Poured paperworks: a brief chronology

I began working in the poured paper medium in 1986 after visiting the Dieu Donne paper studio in New York. While watching the movements of the paper artisans, I had an”aha” moment. This is what I should pursue in Japan. After returning to Kyoto, I immediately contacted my local paper shop proprietor, and they introduced me to their family paper mill in Imadate, Echizen. I have worked there ever since.

Title:

Biwako Blue

This is the first large-scale landscape screen I made in Echizen.  I made large paper patterns to control the flow of the washi fiber.  I discovered that by doing this, I could work on each panel individually and have a composition flow consistently from one panel to the next after drying.  I made numerous colors and poured them over a dark paper ground, which acted like an underpainting and made the colors appear more vibrant.  It was a way of extending what I had learned about painting into the paper medium.  I was attracted to the texture and “voice” of paper fibers such as mulberry and mitsumata for their feather-like qualities that can be layered.  Within the patterned areas, I improvised shapes.  But in the end, an arresting image of changing light and rolling clouds was my ultimate goal.  The scene is of Chikubushima, a sacred island located in Lake Biwa.

Dimensions:
4 panels 74 x 194″

Medium:
poured mulberry and mitsumata paperwork

Edition:
unique

Year:

1988

exhibited at Byodoin Temple in a solo exhibition 1993. Exhibited at Inner Light solo exhibition at Komyo in 2021.

 



Title:

Blue Crescent Moon

I experimented with embedding aquatints printed on thin, translucent washi into the wet paper fiber.  This particular piece was constructed in my mind well before I went to the paper studio to make it.  It was exhilarating to see how the paper fibers were naturally attracted to each other.  There was no need for me to use adhesive between the layers.  I achieved a layered effect of light: moonlight appears to shine through the printed (blue) aquatints.  This work predates the beginning of the Luminosity series.

Dimensions:
4 panels 77 x 110″

Medium:
poured mulberry and mitsumata paperwork with aquatint

Edition:
unique

Year:
2009

exhibited in IMPACT: the big print 2009, and Celestial Threads, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco 2014-5



Title:

Oceanic Moon

The first large mural in the Luminosity series, Oceanic Moon, has both the quality of a large ocean or a moving sky.  I embedded aquatint prints into the wet paper for added dimension and contrast. The piece appears mysteriously in the dark, where it shape-shifts into a different night landscape, more like the open sky than the moon.

Dimensions:
5 panels 78 x 210″

Medium:
poured mulberry and mitsumata paperwork with phosphorescent pigment and aquatint

Edition:
unique original paperwork

Year:
2011

Collection: Herbert F Johnson Museum, Cornell University

exhibited in Moon, Herbert F Johnson Museum, 2018

 


 

Title:
Tsuki scroll (月moon)

Tsuki (Moon) was created with the idea of written Japanese characters and paper becoming one.  The question was posed: which came first, the paper or the ink character?  In this work, they meld together, with the paper fibers dancing around the ink characters.  There are two renditions of the character for the moon layered in with the paper.  One is under the other (and thus in reverse).  It is an abstract interpretation of a moon that dances.

Dimensions:
67 x 36”

Medium:
poured mistumata and Sumi ink paperwork mounted as a scroll Edition:
unique

Year:
2011

private collection, USA

exhibited in Moon, Herbert F Johnson Museum, 2018


 

Title:
Tiger’s Eye

This was the first three-dimensional paperwork in the Red Thread series.  I actually poured the moon panels several years before I finished the piece, and I would take it out of my drawer, look at it, and then put it away again without resolving it.  One day I looked at it and decided it needs dimension, movement, and bold contrast!  As it was on my wall, and I wanted to adhere thin pieces of tengu jo washi over the moon panels, I got out my iron, and the static electricity from ironing held the paper in place.  It also added a beautiful line to the work from how the washi folded over the moon when I pressed it.  I decided to have the pieces “float on top” so that I could roll the work and send it in a tube, so I began using silk as an underlay.  I also wanted dimension, so I started to stuff the inside of the forms with silk.  This was the beginning of a new series called “Red Thread,” which refers to the term Red Thread Zen, in which passion is used as a road to enlightenment as represented by the red thread-like forms in the image.  The Red Thread series incorporates the third dimension, as the works undulate out towards the viewer.

Dimensions:
74 x 97 “ 2 panels

poured mulberry paperwork with dyed tengu jo washi, pigment, 74 x 97,”(188 x 246 cm)

Edition:
unique paperwork

Year:
2013

Collection:  National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian

 


 

Title:
Open Wings

Image as seen in the dark:

A bird-like shape under a kimono or cloak as it unfolds, which is a metaphor for the expansion of the feminine opening up to the cosmos at night.

