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Art Watch : Mariko Kusumoto

Mariko Kusumoto is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

Born in Kumamoto, Japan, and Mariko is based in Massachusetts.  Mariko Kusumoto’s remarkable craft entails exquisite creations upon fabric to construct forms of elegant simplicity and evocative imagery. So delicate and novel is her craftsmanship that often her designs are incorporated into jewellery and hailed as sculptural pieces. Needless to say, she works in collaboration with fashion designers; in January 2019, her work appeared on the Jean Paul Gaultier catwalk at Paris Haute Couture.

Designers are always looking to push the boundaries of couture. And to this end they are always on the look out for ways to integrate art with fashion. Mariko truly amazes with her ability to turn textiles into delicate orbs and worn as necklaces, brooches, and rings. The pieces are often inspired by patterns or shapes found in nature. They are left intentionally ambiguous as a way to engage the imagination.

Most of the pieces are constructed with subtle polyester fabrics. A material that is both flexible in its application and extremely durable, allowing for her lightweight designs.

Why Mariko Kusumoto?

Kusumoto is fascinated by the potential of different materials and strives to bring out each fabric’s inherent characteristics and beauty. Her process involves using a proprietary heat-setting technique. This gives the fabric a new identity through reshaping it into three-dimensional forms. In addition to finding inspiration in the material itself, she is motivated by the process of experimentation, during which accidental discoveries lead to new ideas.

Kusumoto describes her work best, she says : “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; I hope the viewer experiences discovery, surprise, and wonder through my work.”

Artistic Journey

Mariko Kusumoto studied at the Painting/Printmaking Department of Musashino Art College, Tokyo. She also studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Her metalwork are a result of research that she has found and representational imagery. It is very involved and technically challenging.  Her contemporary and more recent fabric pieces have been developed after much experimentation. They demonstrate an evolution from the properties of metal to something completely opposite.  The process and the inner world of the artist is phenomenal. And during the time that she is experimenting, there is sometimes a ‘breath taking moment’ –

“I ‘catch’ those moments and develop ideas from that point.  I like the softness, gentle texture, and atmospheric (e.g., translucent) quality of the fabrics I use.  In all of my work there is always the insistence on skill and craftsmanship.” Says the artist. The respect she has for the fabric, metal and the ideas that inspire her – are apparent in her glowing creations.


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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