A wisp of a woman from Japan, Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun, imagines an American native woman standing nine feet tall. From her fantastical imagination, she fashions her stunning “Savage Noble.” She first draws out her image and then cuts out the nine foot giant from black paper. As a student trying to learn simply how to cut smoothly with an exacto knife, Hiromi’s skill and creativity as a paper cutting artist amazes me. I feel immediate respect for her as someone who is “having fun…working with her hands”. The time and dedication she takes to design and create her images is truly out of this world and a wonder to behold.
The “Savage Noble” greets you as you walk into the Cummer Museum on Riverside Avenue. The immensity of the artwork is grand and the detail created within is intricately beautiful. Thumbs up to the Cummer Museum who had the ingenious idea to match local artists with a piece from the Cummer’s permanent collection to create “Reflections on the River” an exhibit which showcases the history of the St. Johns River. Although I have not visited this piece myself, I plan to before it closes Oct. 25th.
Hiromi Moneyhun’s fantastical drawings came to life from the creative mind of a woman who fell in love with children’s books’ illustrations containing a wood cutting relief look. Her own paper cut images look like they are drawn in ink or created from ink on a wood cutting. You can view these influences in her artwork presently at Jacksonville Beach Public library where I visited recently to see her work. In the image below we see a young girl, Hiromi’s child who she calls her muse. Notice the playful humorous mood created in the image which is part of the artist’s style. The oversized toe and physical stance show a girl who is dancing playfully. Although this is very delicate and precise work creating these images, I can feel how Hiromi dances with her art giving her joy in creating the fantastic almost mythological images.
A close up of a young girl’s face is also part of the exhibit at the library. As I look at this image again, I appreciate the delicate lines which interweave to create an exquisite portrait. The contours of the face are formed by interweaving circles. Examining the hair is even more intriguing as I study the paper cuttings that create a look like wisps of black hair. Zooming in on the image, I see the eyelashes are intricately drawn and cut to look soft and natural. I can especially feel the texture of her hair in this portrait, and I am attracted to this image of a young girl who unabashedly looks straight into my eyes with youthful innocence.
The next piece is on plastic glass I believe. I like the position of the fingers on the hand which is very animated with movement. I also like the different patterns that are used to fashion the hand and its gesture.
I feel I have gleaned from this artist that making art is an activity that is meditative and can cure the blues of your soul. I am inspired by the power of art to uplift the human spirit in dark periods of our lives and I felt closer to understanding the artist when I read that she began art as a young child but resumed as a need for a mental outlet when she was taking care of her ailing mother-in-law. She said, “I just had to do something for myself.” She had an exacto knife from her childhood art work and began drawing and cutting out paper again. She had given her husband a piece of her artwork years earlier and it inspired her to revisit and rekindle her creative juices.
Last year Hiromi was referred by MOCA to the Crystal Bridges Museum of America to participate as a part of “Discovering American Art Now” a program featuring contemporary American artists. One of her pieces and a motif in her artwork on display there is Moth1. I particularly like this piece because of the textures created by the careful paper cutting. Zooming in on the image, I can see hairy texture especially on the body and head of the moth. I at first I did not understand why an artist would want to focus on a lowly moth for the subject of a piece that would take many hours, days, weeks maybe to complete. However, I remember times I have touched a moth and felt some soft texture rub off on my hand. Perhaps moths are also more appealing because Hiromi works in black and white and the moth is a neutral color, very unlike a butterfly.
In closing, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my 2-D Design instructor at UNF Ash McDonald for introducing me to the art of paper cutting. It is difficult, challenging, but ever so rewarding to transform a landscape from your mind or a fairy tale into images and designs from cutting paper.
http://hiromipapercut.com/ her website & gallery to view her work
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/crystal-bridges-hiromi-moneyhun_n_5940760.html Japanese-Born Artist Brings Fantasies to Life in Enormous, Paper-Cut Masterpieces