Under Ayumi Shibata’s hands, paper turns into magic. Using dozens of layers of paper for a single project, she constructs whole cities and landscapes which she then places in illuminated glass vessels. The end result is both personal and spiritual. “Kami is the Japanese word meaning ‘god’, ‘divinity’, or ‘spirit’,” she explains on her website, “but it also means ‘paper’.”
Working within this cultural framework, Shibata uses the traditional method of Japanese paper cutting to bring attention to the delicate relationship we as humans have with the environment. “In the religion of Shinto, white paper is considered as a sacred material,” she writes.
But it took Shibata some time and experimentation with different materials to find her creative voice. “Because my mother is a quilt and patchwork maker, I started to play with needles, string and left over fabrics in her atelier shop and at home when I was a child,” she recalled in an interview with ModeArte. “That is the foundation of my art.”
As a teenager, she got into music, and sang and wrote songs. She switched gears after moving to New York. That was also when she started to make art pieces by paper while taking a stained glass workshop. “I enrolled in the Printmaking and Sculpture, Mixed media department for four years in the National Academy School in New York under Maurizio Pellegrin and Kathy Caraccio,” she notes. “During that time in NY, I had several group shows and two solo shows in soho,NY and Omote-sando, Tokyo. In 2015, I moved to Paris.”
Nowadays her work is showcased around the world both in group and solo exhibitions. But you can also peek into her paper cities by following her on Instagram.