Consider the bar raised. This season, the most Instagram-worthy exhibit in the city became the site of one the most photogenic proposals we’ve perhaps ever laid our twinkling little eyes on. With the help of an incognito photographer and a room-sharing rule at the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror’s exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum, AJ popped the question to his bride-to-be Jan in “The Soul of Millions of Light Years Away” room. She said yes, and an impromptu engagement session courtesy of Erin Scott Photography ensued.
But it’s not all that easy to plan a surprise, photographed, proposal in the most popular room of the most popular exhibit in the city. In fact, AJ and Erin scouted the exhibit a few days before the set up. (“AJ was a museum member before this exhibit opened so he had access to multiple tickets,” Erin explained.) They did practice shots in each room, and Erin memorized the settings on her camera. “I was nervous, and it was tricky!” she says. “I was on rapid-fire mode the whole time.” The rules of each space vary, but this one was three-to-a-room, so they knew it was perfect for their impending surprise.
When they met back a few days later, Erin unidentified and AJ with Jan, AJ whispered to the woman in charge of the room that he was about to propose, and asked for a little more time. But rules are rules, and at the mercy of building crowds and lengthening lines, she said no. “He was actually still on one knee when they opened the door and asked us to leave,” Erin said. “People in line started cheering and yelling, ‘Give them 30 more seconds!’ It was very cute.”
Below are the resulting images, as well as a few snippets of the story Jan’ shared with her friends and family.
“AJ and I met as 18-year-olds and just as we were beginning a new, adventurous chapter of our lives. At the time, we had no idea we were meeting our life partner! We became close friends over the years by exploring backcountry sporting trips, our deep appreciation for the arts, and community projects. In 2014 and after four years of friendship, AJ confessed that he had feelings for me from the very start. We began dating and since then have continued to seek out exciting experiences.”
“A few months ago, we learned about the incredible Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Exhibit. We couldn’t wait to go! To us, Kusama’s mirrored rooms symbolize an exploration of life through reflections in a multitude of dimensions. In this way, Kusama fosters a profound idea of Connectedness.”
“On a cold February morning we stood outside the Hirshhorn, an hour before opening, and waited for our Kusama tickets. Inside the museum, we were instructed that all guests must enter mirrored rooms in groups of three to provide more people a chance to visit the exhibit. AJ, myself and a stranger approached the empty, blank walls creating Kusama’s The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away and entered. Inside, the infinity mirror room was astounding! The room seemed to be ever expanding; the light installations were beautifully introspective; and the space cultivated a meditative sense of unity.”
“As we disappeared into the mirrored black space, AJ promised that regardless of the time, place, or reality that we would always be happy together. He then asked me to be his life partner, and I said yes! Leaving the room, I saw that the third person was taking pictures! AJ had planned for a photographer to capture the proposal! We spent the remainder of the morning seeing the rest of the exhibit and were able to visit each mirrored room several times. We loved how Kusama created such a unique world, emphasized the power of each individual, imaginative component, and stimulated community engagement.”
AJ and Jan are planning to wed in Spring/Summer of 2018.
The Infinity Mirrors exhibit continues through May 14 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on Independence Avenue at 7th Street SW. The exhibit is free with time passes, available intermittently at hirshhorn.si.edu, and for a limited number of day-of walk-ups.