2021 Benefit and Isamu Noguchi Award

October 5, 2021

2021 Isamu Noguchi Award

Learn more about the 2021 Isamu Noguchi Award honorees, artist Shio Kusaka and architect Toshiko Mori.

Video by Ager Meillier Films Inc.

On Tuesday, October 5, 2021, The Noguchi Museum held its annual Benefit and presentation of the eighth annual Isamu Noguchi Award to artist Shio Kusaka and architect Toshiko Mori.

Hosted by Museum Director Brett Littman, the evening began with a cocktail reception in Isamu Noguchi’s former studio building, located across the street from the Museum and never before open for an event. The program continued with the presentation of the 2021 Isamu Noguchi Award. The event then moved across the street to the Museum, with a special freeform dining experience in the Museum’s open-air sculpture garden and indoor-outdoor gallery—the first dinner to take place among Noguchi’s monumental later works. The evening also included a silent auction, and guests had the opportunity to explore the Museum’s galleries and new exhibitions.

The Benefit raises critical funds for the Museum’s exhibitions, educational programs, and research, and for the care for its renowned collection.

For more information, contact Melissa Gatz at benefit@noguchi.org or 718.204.7088 ext 229. To make a fully tax-deductible gift in support of The Noguchi Museum in any amount, give what you can here. All supporters will also have a chance to win a private tour and cocktails at the Museum for up to ten guests.

Give What You Can

FUTURA2000 holds his hand-painted Akari UF4-L6, partially folded. The surface of the tall vertical...
FUTURA2000 with Akari UF4-L6. Photo: ShiLei Wang

Benefit Auction

Eight unique Akari light sculptures customized by artist Leonard McGurr (FUTURA2000), which were featured in the Museum’s 2020–21 exhibition Futura Akari, were offered. Bidding closed during the Benefit on Tuesday, October 5, at 9 pm ET.

Auction Details


The Isamu Noguchi Award
Photo: Evan Scott. ©INFGM / ARS

The Isamu Noguchi Award

Established in 2014, the Isamu Noguchi Award honors the tenets that Noguchi expressed in his life’s work and acknowledges highly accomplished individuals who reflect similar ideals in their own times. The Award thus celebrates innovation, global awareness, and Eastern and Western cultural exchange.

2021 Honorees

Shio Kusaka portrait
Photo: Wood Kusaka Studios

Shio Kusaka

Shio Kusaka is known for her innovative and open approach to the ceramic medium, crafting vessels and forms that are both functional and abstract. Painting and incising on thrown porcelain and stoneware surfaces, Kusaka merges sculpture and drawing, representation and minimalism. Her work synthesizes from a broad range of visual culture, from ancient Japanese pottery to Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings, asserting the role of ceramics within the realm of contemporary art. The Award is presented in recognition of her mastery of her medium, and the thoughtfulness with which she stretches and extends it—a quality she shares with Noguchi.

Kusaka was born in 1972 in Morioka, Japan, and moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s. After receiving her BFA in 2001 from the University of Washington, Seattle, she moved to Los Angeles, where she currently lives and works.

In early 2020, the historic Neutra VDL Studio and Residences in Los Angeles held a solo exhibition of Kusaka’s work, curated by Douglas Fogle and Hanneke Skerath. Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, held the two-person exhibition Shio Kusaka and Jonas Wood, in 2017. Kusaka’s work has also been included in important group exhibitions, such as the Whitney Biennial 2014; Going Public: The Napoleone Collection – International Art Collectors in Sheffield, Graves Gallery, Sheffield, England (2016), which traveled to Touchstones Rochdale Museum, Rochdale, England (2016–2017); Recent Acquisitions in Asian Art, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio (2017); and Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019–22).

Kusaka’s work is held in public collections worldwide, including the Allen Memorial Art Museum; The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Voorlinden; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; and Whitney Museum of American Art. Kusaka is represented by David Zwirner; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo; greengrassi, London; and The Modern Institute, Glasgow.

Toshiko Mori portrait
Photo: Ralph Gibson

Toshiko Mori

Born in Kobe, Japan, in 1951, Toshiko Mori, FAIA, is the founding principal of Toshiko Mori Architect PLLC, and the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Through nearly four decades of influential projects, her practice has continually emphasized a sensitivity to ecology and history, innovative and intelligent use of materials and light, and functionality in the most expansive sense. The Award is presented in recognition of her diverse body of work—from early work designing for clients such as Commes des Garçons and Issey Miyake, to exhibition designs for the Museum of Modern Art and Cooper Hewitt, to numerous residential, cultural, and civic projects around the globe. Her integration of the surrounding environment in her designs, her thoughtful sensitivity in selecting materials, and her advocacy and activism for sustainability in architecture reflect values that she shares with Noguchi, with whom she interned while an architecture student at Cooper Union.

