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‘A Living Mechanism’ exhibition highlights staff work at Noguchi Museum in Long Island City

The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Beller)

June 2, 2023 By John Schilling

The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City will showcase artworks by its staff in “A Living Mechanism,” an exhibition that embraces unique artistic perspectives with the goal of honoring the museum’s history. Set to open to the public with an opening reception on June 2, the exhibition will be on display in the museum’s Education Studio until June 15.

“When the opportunity to create the exhibition ‘A Living Mechanism’ presented itself, the initial goal was to draw inspiration from one of The Noguchi Museum’s missions to remain a place for the exploration of individual artistic endeavor and creative collaboration through exposure to Noguchi’s wide-ranging practice,” Orlando Lacro and Shamysia Waterman, the exhibit’s curators, said in a statement.

Left to right: Barbara Leven, Queensboro Bridge. Archival pigment print on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper. 24 x 20 in. Miwa Neishi, Vanessa. Ceramic and glaze. 5 x 5 x 5 in. Jen Blaine, Aestas. Graphite and acrylic on muslin, ceramic tile, and wood. 19 1/2 x 15 1/4 x 2 in. Orlando Lacro, i have no home. Mixed media on wood panel. 4 x 11 x 1 in. Courtesy of the artists.

In the exhibit, Lacro and Waterman, who both work as gallery attendants at the museum, aimed to create something that highlighted each artist’s individuality but also emphasized their collaboration as one collective artwork. With this approach in mind, the Noguchi Museum, itself, is highlighted in the exhibition “as a sculpture” with the featured staff representing the “instruments” contributing to its art. 

Born and raised in San Francisco, Lacro describes his art as a way of navigating his experience as a Filipino-American and coping with mental and physical health struggles. “A Living Mechanism” features Lacro’s “i have no home,” a mixed media work on wood panel with Lacro’s image and writing in Filipino Baybayin.

“The land I was born in, does not want me. The land of my blood and ancestors, does not want me,” Lacro’s work translates. “I am only cradled by the arms of my ancestors. I always walk with those who came before me and those who come after me,” the work continues. 

Waterman, also credited as “Mutant,” comes from an experimental art background with their current work exploring “spectral, nebulous and paradisiacal universes” and how this is explored through different mediums. The new exhibition includes Waterman’s “Nix,” a photograph of acrylic on adhesive printed on plexiglass with a silver frame that was used as a title image for an EP album.

Some of the exhibition’s other featured works include Barbara Leven’s archival print of the Queensboro Bridge; Joe Tokumasu Field’s “The Zero Hour,” a silver “20-20” boombox manufactured in Japan; and unarchived objects including postcards from the shop that could not be delivered and were returned to the Noguchi Museum. 

Certain works on display can even be purchased by visitors, including “Robert Glasper’s Dinner Party,” a pen and ink illustration by Jonathan Glass and the most expensive work listed at $4,500, or Cayla Blachman’s “fire” series, a collection of four charcoal and pastel on paper works that can be purchased for $250 each, or as a $900 set.

While these works are for sale, Lacro and Waterman say the goal of the exhibit is to continue the artistic legacy of Isamu Noguchi, an American artist and the museum’s namesake whose body of work included sculptures, landscaping, and large-scale public works. 

Noguchi first opened the museum as “The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum” in 1985, three years before his death in 1988. Much of Noguchi’s work was inspired by those around him, and Lacro and Waterman hope the new exhibition represents how the works of today’s artists are still inspired by him and his emphasis on working together.

Isamu Noguchi. (Photo courtesy of David Finn)

“Collaboration was crucial and arguably pertinent to Noguchi’s ever evolving career; by uplifting and representing the artists that aid in the functioning of the museum’s current standing, there is an embodiment of Noguchi’s ethos,” Lacro and Waterman’s statement continues. “As two front-facing staff curate the exhibition, there is a desire to remain current by listening and giving space to those that help support The Noguchi Museum’s existence.”

The Noguchi Museum is located at  9-01 33rd Road For more information, visit

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