Chie Hitotsuyama spent much of her childhood surrounded by the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of her grandfather's traditional paper-strip factory in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Much of the machinery was quite old and wooden, and the infusion of traditional practices helped to shape Ms. Hitotsuyama's view of her life and her art.
She began her artistic career as an illustrator, working on two-dimensional surfaces and when she turned to making sculpture, her sense of line, depth and proportion carried over, permitting her to make sculptures of great intensity and depth of meaning.
She chose to make life-sized sculptures of animals of the land and sea using an uncommon medium.
Her sculptures are created using discarded newsprint rolled into strings, a technique that draws on her childhood, her family legacy and her sincere desire to understand her own place in the living world.
"Old thrown out newspapers attracted me as a medium, not only because they are easily obtained, but also, they are an accumulation of history and contain stories of human behavior. I see the correlation in how humans repeat their own histories as well as experience the cycles of life and death."
"When I create, I carefully form contours and curves with each single string I make from discarded newspaper. These single strings, collected together, become the surface of an object, and eventually, they become a shape or a form, and an animal appears."
She reflects on this connection between her art and her life...
"Since the first sculptural piece I made, a rhinoceros, I have continued to sculpt forms of animals and while doing so I have become acutely aware of the life force in all beings. I admire the animals I study. I am in awe of their strength and survival in unforgiving nature."
"I also became strongly aware of what life is all about and what it means to live. Each animal and human being, including myself, has its own life and will be gone someday. I felt that similarity, that we are all equal. I also admire animals."
Her subject matter spans the great diversity of life on earth, and at the same time, strikes common and universal themes...
"The strength of animals trying earnestly to live in unforgiving nature impresses me, their strength is much like the way pieces of newspapers rolled one by one, together, increase in strength as I work with them."
Ms. Hitotsuyama has a deep connection with her art, and views her work as instructive to herself...
"I am in awe of the strength and ability of animals to survive. They have led me to my way of life and the theme of my life. By creating animal sculptures that convey their respective lives, I'm trying to find out how I should live."
(The following two videos were made by Ayako Hoshino, US Producer for Ms. Hitotsuyama's PAPER TRAILS exhibitions)
(the following video is an extended version of the above video)
PAPER TRAILS - US Tour - Exhibitions of Ms. Hitotsuyama's Art
Ms. Jomjai Srisomburananont, Jai & Jai Gallery Director :
"Chie Hitotsuyama - My Thoughts...
"Before having met Chie and her team we were in communication for almost a year via email. I had seen photos of her works dozens of times and each time always in awe of the intricate details of her sculptures. As a gallery owner, it's in my nature to analyze and critique the pieces of works that come through. For example, the Mother and Child Manatee that was part of the 'Paper Trails' exhibition at Jai & Jai Gallery; these are massive paper sculptures that hung from the ceiling of the gallery space that made spectators feel tiny in comparison.
"The gallery space, only being 350 square feet created the perfect environment for Chie's sea animal pieces to literally speak for itself in such a minimalistic way that transcends the boundaries of critiquing the work. Her works are literal and every texture and nuance is intentional. It was almost as if we were intruding on these pieces of works - as if we were invading their space and in a sense with Chie's works and her appreciation for animals and their habitats, it translated as such. The entirety of the 'Paper Trails' exhibition was curated with such precision and intent that the course and flow of exhibition itself felt as if you were swimming with the animals.
"That evening after Chie's opening when everybody had left, I had the opportunity to stand alone in the space with her works. Each piece has a life of its own. What struck me most are the eyes of the sculptures. She is able give life and expressiveness to these animal sculptures that I have never seen before with any other works. She can create these muscle textures with the hand-rolled twines and intricately bends and folds them in such a way that makes them seem like the animal is caught in mid-action of swimming by. Each roll, turn, fold, color, design and braid is planned and intentional. Her control and structure is evident in all her works and is a true reflection of her work ethic and it stands out in every piece she creates.
