exhibition, offered in English, Japanese, and Spanish, will include an interactive area where visitors are invited to contribute their personal stories about interconnectedness and unity.
Kengo Kito received a BFA from Nagoya University of Fine Arts and Music in 2001, and completed his postgraduate studies at Kyoto City University of Fine Arts and Music in 2003. In addition to his work as an artist, he is currently Associate Professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Unity on the Hudson is a triumphant return to New York for Kito, who had a residency and a dynamic show at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University in 2009. The artist first showed a hula hoop installation in 2021 at Japan House, Los Angeles; this is the first time one of his hula hoop environments has been exhibited on the East Coast.
Significant support is provided by the New York State Senate and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The exhibition is made possible by the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation and the City of Yonkers, Mayor Mike Spano.
Additional assistance for HRM exhibitions is provided by the County of Westchester.
Kengo Kito: Unity on the Hudson is organized by the Hudson River Museum.
With gratitude to JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles for their collaboration and for providing upcycled materials from the 2021 exhibition RECONNECTING: A Vision of Unity by Kengo Kito, and to advisors Miwako Tezuka, PhD, and David Janes, Global Citizens Initiative.