Kelly Akashi, “Hybrid Life Forms,” 2019-21. Lost-wax cast bronze, 3.5 x 7.5 x 9.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Francois Ghebaly Gallery and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

SAN JOSE — “Kelly Akashi: Formations” is on view at the San Jose Museum of Art through Sunday, May 21, before touring nationally.

Akashi is known for her materially hybrid works that are compelling both formally and conceptually. Originally trained in analog photography, the artist is drawn to fluid, impressionable materials and old-world craft techniques, such as glass blowing and casting, candle making, bronze and silicone casting, and rope making.

Encompassing a selection of artworks made over the past decade, “Kelly Akashi: Formations” is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work, and features a newly commissioned series in which Akashi explores the inherited impact of her family’s imprisonment by the U.S. government during World War II. 

Through evocative combinations that seem both familiar and strange, Akashi cultivates relationships among a variety of things to investigate how they can actively convey their histories and potential for change. She often pairs hand-blown glass or wax forms with unique and temporally specific bronze casts of her own hand, each a unique record of the slow-changing human body.

Akashi’s interest in time—embedded in the materiality of many of her processes—has led her to study fossils and botany, locating humankind within a longer geological timeline. 

The exhibition catalog — the first scholarly monograph on the artist — features essays by Lauren Schell Dickens, Ruba Katrib, Dr. Jenni Sorkin; and a conversation between Akashi and painter Julien Nguyen. The book also features a special photography project by Akashi, created specifically for this publication.

The museum is located at 110 S. Market St., San Jose. Hours: Thursday, 4–9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Admission: Adults, $10; senior 65 and over, $8; members, free; children 6 and under, free. SJMA is pleased to offer free individual admission for youth (7 to 17), college students, and teachers with valid ID.

For more information, visit

Kelly Akashi, “Figure Shifter,” 2018. Steel, wing screws, cherry wood, walnut wood, stainless steel, rope, blown glass, hair, ortho litho film, bronze, cotton thread, silk thread, brass wire, 72 x 72 x 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Francois Ghebaly Gallery and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Artist Biography

Born in 1983 in Los Angeles, Akashi currently lives and works in Los Angeles. The artist graduated with a MFA from University of Southern California in 2014, studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste-Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and received her BFA at Otis College of Art and Design in 2006.

The artist has presented solo projects at Aspen Art Museum (2020) and the SculptureCenter, New York (2017). Other notable group exhibitions include the Clark Art Institute (2021); Hammer Museum’s biennial, Made in L.A. (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2017); Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, France (2017); The Jewish Museum, New York (2016); Can’t Reach Me There, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2015).

Winner of the 2019 Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation Art Prize the artist had a residency at the foundation in Ojai. Other residencies include ARCH Athens, Greece (2019) and at Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito (2019) — both of which concluded with a solo exhibition.

Akashi’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Brooklyn Museum, New York; CC Foundation, Shanghai; M WOODS, Beijing; and Sifang Museum, Nanjing, among others.

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