Monument Cute

“Formidable Fragments” by Kathy Aoki, associate professor of studio art, created a post-apocalyptic world where cute once ruled all.

Only fragments remain: a hunk of granite that’s half a whisker, and stone carved to make the oval hollow of a Hello Kitty eye. They once adorned the great Hello Kitty monument, 65 feet across—a Mt. Rushmore of feline cute. Did you ever visit? It’s a story and installation created by Kathy Aoki, associate professor of studio art, for “Formidable Fragments” at the Berkeley Art Center last fall.

The monument was carved into the Yukon Mountains by a visionary artist who once created a mash-up between Hello Kitty and Velma Dinkley—the brainy, glasses-wearing, turtlenecked character from Scooby Doo. Visitors to the remnants of the monument also saw picket signs carried by Hater Girl—who protested the culture of cute Hello Kitty promoted. “What I’m trying to deliver to you is how ridiculous this investment in cute culture is,” Aoki says. It’s a message delivered with a nod and a wink—along with the serious questions about having a brain to think and a mouth to speak, and not being afraid to use them.

post-image Visitors to the remnants of the monument saw picket signs carried by Hater Girl—who protested Hello Kitty's culture of cute. View full image. Photo courtesy Kari Orvik
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