Little Creature. Part of the new work Spill by artist  Mika Aono on display at Barn Light East through June 30

Lost and Found

A new installation by Eugene’s Mika Aono at Barn Light East

In a video, artist Mika Aono tells us she is interested in compulsive behavior. After a short while watching, we get an idea the artist is referring to herself. Aono compulsively collects things other people might throw away, and her new work Spill is composed of pieces greatly inspired by her collections.

Eugene Contemporary Art presents Spill at Barn Light East through June 30.  

The idea for the exhibit — that feelings and emotions spill out — is the theme connecting an otherwise-varied collection of prints, small sculptures and wall- and ceiling-sized installations. It is Aono’s interest in compulsive behavior, as it relates to collecting, and her passion for found objects that I found most compelling. Old rusty nails, copper shavings and used Styrofoam pieces are among the materials collected and used for her art.  

None of the individual pieces in the exhibit are titled, which reflects the artist’s desire for viewers to come to their own conclusions — as well as to Eugene Contemporary Art’s printed statement, found on the flip side of the artist’s, that Art is Hard.

Little Creature is the name that some at the show’s opening used to refer to a small sculpture made of copper shavings lit from inside with LED lights. The shavings were leftovers, strips taken off a copper plate, part of a process printmakers use to give the plate a beveled edge. Instead of throwing the shavings away Aono saved them. Little Creature was born out of this collection of shavings. 

The building blocks for the large installation hanging from the ceiling are packing peanuts. These Styrofoam pieces stem from a collection that took the artist five years to build, saving them each time she received a package at work.

Looking at the Styrofoam with an artist’s eye, she found the shapes of each foam peanut oddly amusing. In general, she is inspired by found objects because, as she states in her video, “they were once part of something else.” It is this idea, that objects have history, which attracts her to working with used things. 

Mika Aono was, herself, once part of something else. She was born and raised in Japan before she moved to the United States in her 20s. Now she lives in Eugene, where she works as a studio technician and has the opportunity to collect things that are usually thrown away, like copper shavings and packing peanuts. 

See the video at

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