Photo of Artwork, Waimea Ranch
Waimea Ranch

Artist Laurie Sumiye Borrows Hiroshige’s Concept and Creates Her Own Homage to Mauna Kea

Wayne Muromoto
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

There are certain works of art that reverberate in time and inspire other artists to create their own works of art that, although they may not be direct imitations, at least resonate with an echo of similar themes, emotions and imagery. The older work becomes a template and a starting point for a new work that goes on into different directions.

Artist Laurie Sumiye borrowed the concept of using an iconic natural landmark to join together a set of images by the renowned Japanese woodblock artist Utagawa Hiroshige and his “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.” That became the starting point in creating her own “Thirty-Six Views of Mauna Kea.”

Golden Pu‘u 1 (Artwork courtesy Laurie Sumiye)
Golden Pu‘u 1 (Artwork courtesy Laurie Sumiye)

There is much that Sumiye borrows from Hiroshige, and much that is quite different. Instead of the iconic Mount Fuji, which pops up in 36 woodblock prints that make up Hiroshige’s set (and a similar set of prints by Hokusai), Sumiye uses different views of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai‘i as her main compositional point, creating art that looks at the mountain from different points of view, locations and media.

Although both are art prints, the technology involved in their production is very different. Japanese woodblock artists worked with mulberry paper and black ink. They would sketch out their ideas and compositions and then send them to a publisher, who would have artisans cut the drawings into relief woodblocks from which the printed editions would be printed on paper.

Sumiye, on the other hand, usually starts with a photograph and scans it into a computer software program called Adobe Flash, which is normally used to create animations for the Internet and computer games. Flash converts the photograph to more graphic, flatter shapes of colors. She then moves the image into the Adobe Illustrator program, which she uses to alter the colors and shapes to make the images more unique. Sumiye’s current exhibit at BoxJelly in Kaka‘ako, where she is this year’s artist-in-residence, also includes several multimedia pieces made of wood, paper and cast forms to depict the different cinder cones that dot the slopes of Mauna Kea.

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