30 Over 30: Yoko Ono

I’ve always found 30 Under 30 lists to be depressing. What happens after 30? Are people no longer relevant? Their contributions no longer worthwhile?

On the contrary, argues Dr. Abigail Stewart, who reminds that “life is not over in the 20s and 30s.” To celebrate this fact, and the accomplishments made by women post age 30, I am kicking off a new series, called 30 Over 30.

I will start with Yoko Ono.

I first became fascinated with Yoko Ono when I was 11 years old and read about her work in a 700 pg. John Lennon biography that I carried around with me everywhere I went. I immediately became captivated by her conceptual art, because it so cleverly invites her audience to pause, gain perspective, and laugh.  For example, Time Painting instructs:

Make a painting in which the color

comes out only under a certain light

at a certain time of the day.

Make it a very short time.

Mirror Piece urges:

Instead of obtaining a mirror,

obtain a person.

Look into him.

Use different people.

Old, young, fat, small, etc.

To me, her work is like three dimensional poetry – making meaning through juxtaposing not only words and thoughts, but also actions.

Indeed, she writes that her intention with her instruction pieces is to encourage a “painting to construct in your head,” because, in your head, “A sunset can go on for days. You can eat up all the clouds in the sky. You can assemble a painting with a person in the North Pole over a phone, like playing chess.”

I also admire her intention to shift social interaction through her art. She writes:

If people make it a habit to draw a somersault on every other street as they commute to their office, take off their pants before they fight, shake hands with strangers whenever they feel like, give flowers or part of their clothing on streets, subways, elevator, toilet, etc., and if politicians go through a tea house door (lowered, so people must bend very low to get through) before they discuss anything and spend a day watching the fountain water dance at the nearest park, the world business may slow down a little but we may have peace.

Yoko Ono received critical acclaim at age 31, when she published Grapefruit, a book of instructions. A year later, she performed Cut Piece at Carnegie Hall.

Since then, she has made major contributions not only as a conceptual artist, but also as a musician and a peace activist.

Last year, at age 80, she published a new book of instructions – Acorn – and produced two singles that made it to the top of the Billboard charts.

Around the same time, she tweeted:

I could not agree more.

* All excerpts are from Ono, Yoko. Grapefruit. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1971. Print.  A more recent edition can be found here.

Categories: 30 Over 30, Career

Tagged as: ,

Join the conversation...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s