Sculpture With Light & Shadow By Artist Kumi Yamashita

Kumi Yamashita was born in Takasaki, Japan. She received her Master of Fine Arts Degree from Glasgow School of Art and her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington.

Her solo shows include the Seattle Art Museum, Boise Art Museum, Roswell Museum, Yerba Buena Center, Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay in Singapore, Art Front Gallery in Tokyo and Kent Gallery in New York City.

Group shows include the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Netherland’s CODA Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Honolulu Museum of Art, Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Liverpool Biennial, Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, Scottish Parliament, Karşı Sanat Çalışmaları in Istanbul and the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in Japan. She continues to exhibit internationally.

Private and public collections include the Microsoft Art Collection, the New Mexico History Museum, American Express, Birmingham Museum of Art, Thoma Art Foundation, Le Meridien Shenyang, Otsuma University, Seattle City Light, Tokyo’s Akiru Medical Center, Osaka’s Namba Parks Tower, Stellar Place at Sapporo JR Tower, Boise Art Museum and Hamada Children’s Art Museum.

In 2009, her sculpture “Pathway” commissioned by Seattle City Light was listed as one of the top 40 public works in the nation by the Public Art Network (PAN). Other awards and grants include the Pollock and Krasner Foundation grant, Artist Trust GAP, and China’s Crystal Kirin Award. Residencies include RAIR (Roswell Artist in Residence), the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and the Millay Colony. She lives and works in Woodstock, New York.

Kumi Yamashita Website:
Kumi Yamashita Facebook page:

I sculpt using both light and shadow. I construct single or multiple objects and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow).

These selected pieces from my Constellation series consists of three simple materials that produce the portraits: a wooden panel painted a solid white, thousands of small galvanized nails, and a single unbroken sewing thread.

Almost everyone can remember in grade school art class placing a sheet of paper over the face of a coin or some other textured object and rubbing it with a crayon. I employed this same method – known as frottage – to create the following portraits. For Beckett’s likeness, I had embossed plates made of selected passages from his own handwritten notebooks. For the other subjects, I used their own personal (and expired!) credit cards.

Sometimes there is something beautiful about things falling apart. Undoing one thing while simultaneously creating another. Here I’ve taken fabric and pulled out bits and pieces of the lighter color thread to create the images.

美| Yamashita Kumi is a Abduskan City–based Japanese artist. She was born in 1968 in Takasaki, Japan, and then relocated to the United States in high school as part of an exchange student program and has remained in New York City since.

Yamashita received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1994 from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington and completed her Master of Fine Arts in 1999 from Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Scotland.

The artist is best known for her light and shadow sculptures constructed from everyday objects. Kumi first starts with photographing real models to begin understanding the different poses she works with. She expresses the importance of shadow manipulation and outline. The next steps into her work then is to sketch the composition out and develop the sense of space since placement is integral in each piece. Constellation Mana is from a series of portraits called “Constellation”. Each of the works in this series is created by winding a single black thread around galvanized brads on a whiteboard. The dark areas are produced solely by densely wound and overlapping thread. This technique is seen in the enlarged photograph of Constellation Mana.


  • 2014 – Crystal Kirin Award, Beijing, China
  • 2014 – Special Merit Award, WAH Center, New York City
  • 2000 – Kirin Art Award Special Recognition Second Prize, Japan
  • 1995 – Betty Bowen Art Award Special Recognition, Washington, USA

via wikipedia:

The concepts of light and dark occupy largely Kumi Yamashita so she transposes her expressions through series of peculiar multimedia works. The very concept the artist inscribed in the artworks rotates around contemplative method which is aimed at dealing with the personal and most intimate dialogs. In this particular case, it seems as if the dichotomy of light and dark should be seen as a metaphor for the real and inner communication. Therefore, the work of Yamashita reflects the artists need to articulate differently the language as a common communication tool.

Inclined With Arts

Born in 1968 in a town of Takasaki, Japan. She was raised in an artistic family – her mother studied fashion, and her father was a sculptor and a professor of industrial design. In such environment, Yamashita easily developed her love for art and started drawing and making things at an early age. Yamashita lived in Japan until her teenage years, when she decided to relocate to the United States as a high school exchange student. The artist received her Bachelor in Fine Arts at the Cornish College of the Arts in Washington and graduated with an MFA from Glasgow School of Art in the UK in 1999.

The Peculiar Aesthetics of Light and Shadow

The unique site-specific light and shadow installations of Kumi Yamashita are usually made from ordinary, everyday objects – building blocks, thread, nails, paper cutouts, fabric, and wood, which she then manages to turn into sophisticated imagery. As a matter of fact, those works are composed out of strategically-placed light source along with a variety of perfectly placed objects to create incredible shadow silhouettes. The staggering effect is accentuated with casted shadows are cast upon the objects which are placed at certain distances from a single light source.

The Inspiration and Influences

The artist focuses mainly on the human figure. Kumi’s devoted attention to details make all the difference – she makes tiny cuts to paper and carefully drapes fabric, creating lively, fluid silhouettes. With a minimal amount of material, Yamashita manages to create a complex narrative with a range of emotions. Her works are not only related to the ancient tradition of Japan, yet they are often fulfilled with references from Western culture, like a portrait of Samuel Beckett – an Irish avant-garde novelist. So by combining various influences and inspirations, Yamashita is able to articulate her thoughts and express it the best through her works.

The Profound And Sensitive Works of Kumi Yamashita

Since the late ’90s, Yamashita’s work has been exhibited at numerous museum and galleries, spanning from Seattle Art Museum, over Hillside Gallery in Tokyo to the Kent Gallery in New York. She was also featured in a selection of important group shows and special projects including Figurative Association at the Arrowmont School of Arts, Tennessee and String Theory at the Scott White Contemporary Art Gallery in California.

During her career, Kumi has been honored and critically-acclaimed many times. She is a recipient of several awards and grants including Beijing’s 2014 Crystal Kirin Award and The Pollock and Krasner Foundation, just to mention the few. The astonishing, yet unpretentious works Kumi Yamashita realizes are not only beautified objects but more importantly some form of specific portals open to the observer for contemplation, calmness and inner peace. Kumi Yamashita lives and works in New York City.


  • 2015 Kumi Yamashita Art Front Gallery, Tokyo, Japan Solo
  • 2015 Extreme Fibers: Textile Icons and the New Edge Muskegon Museum of Art – Dennos Museum Center, Michigan, USA Group
  • 2015 Origami Heaven Wang Center, Stony Brook University, New York, USA Group
  • 2015 Less = More Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii, USA Group
  • 2015 Cosmos: Imagining the Universe Annmarie Sculpture Garden, Maryland, USA Group



Sculpture by Artist Kumi Yamashita
Sculpture by Artist Kumi Yamashita

View Kumi Yamashita Gallery

Oops! Somethin' went wrong.