Japanese-Born Artist Brings Fantasies To Life In Enormous, Paper-Cut Masterpieces

This story is one in a series of four profiles on unknown American artists, selected for an exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (click here to explore the full series). Crystal Bridges president Don Bacigalupi and curator Chad Alligood split a map of the U.S. into four regions before setting off on a journey to find the best artists currently working in America. Each artist profiled here hails from one of the following regions:

Northeast | West | Midwest | South


Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun, 37

When she was a girl in Japan, Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun fell in love with the paper-cut illustrations in the children’s books of the time. But it wasn’t until she moved halfway across the world, to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, that she tried her hand at the intricate art form herself.

Moneyhun, a self-taught paper artist, is one of the subjects we picked from State of the Art, an unprecedented exhibit featuring contemporary art from across the country. For nearly a year, two staffers of the Crystal Bridges museum in Bentonville, Arkansas — president Don Bacigalupi and curator Chad Alligood — traveled thousands of miles in search of great American artists based outside of New York City’s art-world epicenter. It was a curatorial adventure unlike any that’s come before, and Moneyhun was one of 102 people to make the final cut.

Her enormous works do not sacrifice detail for size. She cuts the mythical-looking creatures and oversized faces with an X-Acto knife, in her living room. Seen in person, the shadows are as mesmerizing as the pieces themselves, playing on the gallery wall like a scene from a Balinese puppet show. Below, Moneyhun tells us about the simple appeal of what she does.