Sculptor Ryo Toyonaga was born in Matsuyama, Japan, in 1960. He received his BA in psychology from Shinshū University and subsequently moved to New York in 1986. After his move to the United States, Toyonaga began to question his identity and his new location. Driven by the psychological displacement of moving to a foreign city, he began to work with clay. This medium helped him to solidify his conflicting and often fleeting emotions. Between 1987 and 2003, Toyonaga built over 300 ceramic-based sculptures; intertwining themes of nature and technology, his works represent surrealistic worlds filled with mysterious hybrid creatures. Unlike other artists of his generation, such as Takashi Murakami and Kenji Yanobe, Toyonaga purposefully creates these disturbing objects, triggering memories of suffering and pain, to counter the superficiality of today’s Japanese culture.
In 2009, Toyonaga’s Mephistophelean was one of the first exhibitions held at the foundation, displaying ceramic-based sculptures created between 1991 and 2003.
[Charles Cowles Gallery, Inc., New York, NY];
Neri Oxman receives the Vilcek Prize in Design for creating forms that challenge traditional principles of architecture, product design, and fashion, and juxtapose material properties with environmental constraints.
Nari Ward receives the Vilcek Prize in Fine Arts for a body of found-object assemblage artwork that invites both a public discourse and an intimate dialogue with viewers on topics such as race, poverty, immigration, and the Caribbean diaspora identity.