When you arrive at Hiromi Moneyhun’s house, the first thing you notice is a unique harmony of traditional Japanese ambiance blended with a beach life vibe; a perfect synthesis of her and her husband, Roy’s aesthetics. As you cross the threshold into her home, you shed your shoes at the door. Like her art, Japanese tradition is a part of her everyday life.
Moneyhun met Roy in Japan, and moved to Jacksonville Beach 10 years ago. Five years later, she found herself serving as a caregiver to her mother-in-law, who had suffered from a stroke. The days were long and quiet, and Moneyhun began to fill her time exploring kirie, the traditional Japanese art of paper cutting.
“Paper-cut kept my hands busy, and kept me awake while [her mother-in-law] rested,” she says.
Raised in Japan, Moneyhun was drawn to kirie as a child, but had not experimented with the practice as an artist. What began as a meditative way to pass the time while caring for her mother-in-law has become a career.
Her breakout moment as an artist was at the 2013 One Spark festival, where she was a creator.
She showcased her paper cuttings, and her work was well received. Denise Reagan, then editor of Folio Magazine, took notice of her work, and from that point on her work as a kirie artist took off.
Today, Moneyhun is represented by the Jacksonville Beach-based Florida Mining Gallery, and her work is also currently on exhibit at The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. She was recently one of 100 outsider artists selected out of 10,000 artists in North America to participate in the State of the Art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas.
Because kirie is a relatively unfamiliar form of artistry for most Western viewers, it takes a moment to realize the true complexity of Moneyhun’s pieces. At first glance, they seem like fantastic drawings, but upon closer look, the works’ three-dimensionality hits like an epiphany.
Moneyhun’s designs are so precise and intricate that it’s hard to believe she doesn’t use some sort of laser cutter. She first draws out the design she wishes to cut. Then using an X-ACTO knife, she cuts the design out of black drawing paper. Moneyhun’s paper cuttings range in size anywhere from 6 inches to 11 feet. Each piece takes just under a month for her to complete.
Moneyhun’s work cycles through phases and trends. Her most consistent theme is focused on her daughter’s figure and face, while other works are based on complex insect designs, and other concepts pulled from her own imagination.
But Moneyhun says what inspires her work is most often people. She says, “Sometimes I just watch people walk around and move and think, ‘Oh that could be a paper-cut.’ Like my daughter, I just watch her.”