Hello! 40 Artists Reinterpret Hello Kitty at the Japanese American National Museum

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The end of October marks the beginning of the world’s first official Hello Kitty convention at Moca’s Geffen Contemporary, and right next door the Japanese American National Museum is saying “Hello” to the Kitty fans by exhibiting over 40 contemporary mixed media works all created with Hello Kitty as the subject. “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” is part art exhibition and part historical and sociological curated examination of how Sanrio’s Hello Kitty has influenced the world. This, after all, is the 40th anniversary of said kitty. Some of the artists on view at this incredible curated show include Audrey Kawasaki, Gary Baseman, Kazuki Takamatsu, and Simone Legno for Tokidoki.


The art portion the exhibition is curated by Jamie Rivadeneira, the founder and owner of Melrose boutique pop-culture emporium JapanLA. Rivadeneira says:


“Her simple design makes the perfect canvas for artists to interpret her through their unique style. Several different mediums, including sculpture, paint, ink, ceramics, animation, plush, photography and wood were used to show that Hello Kitty can be interpreted in many ways without ever losing her core essence.”

kazuki takamatsu

Hello Kitty is a simple design with a simple concept. Friendship through consumerism. This novelty has accumulated power and ingrained itself into the minds of generations of children and adults, across countries and cultures, forming into the looming monolith of branding and ideology that Hello Kitty is today. Collectors of stationary and pencilbox ephemera and creative types alike continue to be inspired by the wee kitty, supposedly self-described as only “five apples” tall. Perhaps centuries from now archeologists will wonder why this white cartoon cat has such a pervasive grip on today’s youth culture. In the mean time, artists will continue to paint her form, like the fuzzy feline Venus she is.

baseman kitty

“Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” runs Oct. 11 2014 through April 26, 2015. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for youth 6-17 and free for kids 5 years and under. Tickets can be bought here.


Simone Legno’s “Kittypatra” for tokidoki statue is enormous. I’m going to guess maybe eight feet tall. Or more. She looms over you. As you reach the end of the exhibit, after countless smaller kitties, this is it. This is the one. The big one. The Great Kitty. She gazes serenely into your soul. There’s nothing left to lose, but that which is not kitty. Goodbye.


All photos in this post are by the talented Billy Bennight.

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