“Colors Help My Heart and Mind Heal”: Hiromi Tango, the artist who uses rainbows to delight the world | art

FFrom her studio in Tweed Heads, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, artist Hiromi Tango is known for creating rainbow art to help with her mental health and the health of others. However, for the two years prior to the pandemic, she wore only white: her way of mourning the environmental impact of humanity, evidenced by the bleaching of coral reefs.

Grief was personal, too. Tango wanted to metaphorically “purify” her spirituality, genes, and memory. So, she covered herself white house paint For Bleached Genes, the photography series that was “based on my dad being bed-ridden and suffering from dementia, sometimes not realizing who I am.”

As we speak, the 46-year-old Japanese-born artist is in Hobart to unveil her new work rainbow dream moon rainbow: A vibrant playground and meditation space inside an ornate Hobart warehouse, as part of the Dark Mofo Festival. The rainbow boards, pallets, and human-sized mouse wheels were drawn and manufactured by independent artists and craftsmen on Apple Island; They are scattered across multiple rooms amid rotating rainbow projections. It’s an Instagram-ready space for immersive selfies; At its peak so far, there was an hour-long queue outside to get in.

Rainbow Rainbow Dream Moon by Hiromi Tango, in Dark Mofo 2022 Tasmania.  Image courtesy of the artist and Dark Mofo 2022, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Tango greets visitors at the Rainbow Dream Moon Rainbow, at Dark Mofo 2022. Photography: Rosie Hastie

In 2021 TEDx talkTango coined the word “rainbow,” which is a combination of a brain and a rainbow, and told her audience that when a rainbow occurs, “you might also see other people who are intrigued and look at the sky… We feel so lucky to see rainbows, it makes us happy.” Extremely “.

On the morning of our interview, I tested positive for Covid-19, and was confined to a Hobart hotel room for a week. That same morning, I saw a large rainbow across kunanyi/Mount Wellington and sent a photo to Tango, who responded with a wave of heart and rainbow emojis. “I was sending you healing energy and rainbow energy… so… it’s no accident!” she writes.

Tango grew up in a strict Buddhist family beneath the misty mountains on the Japanese island of Shikoku, which could only be reached from the mainland by boat. She says that women from her community do not usually speak in the presence of men. Over the years, she developed anxiety and depression, which she attributes to a combination of nature and nurture.

“I grew up with silence,” Tango says, as she gives me a tour of the Rainbow Dream Moon Rainbow on her iPhone. “My mom and I communicate mainly in nonverbal language.”

Tango in her home studio in Tweed Heads.
I am very talkative in English. In Japanese, it’s a little different”… Tango in her studio at Tweed Heads. Photography: David Morris Smith / Okoli

Tango developed a stutter in childhood. When she was thirteen, a teacher suggested that she learn English, reasoning that speaking and singing in a new language might freshen her speech to flow. The advice appears to have worked.

Today Tango cuts an extroverted figure, wearing a yellow jacket, silver scarf, and pleated skirt with vertical rainbow stripes, and her nails painted a different color. Although she usually wears short hair, it grew long during the pandemic and now sits on her head, in a bun tied up by one of her daughters. It is granted for abundant and very sincere desires of positive energy for others. “I’m very talkative in English,” she declares. “In Japanese, it’s a little different.”

Materials found in Tweed Heads Studio by Hiromi Tango.
Materials at Tango Studio. Photography: David Morris Smith / Okoli

Why not speak her mother tongue as much? “We have no occasions, to begin with: In Japan, less is more. My way of speaking is not really culturally acceptable.”

Tango now talks to her mother, Reiko, on the phone three times a day. “She was 74 when I really started talking,” Tango laughs. Her mother began speaking after her father “verbally allowed her to make decisions”, before his cognitive abilities deteriorated.

My mother asked [of] I, Hiromi, you are the voice of many, many people; You are the dream. Mom thinks I’m a rainbow. Just be yourself – and keep speaking the truth. “

Tango met her Australian artist partner Craig Walsh, when he came to do an art residency at her university in Tokyo. He is ten years older. “He’s an extraordinary artist,” she says. “He’s my mentor. I suggested him for his art. I fell in love with his art. I told him, ‘I’ll do anything for your art.'”

When Tango was 21, the couple moved to Australia, and now have two daughters, Kimiyo, 13, and Mikiyo, 11. residence, where they toured regional cities for two years, photographing individuals from diverse cultures sharing their personal histories. Tango encouraged participants to come together and sew clothes by hand, exploring topics of social bonding and mental health that they would come back to over and over again.

Tango’s psychological healing journey – in her art and in her life – began with a Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Norman DoidgeThe 2007 bestselling book, The Brain That Changes Itself, argues that the brain can reset and change connections in response to new information, in what is known as neuroplasticity. “This book was absolutely amazing,” she says.

Hiromi Tango presents a display of her installation, Red Room, at the Sydney Gallery of Contemporary Art in 2017.
Tango presents her installation, titled Red Room, at the Sydney Gallery of Contemporary Art in 2017. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

In 2016, she began collaborating with another neuroscientist, Dr Emma Burroughs of the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, by making a public performance inspired by Queen Victoria’s Market in Melbourne at night: tentacles of material hung above a stall. Writing about the project from a neuroscience perspective, Burroughs emphasized that “the brain is essentially a garden, and what we put in it nourishes it”—a central idea in Tango art.

Tango and Burrows teamed up again, unveiling them wheel for the Science Fair in Melbourne as part of My mind An exhibit in early 2022, where humans are encouraged to run in the rainbow wheel of a human mouse, with sensors to measure activity. The idea is to “exercise as a mood medicine,” encouraging people to work through novelty; The resulting data will be analyzed to study how humans interact with the wheel. (Dark Mofo gallery includes two rainbow wheels for a human mouse.)

Mouse wheel in the Rainbow Dream Moon Rainbow, in Dark Mofo 2022.
Tango mouse wheel in the Rainbow Dream Moon Rainbow in Dark Mofo. Photography: Rosie Hastie

Pay Burrows cooperation to Type: “Rainbow is rare, and our brains are primed to handle the rare,” due to a mechanism that alerts us to danger. But rarity can also be fun, as Burroughs tells me: “I think there is something very beautiful in a dark gray sky suddenly transformed by light.”

So, could the scarcity of rainbows positively affect our mood, Tango suggests? “It depends a lot on your point of view,” Burroughs says. “We are largely driven by things that make us feel happy…we love food, we love warmth, we love communication, we love human touch. We love novelty. A lot of people are looking for new things because they make us feel good. Well, I think there will be a link strong between them [seeing] the only rainbow in Dark Mofuand a sense of contentment.”

Rainbows certainly provided joy to Tango during the epidemic, as she lived near the northern rivers. “I’ve never seen so many perfect double rainbows, refracted by water, with a calm day,” she says. “Colors help my heart and mind heal, and maybe these beautiful colors allow people to connect as well. This is my wish.”

Tango’s next job is to design a set and costume for the new Dancenorth show wayfinder, for performances in Townsville in late June and the Brisbane Festival in September. Does she dance by herself? “All the time!” announce. “I will dance for you.”

The Tango holder holds the holster up and tells her “We really need to go”; More interviews awaiting. But Tango is already starting to gain speed as she rushes up onto her rainbow circuit platform. She rotates her hips and alternately moves each bent arm up and down, free and happy for now.

  • Rainbow Dream Moon Rainbow and Dark Mofo runs until June 22nd. mental in Science fair in Melbourne It runs until June 18. Steve Dow traveled to Hobart as a guest at the Museum of Old and New art (Mona).