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Cyoko Tamai was born in Kochi Prefecture. She graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts with a BFA in Music and an MFA in Japanese Painting. Her work combines unique techniques, a musical sensibility, and traditional Japanese materials, resulting in ethereal and compelling images. Using a fine-pointed steel pen, Cyoko deconstructs and rebuilds: she tears, scratches, and rips incredibly strong Japanese washi paper made by National Living Treasure Sajio Hamada and his wife Setsuko. Breaks and incisions leap beyond the paper’s surface, while choice individual fibers defy gravity, coaxed from the paper to form an ephemeral gauze. “The major theme of my work is to capture life that is unexplained and invisible, working under the hypothesis that each space has a certain life to it. Gravity is a basic element in the world, yet it still remains mysterious. I believe that this mystery in the everyday hints that there is life in things unseen, even if it is invisible yet.”
Tamai’s work has been featured in over a dozen solo and group exhibitions in Japan. She was the 2014 Japan Society Artist-in-Residence and featured in multiple one-woman shows at Ronin Gallery. She is the recipient of several grants from the Sato International Cultural Foundation and the recipient of the Ataka Award. Her work can be found in the permanent collection of the Muscarelle Museum of Art and the Morikami Museum.