No artist personifies the quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” better than Yuken Teruya. His ability to take cardboard cereal, shoe and fruit boxes as well as other objects and transform them into useful works of beauty and grace brings a more noble purpose than the objects original purpose. Currently showing an exhibit at the Josée Bienvenu Gallery until March 27, Yuken Teruya turns a simple, white-wall space into a conversation piece.
Upon entering the main room of the gallery I was greeted with various cardboard boxes strategically placed around the floor. The boxes served as the video players and projectors for Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First, the artist’s five channel video installation. Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First is an entertaining and intelligent labyrinth that examines at the multi-ethnic neighborhoods in New York. The videos display the voyage of tiny paper boats as they float along the gutter of a street. The boats contain flags from Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.
In the smaller rooms of the gallery are works from Dawn, in which an object of his home island of Okinawa serves as a source of inspiration. A chrysalis placed on the edges of different items such as the sole of a shoe, end of a knife or butt of a gun changes the purpose of these random things into a home where a butterfly will be born. With subtlety, Yuken Teruya shows that anything has the possibility to transcend.
Before leaving the gallery I stopped to take one last look at Earn A Lot of Money; No Need Send Any Letter; Send Money Home First. I began to liken myself and all New Yorkers to those paper boats and hanging chrysalis. We are all floating along the streets of New York, bobbing and weaving through traffic, sometimes burrowing underneath in an effort to find that perfectly random place to nestle ourselves, create a cocoon and eventually emerge to be someone greater. It is this understated commentary that makes Yuken Teruya’s exhibit so powerful and a must see for anyone evolving in the Big Apple.
Photos: Josée Bienvenu Gallery and Yuken Teruya Studio