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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels.

These paper cuts are works of art in and of themselves…

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Using traditional Japanese paper-cutting techniques, Yokohama-born artist Ayumi Shibata creates intricate cut paper sculptures. Using white paper that is translucent, her sculptures’ fine details stand out brilliantly.

I started paper cut 12 years ago when I was in New York,” the artist told DeMilked. When I was cutting paper, I could hear myself think despite the city’s constant din and the breakneck pace of my work. So, I used the paper cut as a means to refocus on who I am.

For two years, I kept cutting paper as a hobby. Following that, I enrolled in art school where I studied printmaking and mixed media for a total of four years. I’ve been doing paper cuts in three dimensions since first grade,” she continued.

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Here we have a selection of her cut paper sculptures displayed in illuminated glass vases. Have a look at some of her stunning works of art in the gallery.

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 10

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

While at art school, Ayumi experimented with clay, metal, watercolour, wood, etc., but she never found a medium with which she could truly connect. Working with pen and paper has always made me feel connected. “There’s no way to put it; I just really enjoy working with paper,” she says.

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 11

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

According to the creator, “Kami” is the Japanese word for god, divinity, or spirit. Paper is another possible translation. She went on to explain that “Kami,” or invisible spirits, “dwell in various objects and events, places, as well as in our homes and in our bodies” in Shinto, the religion she practises as a Japanese worshipper.

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 12

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

“Ya-o-yorozu no kami,” which literally translates to “eight millions of spirits,” refers to the incalculably large number of kami who coexist in every corner of the globe. The word “kami” refers to the natural world. They are unrestrained by space and time and can go wherever they want. The “Kami” also like to write. The artist explains that in Shinto, “paper is considered a sacred material.”

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 13

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

Ayumi employs her method as a way of showing appreciation to the “Kami” spirits for granting her the opportunity to experience life on Earth. She claims, “Every snip, every page is a supplication.” While engaging in contemplative practises like meditation and prayer, I find that going through this routine helps me focus and clear my thoughts. My mind and spirit feel cleansed as I cut up the paper. To bridge the gap between the “Kami” spirit’s world and our own, I must engage with the “Kami” spirit’s material.

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 14

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

As Ayumi puts it, “Paper represents Yin, also represents material/our sensible world. She explains that the empty space represents Yang and the intangible, nonmaterial world.

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 15

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

She elaborates, “Light is a symbol of life and spirit.” As dawn breaks, the sun provides the world with its vitalizing rays.

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 16

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

“I make space/Yang into paper/Yin, Yin and Yang melt together and become one finished piece,” the artist has said. “Then I light it up, light imbues spirit and life resides in.”

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 17

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

Ayumi concluded by emphasising, “I believe my piece is a place to meet the material world and immaterial world.”

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Using traditional Japanese paper cutting techniques, the artist creates illuminated sculptures inside glass vessels. 18

Image source: Ayumi Shibata

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