"It was a true privilege and honor to work with Chie. Her attention to detail and the discipline and rigor she must have to sculpt each piece is mind blowing. The gentle way she hand-rolls each twine and sculpts the piece as she feels her way through the animal piece is art in-itself. The final output of her hours upon hours of sculpting and molding is her gift to us. Stunning and breath-taking are understatements of her talent. One must stand in the room where her sculptures reside. It is then, that you can truly appreciate her passion and true love for what she does. Until that moment, when you can be in the same room with her pieces, will you only understand what I am talking about."
JEFFREY BRESLOW GALLERY - Chicago - Sep. 23, 2016 - Jan. 15, 2017
Ms. Paola Guzman, Director, Jeffrey Breslow Gallery :
"Jeffrey Breslow Gallery premiered "Rock Paper Show," on September 23, 2016 - "Rock Paper Show" is a gallery exhibition featuring the paper sculptures of renowned Japanese paper artist Chie Hitotsuyama, and the abstract stone and steel sculptures of Chicago-based sculptor Jeffrey Breslow.
"Visitors find it hard to believe Hitotsuyamas sculptures are created using recycled newspaper, shaped into remarkable life-size animals with a soulful presence, stemming from their magical realism and large scale. Hitotsuyamas sculptures have become the talk of the moment here at the Jeffrey Breslow Gallery. The reaction people give her work is fascinating. Through Hitotsuyamas work, you can see her appreciation and devotion for the animal kingdom. There have been a handful of visitors in our Gallery, due to the incredible success Chie has had. Everyone is excited to see the pieces he or she saw on television, or newspapers right in front of their eyes."
MOAH:CEDAR Art Gallery - Lancaster - Oct. 2, 2016 - Jan. 7, 2017
The exhibition at the MOAH:CEDAR Art Gallery in Lancaster, California, runs through Jan. 7, 2017. Ms. Hitotsuyama will be artist in residence during her exhibition.
Ms. Andi Campognone, Curator & Museum Manager, MOAH:CEDAR :
"I became interested in Ms. Hitotsuyama's work because of her direct connection with reuse/recycle concepts. As MOAH is a municipal museum, it is part of our mission to support City directives as the City of Lancaster is actively working to reduce its carbon footprint and introduce education to the community through the arts - so you see how we would be thrilled to share Hitotsuyama's art and engagement to the Antelope Valley as part of the Green MOAH Initiative.
"As far as how the exhibition resonates with the mission of MOAH:CEDAR that is best described by MOAH:CEDAR's liaison Robert Benitez as 'the three core elements of MOAH:CEDAR's Mission include engagement through captivating exhibitions, innovative artists and dynamic programming all which describe Chie Hitotsuyama: To Hear Your Footsteps'"
"The life-like vibrancy and expressions are quite remarkable considering Chie works with newspaper as her medium of choice. One of the things I take away from this is the recyclable, ecological factor and how it instills a certain ethereal feeling of evolution. She is extraordinary and that is one of the aims at Avant in terms of what we bring to the market."
• Kokusai Pulp and Paper Factory magazine article featuring Ms. Hitotsuyama and her work
• These Wildlife Sculptures Are Yesterday's News (Literally) - an article on Colossal
• Japanese Artist Transforms Old Newspapers Into Expressive Creatures - an article on The Creators Project
• Japanese Artist Tightly Rolls Newspaper To Create Incredibly Realistic Animal Sculptures - an article on Bored Panda
Sponsors of Ms. Hitotsuyama's US tour include: The LOS ANGELES TIMES (which donated 1,000 lbs of newspaper), KUBOTA, YAMATO TRANSPORTATION, and VANTEC HTS FORWARDING, Ltd., (photo credits: Ayako Hoshino)
Aria Gannon of aPR Creative Marketing Management is a consultant on this project and provided support with placement and overall strategy for Ms. Hitotsuyama's exhibitions.