The Huntington's New Homage to Nature

On May 25, Homage to Nature was unveiled at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Created by Mineo Mizuno, a California-based Japanese American artist, the sculpture appreciates wood in its natural state while highlighting related climate issues and ramifications.

Mineo Mizuno, Homage to Nature, 2024.
Photo: Elon Schoenholz/The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Mizuno was born in Gifu Prefecture, Japan in 1944. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, which has been absorbed into the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied ceramics from 1966-1968. His work has been included in collections of institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian. In Japan, his work has been exhibited in galleries such as the Shibuya Seibu Art Gallery in Tokyo and the Gallery Kasahara in Osaka. According to Mizuno’s website, after having spent most of his life in urban areas, he is “now currently situated in the wilderness, miles away from society in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California” where he draws inspiration for his work.

Commissioned by The Huntington, the sculpture measures approximately 16’ x 12’ x 13’. This immense work was made by using wood from the fallen trees of the Sierra Nevada. Through the use of reclaimed timber, Homage to Nature prompts viewers to consider its capacity as a sustainable resource. In a press release, Robert Hori, Associate Director of Cultural Programs at The Huntington, stated that “Homage to Nature will quietly invite visitors to reflect on California’s native woodlands and the active threat posed to them by climate change. The sculpture beautifully complements Mineo’s other works at The Huntington and will inspire an interesting conversation about the connections between art and nature.” His other works include Nest in the art gallery’s loggia and Komorebi - Light of Forests and Thousand Blossoms inside the gallery.

Mizuno crafted this piece by utilizing the traditional Japanese technique of “yakisugi,” which involves lightly charring the surface of wood for preservation. By using this technique, the reclaimed timber of the sculpture embodies the duality of fire. While devastating everything in its path, fire also allows an opportunity for the land to renew afterwards. As a juxtaposition, a “fire landscape” is displayed south of the sculpture, portraying growth following a fire.

Framed by the views of the San Gabriel Mountains, Homage to Nature is located in the Stroll Garden, just north of the Munger Research Center, and will remain on display for five years until May 25, 2029.