Mori served as chair of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard University GSD from 2002 to 2008. She was inducted to the Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design in 2020 and has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2016. Toshiko Mori Architect PLLC (TMA)’s recent work includes master plans for the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch and the Buffalo Botanical Gardens; “Thread: Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center” in Sinthian, Senegal; “Fass School and Teachers’ Residence” in Fass, Senegal; and the expansion of the Brown University Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Their projects have won awards from Architizer, The Plan, and AIA, and have been internationally exhibited, including at the 2012, 2014 and 2018 Venice Architecture Biennales. TMA has been listed in Architectural Digest’s biennial AD100 in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, and in Elle Décor’s inaugural A-List Titans in 2021. Recent publications include the Fass School and Teachers’ Residence in Architectural Record, the Mott Street Development in Architect’s Newspaper, and three features in Architectural Digest for the Fass School, Treeline a private art barn, and a beach house in Suffolk County, New York. Last year, TMA published two new monographs, one with a+u magazine for their February 2020 issue and another with ArchiTangle Berlin titled Toshiko Mori Architect: Observations.

Mori’s recent awards and honors include the Louis Auchincloss Prize from the Museum of the City of New York in 2020; the ACSA Tau Sigma Delta National Honor Society Gold Medal in 2016; Architectural Record’s Women in Design Leader Award in 2019; and the AIA / ASCA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education in 2019. Her project “Thread: Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center” was awarded the AIA 2017 Institute Honor Award for Architecture and was one of the winners of the inaugural FIBRA Award for Contemporary Plant Fiber-based Architecture in 2019. This year, the Fass School was one of the recipients of the AIA Architecture Award.

White Cube
Andy Augenblick and Alex Ross
Susan Kessler
Toshiko Mori
Jennifer and Malcolm Nolen
Sundaram Tagore
Spencer Bailey
Blum & Poe
Maximilian Coreth and Marine Hartogs
Eileen and Peter Jachym
Satoru and Hiroko Murase
Phyllis and Leonard Seevers
Micah Spear
Kulapat Yantrasast
David Zwirner Gallery
DeWitt Stern, a division of Risk Strategies Company
Herman Miller
Marian Goodman Gallery
Laura Paulson and Andrew Fabricant
Billie Tsien and Tod Williams
Rumiko and Laurent Adamowicz
Naomi Antonakos
Peter Brock and Anna Kondolf
Kathy Buto and Tom Korns
Peter Coombe and Betty Chen
Cristina Grajales Gallery
Charles S. Crow IV
Andrea and David Holbrook
Robin and David Key, RKLA Studio Landscape Architecture LLP
Sueyun Locks
Jennifer and Steven Lorch
Rekha and Anuj Puri
Bruce Ratner and Linda E. Johnson, Brooklyn Library
Christine and John Rumely
Jennifer Sage and Nicolas Grabar
Nicholas Sands
Yoshiko and Paul Sheard
Ian Wardropper and Sarah McNear

Sarah Arison
Richard Armstrong and Dorsey Waxter
Inma Barrero and Ion Yadigaroglu
Candace and Rick Beinecke
Noreen and Kenneth Buckfire
Jane Dresner Sadaka and Ned Sadaka
Fiona and Stan Druckenmiller
Dun-Rite Specialized Carriers, LLC
Anne-Marie and Peter Embiricos
Farhad and Alex Farman Farmaian
Katherine and Luke Fichthorn
Christiane Fischer
Eileen and Andrew Fisher
Rob Forbes
Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
Agnes Gund
Janine and J. Tomilson Hill
Amy Hochman
Rachael Horovitz
Michael Jefferson and Heidi Mucha
Paula Kirby, Plaxall Inc.
Miwako Kurashima
Lucy W. Lamphere
Marty Margulies
Jonathan J. Marvel
Karen McDonald
Suzette and Brendan McAvoy
Bruno Nouril
Susan Oliphant
Thelma Schoonmaker
Marlies Verhoeven
Naoyuki Watanabe
Carol R. Warner and Ned Cooke
Sarah Wendell Sherrill
Anthony Williams
Richard Wright
Kazumi Yanai

As of October 8, 2021

Isamu Noguchi Award Honorees