Written by Natasha Ponda
Who is Yoko? This defined my initial curiosity walking into the Vancouver Art Gallery. Since I’m one who’s heard the name by way of her relationship to John Lennon, I was excited to get to know, through her work, who this female artist from Japan could be. The answer? It didn’t matter. Because her current show ‘Growing Freedom’ intends to explore and blur the lines between Art, Audience, and Artist. Where does one end and another begin? You probably have to go to find out.
Your journey through the gallery splits into two segments with a lot of fun pockets of exploration along the way. One part communicates the preoccupations and artistic questions of Yoko the Individual, the other is an intimate invitation into the love and art of Yoko and John. These two pieces of her story help to inform us how she furthers big ideas by way of her unique mode of art creation. Like her mission to advocate for peace while ensuring to stay light-hearted about it. Bringing you the iconic ‘Bed-ins for Peace’.
Under ‘The Instructions of Yoko’, you become a vital component of action and participation. Some people hammered nails into a canvas, another climbed a ladder to stare at the ceiling with a tiny magnifying glass. On the evening that I attended, the audience came to define her mode and message – less passive, more active. Peering, moving, and performing the same actions, I felt spontaneous but also part of something bigger.
The show reminds us that we are all capable of action, and attending becomes proof of our ability to carry ideas beyond gallery walls and into the world. Yoko reminds us of the art of play, exploration, and hope, where the presence of others enriches our understanding of her message of peace. Ultimately, ‘Growing Freedom’ will challenge preconceived notions of art, awaken your inner-child, and revitalize the spirit through spontaneous discovery.