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Chiho Harazaki Carves Intricate Designs and Immersive Installations from Tape

Chiho Harazaki Carves Intricate Designs and Immersive Installations from Tape

Chiho Harazaki creates intricate patterns and designs from ordinary adhesive tape. She borrows techniques of traditional woodcutting, and weaves elements of Pop Art with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, into her meticulous mixed-media work. Drawing from her experience of living in both the East and the West, Harazaki uses household materials to create works of ‘imperfect beauty,’ and hopes to inspire others to discover the “beauty and light” in daily life.

Not Real Art Artist Of The Day Series

As a child, Harazaki was inspired by her sculptor uncle in his studio in the mountains of Japan. Her first exhibition experience occurred after she moved to the United States. Using tape in an early installation while she was studying fine art at a local community college, led to further explorations in the medium, followed by a series of exhibitions and commissions. In her first solo show in Venice, California, Harazaki created an interactive art space where “people from diverse cultures could begin new friendships in a joyful and playful atmosphere” and immerse themselves in large-scale art pieces.

Harazaki’s work ranges from colorful images of insects and birds to somber figurative tableaux inspired by historical events. She is a firm believer in the power of art to educate and transform, and shares elements of Japanese culture with American art audiences while touching upon darker themes, such as the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. In 2019, Harazaki organized an art and music event promoting the abolition of nuclear weapons at a jazz club in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Sharing the history of the atomic bombings and of the internment of US citizens of Japanese descent reminds of the horrors of war in a way meant to inspire people of all races, nationalities, and backgrounds to work together for peace and as allies against the dangers of accepting any narrative of otherness.

Harazaki is an active figure in the L.A. art scene. She created an installation commemorating the death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and designed artwork for the Angel City Jazz Festival. Her creative energy, and commitment to social and political causes, add resonance and depth to her wabi-sabi designs. Harazaki’s multicultural approach, and her ability to conjure a sophisticated Japanese aesthetic from everyday materials, shows how vital it is for artists to immerse themselves in the messiness of ordinary life.

Table of Contents

Chiho Harazaki — Artist Statement

Chiho Harazaki. Headshot.
Chiho Harazaki

Instead of ink or paint, I draw with tape. I cut adhesive tape into shapes using knives and scissors, assembling the tiny pieces of tape to compose a whole picture. Precision and imprecision work together in harmony. A roughly cut shape may provide a perfect accent, and even seemingly worthless leftover scraps can become ideally suited components of an artwork. In tape art, I find the traditional Japanese aesthetic concept of wabi-sabi, beauty in imperfection. Leonard Koren says in his book, WabiSabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, “Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.”

Tape is a common material taken for granted in daily life, but this unconventional art medium has great artistic potential. Tape can be applied to various surfaces and removed easily without damage. Adhesive tape comes in a variety of types: transparent tape, electrical tape, duct tape, gaffer tape, masking tape, fluorescent tape, washi tape, and more. Each kind of tape has different characteristics and gives its unique texture to my work. The hand-cut shapes and lines often evoke the feeling of modern graphic illustration, while at other times may be reminiscent of traditional arts like woodcut and paper cutting.

Tape allows me to work in both small and large scale on various kinds of surfaces. The large-scale art space has great potential to connect people and promote a more loving society. Large artwork becomes a physical environment for the viewer, “consuming” them. Individuals may become immersed and feel overwhelmed by the massiveness of the artwork. My intentions when creating a large piece are to provide an unusual experience, facilitate dialogue, and explore the potential of this unconventional material.

My work is shaped by my life, culture, and heritage, and synthesizes elements of Eastern and Western culture. Growing up in Japan and later moving to the U.S., I have continually searched for the meaning of my life and for a place where I can be myself. My attempts at assimilation into a new culture actually increased feelings of isolation. I have wandered, seeking to find a sense of belonging in two countries whose societal values are so different. It took years for me to discover my unique and distinctive personality and identity, which are not in either one of the cultures but intercrossed. Perceiving life and the world from my evolving perspective as a first-generation immigrant, my artwork reflects struggles in life and emotional complexities, incorporating various historical and narrative elements to convey my burdens, desires, hopes, and beliefs.

Converting an idea into a visual form can be time-consuming and arduous. My creative process involves perceiving, excavating, and discovering myself through discussions within myself. At the same time, focusing on art helps me to abide in the present moment, reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and bringing a sense of fulfillment and well-being. Art is a bridge between an artist’s mind and a viewer’s mind. As an artist, I strive to stimulate the viewer to elevate their consciousness. I create art with the intention of providing an introduction to approaching and viewing the universe in a different way, connecting people and inspiring them to discover more beauty and light in daily life.

