Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Skip to main content
Kelly Akashi: Formations
Flame-worked borosilicate glass in the form of flowers and lost-wax cast bronze in the form of a hand holding on to the flowers

September 21, 2023 to February 18, 2024

Formerly On view at MCASD

Kelly Akashi (b. 1983, Los Angeles) is known for her materially hybrid works that are compelling both formally and conceptually. Originally trained in analog photography, the artist is drawn to fluid, impressionable materials and old-world craft techniques, such as glass blowing and casting, candle making, bronze and silicone casting, and rope making. Encompassing a selection of artworks made over the past decade, Kelly Akashi: Formations features a newly commissioned series in which Akashi explores the inherited impact of her family’s imprisonment in a Japanese American incarceration camp during World War II.

Through evocative combinations that seem both familiar and strange, Akashi cultivates relationships among a variety of things to investigate how they can actively convey their histories and potential for change. She often pairs hand-blown glass or wax forms with unique and temporally specific bronze casts of her own hand, each a unique record of the slow-changing human body. Akashi’s interest in time—embedded in the materiality of many of her processes—has led her to study fossils and botany, locating humankind within a longer geological timeline.

Organized by the San José Museum of Art, Kelly Akashi: Formations is the first major exhibition and catalog of Akashi’s work. The exhibition will be on view from September 21, 2023–February 18, 2024 in San Diego, following presentations at the San José Museum of Art and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle.

Kelly Akashi: Formations
is organized by the San José Museum of Art and curated by Lauren Schell Dickens, Chief Curator. The presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is organized by Jill Dawsey, PhD, Senior Curator, MCASD.


“Must-see arts events in Southern California this fall.”
Los Angeles Times

“If you need to be convinced that art hits different in person, go see 'Kelly Akashi: Formations.'”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Akashi’s practice extracts meaning from the ore of object relations, striking at the heart of our attachment to things.”


At MCASD, Kelly Akashi: Formations is generously funded by the Teiger Foundation. Individual support for the exhibition is provided by Barbara Arledge, Jennifer Levitt, Garna Muller, and Nora and Fritz Sargent. Development of the exhibition at the San José Museum of Art was provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Fellows of Contemporary Art.

Operations and programs at MCASD are made possible by the generous contributions of the Museum's Board of Trustees, MCASD Giving Circles and Members, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture through the Organizational Support Program, the E.A. Michelson Foundation, the G.A. Foster Legacy Foundation, The Getty Foundation.

Related Events

Kelly Akashi Members' Preview

Kelly Akashi: Formations Opening

Kelly Akashi: Formations Opening

Lora Mathis Book Release: The Snakes Came Back

History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige (1991)

Terrarium Workshop with Joshua Moreno

Artist Talk: Kelly Akashi

Artist Talk: Kelly Akashi

Free Third Thursday

Rea Tajiri: "Wisdom Gone Wild"

Related Shop Products

Kelly Akashi: Formations (catalogue)

MCASD Kelly Akashi Formations Pin

Limited edition print

Related Press

Top: Cultivator (Hanami), 2021