May 2007, WM Issue #3: Kako Ueda interview

May 2007, WM Issue #3: Kako Ueda interview
Kako Ueda, Bitura, hand cut black paper, h: 23 in., w: 24.5 in., 2005

It takes Kako Ueda more than a month to cut one piece of paper. That sounds like a long time, until you see what she’s able to do with it. Originally from , Kako’s work was inspired by the traditional practice of stencil making used to make patterns for kimonos. It is a delicate, exacting art that tends to take up much of her time. Luckily, she was able to squeeze in a few questions via email:

Q: The Japanese culture seems to have an infatuation with paper arts. Why do you think this is?

A: One of the reasons that Greeks and Romans made so many impressive stone and marble sculptures is because these materials must have been abundant in these areas. So the same logic would apply to Japanese people’s love of paper. Japanese traditional paper (wa-shi) is made from certain trees that are easily cultivated in their soil. And there is something in the Japanese psyche that finds beauty in impermanence and fragility.

Q: Do you feel that the transient quality of paper inherently lends itself to the themes of life and death apparent in your work?

A: What is attractive about paper to me is that it is easy to manipulate… but at the same time, under the right conditions, some paper materials (books/manuscripts) will survive for centuries. Life can be fragile but, at the same time, very tenacious.

Q: Do you select paper resistant to deterioration?

A: I usually use ph neutral paper.

Q: Do you repair ripped pieces with tape or glue?

A: Ripped/torn pieces go in the trash.

Q: Would you be offended if someone wanted to make wallpaper from your designs?

A: I have been thinking of making my own wallpaper using my designs for a future installation. I just have to research where to go and have someone make the wallpaper for me.

Q: Your work seems to convey a certain reverence for bugs and spiders. Do you smash the ones that come into your house?

A: I usually let them go outside but roaches are a problem! They try hard to come back in. I see spiders in my apartment and it is a good sign—they eat other small flying insects. Just because I cut bugs doesn’t mean that I love handling them and sleeping with them in my bed. I learned from some science book that they are a very important part of our ecosystem and if they disappeared from the earth tomorrow, the entire ecosystem would collapse in a very short amount of time. From the Earth’s point of view, insects and arachnids are very important members of the ecosystem and us humans are more like pests, polluting the environment.

While she may not exactly love bugs, she certainly doesn’t mind working with them. Some of Kako’s pieces are currently in the show entitled “Flowers and Insects” in the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Other upcoming shows include the Kentucky Derby Party and Art Auction Benefit at Smack Mellon on May 5th and the George Adams Gallery where her work will be exhibited in The Drawing room from May 16th to June 23rd.



whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.

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