The small wonders of nature inspire delicate fabric sculptures [Interview]

What a wonderful fabric sculptures…

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

Artist Mariko Kusumoto is fascinated by fabric and is led by her instinct as she makes artworks that are based on her interests. The pieces, which are occasionally practical, frequently have an oceanic theme, and aquatic life, such coral, serves as inspiration for the shapes. The items have a billowy feel to them as if they could be under the water, and they go very well with the suppleness and transparent properties of fabric.

Since 2008, Kusumoto has been utilising cloth in her work. But before that, she concentrated on metalwork for nearly twenty years. She chose to try making with cloth after encountering an especially tricky steel item and has since been “discovering the boundless, limitless opportunities” of the medium. Kusumoto intentionally cultivates a spirit of playfulness and surprise in her fabric art, and it shows in the multi – coloured products.

Kusumoto graciously allowed us to interview her about her artistic history and current projects. Read the exclusive conversation from My Contemporary Met by scrolling down.

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

What artistic training do you have?

I chose to major in fine art at a high school since I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was in junior high. There, I gained knowledge of various forms of art, including drawing, statue, design, and art history. I had a terrific time, and after that I attended an art school. I therefore had a strong desire to be an artist from a young age.

My area of study in art school was oil painting when I first arrived in Japan. When I had the option to major in either oil painting or printmaking at the start of my junior year, I chose to move to printmaking with a concentration on steel.

Since I was a small kid, steel has been a substance I am acquainted with. I grew up in a Buddhist temple that was established 400 years ago, so I was encircled by both the beauty of the natural world and objects that were centuries old, like the wood that had lost its paint and the stone steps that had hollows in them from years of rainwater dripping from the roof. The intricate steel and wood decorations that were created by master craftsmen and placed around the temple also captivated me; one of my tasks was to polish the decorations on the altars. I have always had a fascination with steel.

When I was learning photo-etching methods in class, I realised that the steel attracted me more than the pictures on the paper. I started creating three-dimensional steel artworks using photo-etching methods after enrolling in a brief steel sculpture class. After that, I spent almost 18 years working with metal until beginning to work with textile about eight years ago.

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

How did you get into working with fabrics?

Since 1995, I have mostly focused on metal building. However, in 2013, after finishing a complicated and technically demanding metal sculpture, I felt the urge to abandon strictly realistic images in favour of something more creative and natural, as well as with a different material. The end outcome is my fabric design work.

Metal’s full counterpart is fabric. The cloth I use is soft and has a delicate feel, and I appreciate the ethereal quality of its permeability. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I can do with fabric. I’m on a quest to discover the limitless potential of this substance.

I’ve studied and experimented with various media and forms of art throughout my life, and now I think like they’re coming together as one.

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

How has your present body of work been influenced by your metalworking methods?

I use steel methods in many various ways in my present fabric work. Fabric is a soft material; therefore, I employ steel to reinforce my structures. To make the fabric forms, I create my own steel moulds. I create brooch backings. Additionally, I incorporate steel and fabric into the pattern. I’m very happy I understand how to operate with steel since my previous experience with it has been incredibly helpful.

You opt to elaborate on some points in your approach that you describe as “stunning” at that time. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

I frequently have brilliant ideas, but thinking them up in your head and really dealing with substances are completely different situations. Working on works allows me to learn a lot of things that I never would have known otherwise.

Every time I work on something, new doors frequently open up that lead to a piece going in a whole other path and showing more options.

The concepts seem to keep growing and the opportunities seem limitless. I’ve already learned so much and come up with so many ideas that I doubt I’ll be able to implement them all while I’m still here.

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

How did you get the ability to trust your gut?

I give myself a lot of leeway, and my originality and adaptability are not constrained by classifications or norms, which I think is crucial for an artist.

What sort of information has it disclosed?

Any kind of art can inspire and inspire me; I have a passion for design, graphic design, architecture, drawing, printmaking, and style. I don’t work in those areas, but I still think that art has no boundaries because it is all one. Your types of qualitative and instincts are trained and become more sophisticated when exposed to a variety of excellent art.

Textile Art by Mariko Kusumoto

Who or what inspired your most recent body of work?

I draw inspiration from nature and immediately learn from it. As an illustration, I once discovered a stunning brain coral at a flea store. I became so interested by it that I researched its construction and used cloth to reproduce it. The best instructor is nature.

Sea life, vegetation, the microscopic universe, diatoms, cells, etc. are among my interests. I’m always impressed by the beauty of nature and attracted by shapes that have been intentionally created.

I really adore sea animals because they are works of art in and of themselves, and I am constantly in awe of their magnificence. I adore watching documentaries about the deep ocean whenever I have the chance. The animals that I have never seen before never cease to astonish me. There are so many species out there that we have yet to identify. There are many secrets in the water.

Textile Art by Mariko Kusumoto

I also like how most of my art tends to have an air of uncertainty. I want to convey the observed subjective perception of coming across the subject in environment with the fabric components, not only to copy environment or the natural world.

In addition to being motivated by environment, the actual substance also inspires me. Being exposed to many kinds of stuff on a daily basis is significant to me. I occasionally come across content that fascinates me, draws me in, and sparks my creativity.

One of the most well-known common materials is fabric. Even while the word “fabric” seems simple enough, there are a huge variety of fabrics, each having distinctive qualities that can elicit a range of experiences or feelings. There are materials that evoke the enigmatic or the ethereal, those that encourage tranquillity, those that evoke the cold feeling of dampness, those that have a soothing juiciness, those that indicate delicacy, subtlety, etc.

I create textile art that reflects my passion for the substance itself. Steel, the substance I worked previously with solely for many years, is fundamentally the reverse of fabric. I try to highlight the fabric’s natural qualities and attractiveness. I give it a new personality by bending it into three-dimensional sculptures using a patented heat-setting method. As I adore the translucent quality of cloth, I can make whimsical, enigmatic, and ethereal settings by manipulating layers and adding or removing components.

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

What is ahead for you? Anything you can let us know about coming up?

I’m now preparing for a solo exhibition that will take place in May 2022 at the Morikami Museum in Florida. I’ll display both practical fabric works and sculptures. Although working on a wider scale is challenging for me, it can also lead to new opportunities. It will, in my opinion, lead me in a brand-new direction.

Ocean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko KusumotoOcean-Inspired Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto

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