Born in 1970 in Tokyo, Japan, Ai Kijima is best known for works that are based on three simple elements: cloth, needle and thread. Describing her works as chaotic collages, Kijima creates amalgamations of found material painstakingly stitched into evocative cross-cultural patchworks.
Kijima’s love of textiles began at the young age while helping her grandmother create handmade sewn pieces. While studying at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she discovered the art of quilting fusing it with traditions learned in Japan to create a technique distinctly her own.
Her works juxtapose iconic imagery derived from current and recently discarded popular culture with fabrics from his personal collection of vintage kimonos she has carefully compiled over the years from thrift stores and flea markets. Through the practice of quilted collage, she transforms the separate pieces into the context of contemporary pop art. While appropriates the context of these materials, she expands their meaning with nostalgia and humor. Characterized by lush intricacies, these colorful, chaotic fabric collages show that textile artworks can have the force and inventiveness of the most lively paintings.
Featured image: Ai Kijima – NEW LOVE PLAN #15, 2013 (detail). Quilted materials. 20 1/2 × 27 in. 52 × 68.5 cm. Photo courtesy Galerie Ernst Hilger