kumi Yamashita was born in japan, just outside of Tokyo and lived there until she came to the states as a high school exchange student.
kumi yamashita : “when beginning a new work, I take a lot of time working on sketches to get the composition and scale. this is especially true for my light & shadow sculptures that are site specific. it is very important that the artwork inhabits the space in a balanced and harmonious way. in a shadow, there is very little information for the viewer – it is basically a void. getting it to look and feel natural, and also impart a sense of energy or emotion, can be the biggest challenge. for instance, a hand resting on a knee might look natural when you see a person doing it, but if you reduce it to just shadow / outline, it might look like a mushroom growing on their leg. so to get human gestures to look recognisable and natural in shadow, I start by photographing posed models and then use those photos as reference for my sketches. once I have the composition worked out, the next step is choosing the right light. this is important as different bulbs have different qualities. some lights will cause double shadows to appear, which of course ruins the effect, while others may produce very crisp shadows or blurry ones. so I end up doing a lot of testing to find the correct fixture for each sculpture and application. once I have figured out the shadow’s shape and the light to be used, I can begin crafting the actual sculpture, which might entail carving a single piece of wood or fabricating many different objects to create the effect. in short; I’m constantly experimenting, trying different ways of creating pieces and figuring out what will work the best”.
Here is a recent interview with her done by the nice folks over at designboom: