American artist Miya Ando descends from a family of Japanese sword-smiths and Buddhist priests—an influence that manifests strongly in her minimalist metal works. Her "Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban)," a new work, is currently on display at this year's Venice Art Biennale, and it features her signature metallic paintings in their first installation. Ando apprenticed one year with a Japanese swordsmith and she uses heat, acids, electricity, and other tools to transform steel and aluminum into a canvas for color, reflectivity, and opacity.
Ando describes her work as assimilating tradition into the present: her works directly recall the cloudy hamon, or pattern, of a Japanese sword's blade, but, in some cases, uses the same anodizing technology found in the aerospace industry. The igneous-black boards that cover "Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban)" are a traditional Japanese building material known to resist fire and are still found on buildings in Okayama, Japan, where Ando was raised.