From Naturally Dyed Paper, Kanako Abe Cuts Exquisite Works Connecting Nature and the Human Touch


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All images © Kanako Abe

After several years of working primarily with white paper, Kanako Abe has shifted to color. The Seattle-based artist is known for her exquisite Kirie works—a traditional Japanese art form that translates to cut picture—and she’s recently begun to incorporate rich blue and gold sheets tinted with rust, indigo, and various materials foraged from forests. “When I dye the paper, I don’t know how the hue, color, or texture would turn out, but I just go with the flow, trust the process, and embrace the imperfection,” she shares.

This sentiment contrasts the impeccable precision of her compositions, which often feature silhouettes, hands, animals, or household objects encircled by delicate botanical filigree. The idea to pair organic dyes with meticulous cuts was born in the early days of the pandemic, when “in such state of the world, the attitude of trying to have control over something felt very stressful, so I started feeling out of alignment with my art making method,” Abe says. “This new method, which I’m still experimenting and exploring, allows me to meditate on a thought that the world around us is changeable.” The resulting works are as intricate as her earlier pieces, although they place greater emphasis on the limits and possibilities of human touch.

Head to Instagram for more of Abe’s papercuts and to peek into her process.

 

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