Dimensions:
78 x 42″

Medium:
poured mulberry and mitsumata paperwork, tengu jo washi, phosphorescent pigment

Edition:
unique

Year:
2013

 


 

Title:
Celestial Twist

A golden moon unfolds in a fan shape where the two intersect—part of the Red Thread series. The work is 3 dimensional, and I started using silk inside the translucent layers of paper the give areas of the work a dimensionality that comes out from the background.

Dimensions:
25 x 41 inches

poured mulberry paperwork with tengu jo washi, silk, and pigment,

Edition:
unique paperwork

Year:
2015

Private collection USA



Title:

The Lightness of Being

Expanding on the Red Thread series, I created this dimensional work that dances in the air and seems to defy gravity.

Dimensions:
21.5 x 48″

Medium:
poured mulberry and mitsumata paperwork with phosphorescent pigment and aquatint

Edition:
unique original paperwork

Year:
2016

 


 

Title:
The Red Line

A red 3-dimensional calligraphic mark falls over indigo rectangles to accent a feeling of gravity in space.

 

Dimensions:
45 x 21 inch paper

Medium:
poured mulberry paperwork with tengu jo washi collage, pigment

Edition: unique paperwork

Year:
2016

Book cover for Gregory Dunne’s Other/Wise



Title:

Drifting Layers

Image as seen in the dark:

A curtain-like veil floats in the wind when a viewer walks by the piece.  The movement is often subtle and can be more vigorous in a stronger breeze.  Based on the hidden becoming visible, I was inspired by the grand shrine of Ise, where a curtain hides the inner chamber of the shrine. When the curtain moves with the wind, one can briefly see inside. This is part of the Moving Layers series of paperworks.

The folding of the tengu jo washi in Drifting Layers is geometric, and there is no cutting of the rectangular sheets. This is similar to origami, though the form is my own.

Dimensions:
72 x 42-inch paper

Medium:
poured mulberry paperwork with tengu jo washi, phosphorescent pigment & stitching

Edition: unique paperwork
Year:
2017

 


 

Title:
Celestial Spheres

If we consider our place in the universe, we are like a small dot surrounded by space.  Around us are many spheres that interpenetrate our consciousness and could be seen as different worlds or planets.  They can be experienced as macro and micro-cosmos, a dialogue between infinite space beyond and the cellular level of the body. These spheres inform our memory and perception of our place in the universe. “Celestial Spheres” speaks to the infinite and the infinitesimal: how we are both cellular and vast at the same time.  By shifting the light in the gallery, the spheres look one way in the light and completely different in the dark due to phosphorescent pigments in the paper. This takes us to the edge of our perception and challenges our sense of what we think to be true.

Dimensions:
70 x 210”

Medium:
poured mulberry paperwork with phosphorescent pigment

Edition: unique paperwork
Year:
2018

 


 

Title:
From the Sea to the Stars

Image as seen in the dark:

Starting with an ancient Chinese astrology chart as inspiration, I added phosphorescent “drawings” done with mulberry fiber into wet sheets of indigo-colored washi.  After drying, I added more layers and created a spiral shape that represents early life forms and constellations.  It is a meditation on macro and microforms and has a contrasting, arresting presence in the dark.

Dimensions:
41 x 78 inch paper

Medium:
Poured mulberry paperwork with phosphorescent pigment, gold leaf

Edition: unique paperwork
Year:
2019

exhibited in Kyoen, Kyoto, Japan 2020



Title:

Lions in the Sky

Image as seen in the dark:

Witnessing the prehistoric rock engravings at Twylefontein, Namibia, and numerous animals in the wild inspired Lions in The Sky, with the lions being like constellations.

 

Dimensions:
24×42 inches

Medium:
mulberry paperwork with phosphorescent pigment, indigo & ultramarine

Edition:
unique paperwork

Year:
2020

Exhibited in Inner Light, Komyo-in, 2021



Title:

Luminous R.B.G.

Image as seen in the dark:

The Luminous R.B.G. series honors the luminous nature and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  These five paperworks are part of my Constellation series and celebrate the light and illuminating nature of R.B.G.’s stance on equal rights for all persons.  Seeing her glowing presence in the dark, we are reminded of how the arc of justice always (eventually) leads towards the light.

Dimensions:
24 x 18 inches

Medium:
mulberry paperwork, phosphorescent pigment on antique indigo cotton

Year:
2020