Chiho Harazaki – Grant Submission Work

Chiho Harazaki.  Tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo
A Tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo
Electrical tape on window glass
102 x 132 inches
Chiho Harazaki. Angel City Bird
Angel City Bird
Electrical tape on illustration board
26 x 17 inches

Commissioned work for Angel City Jazz Festival 2020

Chiho Harazaki. Adaptation
Adaptation
Electrical tape on paper
72 x 42 inches

Depiction of a human being finding their inner strength to move forward despite depression, trauma, or other difficult life experiences or circumstances. This artwork was selected for the OPEN CALL RUNNERS-UP at the WE RISE 2019 exhibition by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, as well as for the group exhibition “The Art & Democracy VI” by the Visual Artists Guild, and for the group exhibition “Flesh” at SoLA gallery in 2019.

Chiho Harazaki. Yosegi Beetle
Yosegi Beetle
Washi tape and electrical tape on illustration board
16 x 14 inches

An art piece from my bug series. Insects are a symbol of transition, not only because they transform but also they remind me of how we change. Many people who were fascinated or even delighted by insects as children grow to harbor apprehension toward insects as adults. My intentions for this series are to remind viewers of a childlike non-judgemental feeling, call to mind memories that may serve to warm their hearts, and inspire conversations between people from different age groups and backgrounds.

Chiho Harazaki. Black Rain.
Black Rain
Electrical tape on paper
84 x 84 inches

Black Rain is the third piece of a series depicting the morning of the Hiroshima bombing, using electrical tape on paper. Although no large-scale nuclear weapon has been used in war since then, today there are countless people all over the world who are suffering from war. I am looking for an anti-war organization, school, or public space to donate this piece to.

Chiho Harazaki – Artist Bio

Chiho Harazaki was born and raised in the countryside of Japan. She spent summers with her sculptor uncle at his remote mountain studio. His lifestyle and approach to art had a significant impact on her, and art has been a daily part of her life since early childhood. After moving to the United States, Harazaki began studying art in a community college and pursuing an art degree. After her first art piece made with finely-cut black electrical tape was selected for her college’s student exhibition, she became fascinated with using adhesive tape as her primary medium. Harazaki received her first public recognition in the United States in 2016 when she was awarded an honorable mention at the Play exhibition at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Harazaki continues exhibiting at galleries individually and collectively, and creating work commissioned by individuals, companies, and organizations.

Her first solo show, “The Cure for Hate is Love,” took place in Venice, California in 2018. The three-day event was sponsored by SOVO//Magazine. Harazaki’s intention was to create a space where people from diverse cultures could begin new friendships with each other in a joyful and playful atmosphere. Using adhesive tape, she created an interactive art space where attendees could merge themselves into her large-scale art pieces.

Harazaki’s artwork was selected for the public outdoor art exhibition “Windows of Little Tokyo,” organized by the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) and Sustainable Little Tokyo two years in a row. Both of her artworks for Windows of Little Tokyo 2018 and 2019 are still on display. In August 2019, Harazaki organized “Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki” at the Blue Whale jazz club in Little Tokyo. More than 100 attendees joined this art and music event promoting the abolition of nuclear weapons. This event also marked the opening of Harazaki’s solo art exhibit at the Blue Whale.

In 2020, Harazaki designed the artwork for the Angel City Jazz Festival, presented by Angel City Arts. A wide variety of merchandise using her design has successfully benefitted the non-profit organization, committed to cultivating jazz culture in Los Angeles. During the pandemic, one of her art pieces from her Expression project was featured as the cover art for "HOW TO SURVIVE A QUARANTINE" Published by Liberated Arts Collective to support The Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) that challenges race, gender, and class inequality throughout the juvenile and criminal injustice systems. Harazaki’s works are constructed using ordinary adhesive tape, cut with a precision knife or with scissors. Her pieces are at times evocative of traditional arts such as woodcut and paper cut, while other pieces fuse Western pop art with Japanese cultural elements. Her exploration of tape art includes work in small and large scale, in two and three dimensions, and on various kinds of surfaces, often embellishing objects with intricate patterns. Informed by her experiences living in both Japan and America, Harazaki’s subject matter includes a variety of cultural, historical, and narrative elements as well as social comments.

Chiho Harazaki on the Web And Social Media

Here is where to find out more about Chihoko on the web and social media:

About the Artist of the Day Series

All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis

Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis is a writer, photographer, and former New York Gallery Director based in Washington, D.C. She has an M.F.A. in Fine Art and an undergraduate degree in Russian Literature. She speaks five foreign languages and is currently in a Masters of Non-Fiction Writing Program at John Hopkins University.

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