Countering Gravity with Noguchi

Abigail Doan | Studio
2 min readOct 2, 2019
work by Isamu Noguchi at The Noguchi Museum | photo: Abigail Doan (2017)

These days, these reports, these times. All filled with so much gravity.

[ *gravity (from Latin gravitas, meaning ‘weight’) ]

I am freshly reminded, as I traverse the grasses and pebbled shores near my rural lakeside home and studio, to witness the movement of branches, wild grasses (weeds), and the ripple of persistent waves on the lake’s surface.

Sometimes powerful in a sudden storm but also so weightless and restorative.

historic millstone near my home, one of a pair | photo: Abigail Doan

Like a mental millstone, also, that turns weight-defying wheat or grains into substantive stockpiles for future sustenance.

anatomy of a millstone via Wikipedia

These moments of drifting, musing, and processing somehow brought me back to a few favorite quotes by Isamu Noguchi, whose museum in Queens, New York, is always a reliable touchstone for me:

It is weight that gives meaning to weightlessness.

The attractions of ceramics lie partly in its contradictions. It is both difficult and easy, with an element beyond our control. It is both extremely fragile and durable. Like ‘Sumi’ ink painting, it does not lend itself to erasures and indecision.

When the time came for me to work with larger spaces, I conceived them as gardens, not as sites with objects but as relationships to a whole.

And as additional inspiration for weightlessness or simply play, the exhibition, In Search of Contoured Playground, is on view at the Noguchi Museum through February 2, 2020.

[ all images are credited above ]



Abigail Doan | Studio

projects exploring the intersections of site-specific landscape phenomena, art lab/design methodologies, nature-based solutions, and cloth/textiles as metaphor