‘The Serious Intensity of Being’ in Animal Art

“I became strongly aware of what life is all about and what it means to live. Each animal and human being, including myself, has its own life and will be gone someday. I felt that similarity, that we are all equal.”

Japanese Artist Chie Hitotsuyama

In Japan’s culture, its long tradition of exquisite perfection in every field of art and craft, there is always a spiritual dimension. The famous tea ceremony, bonsai, Zen gardens, shodo (calligraphy), netsuke (miniature sculptures), martial arts, to name but a few, all have certain qualities in common: “harmony, asymmetrical balance, artlessness, impermanence, and unity with the universe.” H.E. Davey

20160430-14-320x320To the many branches of Japan’s matchless artistry, should now be added one more, as unlikely as it is new – the recycling of old newspapers, transformed by artist Chie Hitotsuyama into incredible lifesize sculptures of animals.

You could say that paper is in Hitotsuyama’s blood. She was born into a family with a traditional paper-strip business in Fuji, their factory still using the old, wooden machinery. But there is more than just childhood influence in her choice of old newspapers for creating her work:

“Old thrown out newspapers attracted me as a medium, not only because they are easily obtained, but also, they are an accumulation of history and contain stories of human behavior. I see the correlation in how humans repeat their own histories as well as experience the cycles of life and death.”


“Since the first sculptural piece I made, a rhinoceros, I have continued to sculpt forms of animals and while doing so I have become acutely aware of the life force in all beings. I admire the animals I study. I am in awe of their strength and survival in unforgiving nature.”


“The strength of animals trying earnestly to live impresses me, their strength is much like the way pieces of newspapers rolled one by one, together, increase in strength as I work with them.”


“Animals have led me to my way of life and the theme of my life. By creating animal sculptures that convey their respective lives, I’m trying to find out how I should live.”


Hitotsuyama’s art is animated by her deeply reverent approach to life and the lives of all beings, our ‘unity with the universe’. I don’t know if she is vegan, but it would surprise me if she weren’t.

If you want to see her wonderful work  ‘in the flesh’ she has an exhibition through till January 7 at the Museum of Art and History’s satellite gallery, MOAH:CEDAR, in Lancaster, California.

Visit Hitotsuyama’s website

All image source: Ayako Hoshino



This Awesome Artist is Using Recycled Paper to Make Incredibly Lifelike Animal Sculptures – One Green Planet

These Wildlife Sculptures Are Yesterday’s News (Literally) – NRDC onEarth

Chie Hitotsuyama – Artist – Serious Paper & the Intensity of Being – Huffington Post

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A Picture of Compassion – Chantal Poulin Durocher – Artist for the Animals

The Art of Compassion for the Animals





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