“When I started to work in three-dimensions, I became free,” says artist Mariko Kusumoto. The Japanese multi-media artist, now based in Massachusetts, has found fantasy in the ordinary since she was a little girl, digging through her grandmother’s dresser for treasures to play with.
Today, she uses a transparent synthetic fabric to bring her imagination to life, creating wearable art that blurs the line between fashion and sculpture. She folds and molds the fabric into enchanting forms inspired by the sea: coral-shaped necklaces, brooches and rings as smooth and weightless as bubbles, pieces that even the Little Mermaid would envy.
At the heart of Kusumoto’s art is wonder and discovery. “Working with layers and adding moving parts creates playful, mysterious and ethereal atmospheres. I feel endless unlimited possibilities in these materials,” she shares. “Many of my pieces come from accidental discoveries. During the experimentation process, a breathtaking moment sometimes happens. I catch those moments and develop ideas from that point.”
Kusumoto recognizes her Japanese identity in her work. Layered in brilliant colors, her pieces bring to mind wagashi, the exquisite, Japanese confections that are often served during tea ceremonies. Having grown up in a 400-year-old Buddhist temple where her father was a priest, she values the kind of enriched beauty in simplicity which is typical of Japanese aesthetics, but she believes her work can be appreciated by anyone.
“My work reflects various, observable phenomena that stimulate my mind and senses; they can be natural or man-made. I ‘reorganize’ them into a new presentation that can be described as surreal, amusing, graceful, or unexpected. A playful, happy atmosphere pervades my work. I always like to leave some space for the viewer’s imagination,” she says. “I hope the viewer experiences discovery, surprise, and wonder through my work.”