In the early afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday, most of Atlanta was buzzing with what some might call unfathomable anticipation and excitement for what would be unceremoniously described as 14 punts and four hours of offensive ineptitude. Along with my engaging companions for the day, I found myself full of anticipatory butterflies for another type of entertainment altogether.
As we MARTA’d into the city, it felt like we were surrounded by Patriots jerseys on all sides. I might have been amused by the lone Rams fan I spotted if I wasn’t preoccupied with my own claustrophobia. Mercifully, our stop was the Arts Center and not many jersey-clad sports fans opted to stop (wild guess here, but I’d wager tailgating is not a familiar custom for patrons of the Woodruff Arts Center).
In many ways, it was fitting that we inadvertently purchased our advance tickets for the Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the High Museum of Art on the same day that our city would be invaded by, from my own observations, a surprising number of New England sports fans. Though we didn’t spend seasons cheering on Yayoi Kusama’s creations, our pilgrimage into Atlanta to experience the artist’s work marked a super event all on its own.
And when I take off my purple prose hat, I can say that getting tickets to Infinity Mirrors on the same day as the super bowl is just exactly the type of cosmic slipping-on-a-banana-peel joke that I’ve grown accustomed to in my twenty-odd years on this planet.
Still, the High was a welcome haven from the stuffy MARTA ride. Once inside, we had the gift shop and line of other museum visitors to occupy our attention. It wasn’t long before the super bowl was far from our periphery (in truth, this is where most sporting events end up for me, abandoned somewhere in a narrow corner of my mind).
Aside from double-tapping Instagrams of the captivating installations and a third-party commentary about waiting in lines, I knew next-to-nothing about Kusama’s work and the exhibit itself. I was in for a treat.
“With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved. In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars. All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe.” – Yayoi Kusama
Yes, the lines were long. The High was Infinity’s last stop on a tour of North American art museums, so people were understandably crowding in for their last chance to glimpse the exhibit. Even with the extended wait (about 20-30 min per installation), there was plenty of eye-candy to appreciate as you shuffled in line.
I loved immersing myself in Kusama’s weird, often fantastic world dotted with hippie counterculturalism and yes, a great deal of polka dots. Exploring her art and the ideas behind each installation was a singular experience that I was fortunate enough to take part in, even for a day. I left the exhibition feeling a renewed sense of appreciation for the universal comedy also known as my life. In the words of Kusama herself, “Our Earth is only a polka dot among the million stars in the cosmos.”