Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sculpting with light and shadow and drawing with pins and credit cards

The other day a reader suggested I take a look at an online article about  called Kumi Yamashita - a Japanese artist based in New York who creates
  • animated shadows and perspective distortion as artwork installations
  • portraits by rubbing and by using pins and thread and warp and weft
A constant theme of her work is the use of everyday materials to create art.

I investigated further and would now HIGHLY RECOMMEND you also take a look.

I think she's quite remarkable and amply illustrates the notions of
  • artists seeing the world in a different way; and 
  • how an artist can perceive possibilities for making art in a variety of ways from everyday objects in daily world.

An Introduction

Specifically, my reader suggested that I looked at one image of a shadow of a woman sitting on a chair.

It turns out that the woman did not exist and the artwork was created through a wood sculpture lit from a specific angle to create the illusion of the shadow sitting on a chair.

I never like to stop at one article and started looking around - found her website - and was truly impressed by the range of media used and the image /  illusions - or artwork - created as a result.

Artwork Galleries on the website of Kumi Yamashita

I highly recommend you take a look at her website - where you will find galleries relating to:

Light and Shadow

The Light and Shadow gallery is just full of exploration of different ways of creating images of people using light and a formed shape created out of paper or carved wood or whatever. The work Chair was the first to be drawn to my attention.  However I actually find others more interesting

You can see her using the wooden building blocks of a child, a child's wooden letters and numbers, creating origami profiles in coloured paper of a face, which are the repeated in cast resin etc etc.

Here's a video of some of her work

Portraits are also a theme of her work.  These are produced in three different ways
  • rubbing
  • a single unbroken thread
  • weaving


The Rubbing Gallery has a series of portraits. The process is somewhat similar to brass rubbings - except Kumi rubs with graphite on Japanese paper using people's expired credit cards (and moves them around under the paper) to create their portrait. The portrait of Samuel Beckett in his own words was created through rubbing graphite onto Japanese paper over plates which were embossed with passages of text from his handwritten notebooks (feels like maybe 3D printing might have been involved here as well)


She creates portraits using a solid white wooden panel, thousands of tiny galvanized nailes and a single unbroken thread which is wound around the nails in patters to create a monochrome face with tonal features.

Warp and Weft

She also creates portraits by taking a fabric made of two different coloured threads and pulled out strands of the lighter thread to create a face - in an enormously effective manner.

Viewing an Exhibition of the work of Kumi Yamashita 

This is a video of somebody visiting an exhibition of her work. He forgets to adjust focus at times but it demonstrates the artworks from different angles

About the Artist

This is from a profile of the artist by a gallery
Kumi Yamashita studied at the Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, and the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. She has exhibited extensively worldwide and recently completed several public commissions in Tokyo, Glasgow, and Seattle.
Her work has had a lot of press coverage since 1994

Her practice seems to involve quite a view artist in residency and visiting artist programs.

Her work is in a number of public collections in Japan, the USA, China - and Glasgow!

Three of her pieces are coming soon to a new exhibition of historical and contemporary silhouettes opening in May at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C.

More about Kumi Yamashita

I didn't stop at her website. These are articles about her work and include interviews - and I very much recommend the first one.
Kumi’s methods and materials go beyond the confines of traditional media, transforming one medium into something else. With great attention to detail, Yamashita’s works are exhaustively complex and precise— yet they remain deeply human.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks once again Katherine, I feel as though I have been on a long journey exploring another world. Loved the detailed example of tacks and a single unbroken thread. As you say Kumi is quite remarkable. The results of her work have a quality of softness, nothing jarrs, though her extraordinary techniques are varied and compelling. Very special indeed I think, I'm now in need of coffee.


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