Connecting the visual and performing arts at Columbia’s Miller Theatre

Vibrant swirls of color welcome visitors to Columbia’s Miller Theatre, thanks to large-scale artworks by Japanese-born, Harlem-based visual artist Tomo Mori. The artist used thousands of transparent vinyl pieces and shapes created through paint-saturated sponges to create two site-specific works, Concerto Encircling and Sakura Sanctuary.

These works synthesize natural and artificial forms—the pixilated falling petals of cherry blossom trees, for example. Of the murals, Mori says, “Aggregates of small bits of color create oblique, flowing forms similar to those found in nature, like waterfalls and trees, which are then filtered and disseminated through digital media.”

Mori’s installation represents the fourth collaboration between Miller Theatre, a performing-arts hub, and Columbia’s Wallach Art Gallery. Together, they have commissioned visual artists to transform the walls of the theater for each performance season. These collaborations not only enrich the experience of audiences who come to Miller Theatre for performances, but also draw new visitors.

“We’ve noticed over the years that we have visitors who are now coming to see the mural that are not connected with the performance,” says Melissa Smey, executive director of the Miller Theatre. “The murals have started to have an impact on their own.” Learn more.

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