with Ayumi Shibata
Tucked inside clear glass vessels are Ayumi Shibata’s regal architectural vistas and layered cities enveloped by trees and vines. The Japanese artist is known for her elaborately constructed paper sculptures that fill small spaces like books and jars or occupy entire rooms, all of which are alluring and immersive as they draw viewers in to the enchanting, dream-like environments. Because the artist uses solely white paper, each sculpture highlights the intricacies of her cuts, and the details are enhanced even further when illuminated. That soft light source creates depth and shadow, as well, and Shibata describes the latter as adding a spiritual dimension to her works.
The artist recently finished two large commissions, one to accompany singer Ryoko Moriyama on stage and another for the KITTE shopping mall next to Tokyo station. You can follow updates on those in addition to other pieces on Instagram.
Share this story
Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) designs intricate landscapes using layers upon layers of white paper. Some of her sculptures are miniature, whereas others are immersive installations, and all are brought to life with the play of light and shadow, which create “movement” throughout her pieces. The works feature architectural domes, cave-like forests, and swirling suns hovering over tree-filled cities. These picturesque places aren’t based on a particular location but what the artist “hopes and believes the future of the planet could look like”.
Shibata’s ethereal landscapes envision a world in which humans and natural forms coexist, and she describes her pieces as having a “Yin and Yang” element. Paper represents Yin, the material, and the ways the works emit shadows correlates to Yang, the invisible world. “The light represents spirit and life, how the sun rises and breathes life into the world,” she explains. “I believe my pieces are a place to observe the material world and the visible one.”
The physical elements have a deeper meaning for the artist, as well: In Japanese, Kami means god or spirit but also paper, a sacred material in the Shinto religion. “Invisible ‘Kami’ spirits dwell in various objects and events, places, as well as in our houses and in our bodies,” she says. “I use my technique to express my thankfulness to the Kami spirits for having been born in this life. Each piece of paper I cut is a prayer.”
Shibata began constructing these sculptures when living in New York. She would visit a church to meditate and escape the noise of the city, and it was when she observed light illuminating stained glass that she was reminded of her love of working with paper. The artist explains:
The city was full of noise. Everything, people, time goes so fast and moves rapidly, and I needed a quiet space to go back to myself. One day, I opened my eyes after meditation and saw colorful light flooding the floor through the stained glass. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me of a memory from childhood where I used to cut black paper and stick colored cellophane behind it to make a ‘paper’ stained glass piece. I got the tools on my way home and tried it that night. From that moment, I continued to cut paper.
Currently, Shibata is working on an installation called “Inochino-uta, Poetry of Life,” for an exhibition later this year. The large-scale project is made out of 108 pieces of paper connected by strings and suspended from the ceiling. To view more of the artist’s work, visit her Instagram or website.
Share this story
Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) constructs intricate paper cities and natural landscapes that both fit in the palm of her hand and are expansive enough to pass through on foot. Using dozens of layers of paper for a single project, Shibata carves miniature houses, clouds, and tree-filled forests that eventually are illuminated in glass vessels, stored safely in a book, or erected in large-scale installations.
The artist tells Colossal that she doesn’t use pencil outlines, in part because the white paper isn’t durable enough to be erased if there’s an error. Instead, she envisions the three-dimensional shapes she wants to create and begins cutting. “White paper expresses the yang, light, (and) the process to cut expresses the yin, shadow. When the sun shines upon an object, a shadow is born,” she writes. “Front and back, yin and yang, two side(s) of the same coin.”
Shibata also relies on the Japanese word “kami”—which translates to paper but also to god, divinity, and spirit—as she considers the relationship between humans and nature that turns up in her work. “The world of paper that unfolds within the glass expresses the micro world, which is our human world, the Earth, the universe, and other universes and dimensions. The life-sized forest installation expresses the macro world, which is outside of our universe and the unknown worlds.” Each time someone walks into a room with one of her more expansive pieces, she thinks it’s possible “we could meet, communicate and coexist with Kami, which exists but we can’t see.”
To check out more of Shibata’s structural projects, head to her Instagram.
Share this story
Japanese artist Ayumi Shibata uses traditional methods of Japanese paper cutting to create miniature cities within vessels of glass. Her chosen materials reference the delicate relationship humans have with our environment and natural forces of our world, while also relating to the Japanese translation of “paper.” In Japanese, the word for “paper” is “Kami,” which can also mean “god,” “divinity,” or “spirit.” Kami are omnipresent in the Shinto religion and reside in the sky, ground, trees, and rocks.
“Kami move freely beyond time, universe, and places, appearing during events, as well as in our houses and our bodies,” said Shibata on her website. “These spirits also dwell in paper. In the religion of Shinto, white paper is considered a sacred material.”
Using this charged material, Shibata attempts to construct a sculptural dialogue about how we relate and respond to our natural world. Some of Shibata’s work is included in the three-person exhibition Passion Paper at Galerie Atelier Du Genie in Paris through March 27, 2017. (thnx, Laura!)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.