Moth 1

Paper Cutting An Art Form by Hiromi Moneyhun

Tiny cuts–-slivers taken out, piece by piece, yet the whole skeleton remains intact; the ancient Chinese practice of paper cutting is a unique art form, one that artist Hiromi Moneyhun has mastered. It elicits a gentle, quiet pause as we look at the beauty of each intricate piece.

Hiromi MoneyhunHailing from Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "Kyoto, Japan", Moneyhun zeroes in on her three-dimensional pieces with a laser-like focus. Perhaps not being trained by a master of this particular art has its advantage; indeed, it must. The result of each piece cut diligently by Moneyhun is extraordinary, giving life to organic forms, such as a bonsai or volumes of beautiful, silky black Japanese hair composed perfectly around a woman’s head to draw the eye above the kimono onto the coils intertwined and dovetailed into one another.

The Edo Period of Japanese woodblocks (known as moku hanga) gave her a foundation from which her art springs forth, into moths, self-portraits, even a caterpillar–all giving tiny, well-thought-out windows for the eye to go in and out of, to define the walls of the finished piece.

“It is a multi-step process that begins with a freehand drawing, then making a large machine copy, and finally on to the cutting process,” says Moneyhun. “I’ve completed about 50 pieces to date, and each piece takes many hours to complete. It depends on the size of the piece. The bigger the piece, the longer it takes. Also, over time my pieces have become more elaborate, meaning that the slivers I remove have become smaller and more numerous, which translates into a lot more cutting time.”

Moneyhun’s way of deciding on what her next subject will be is personal. “I just follow my heart. I get interested in a subject or an idea, and I begin poking around, looking at images and reading up a little on the subject.” She researches her subjects thoroughly, too. “I like to look at images. I either look online or I check books out of the library,” says Moneyhun.

As part of the entourage of Jacksonville artists under the helm of Steve Williams, president of Harbinger Sign, Moneyhun joined the group whose work was showcased during Art Basel 2013. Her particular pieces on display featured cuts made as precise as a diamond cutter. These pieces reflected a unique Japanese tradition, the oiran of ukiyo, or what is referred to as an evanescent world of “fleeting beauty” or a world of “impermanence,” reminiscent of cyclical episodes of nature, such as the popping of the cherry blossom in the spring, only for it to fall onto the ground in a few days, the denouement of a beautiful thing, a beautiful experience. It is excitement and expectation of beauty coming into full glory or full blossom – this is what she captures, the beauty “in that fleeting moment.”

Moneyhun has been featured in many art shows these past few years, some of which caught the eye of historian Wayne Wood. “Hiromi’s art is far more than two-dimensional or even three-dimensional. It has a fourth dimension of voids and shadows which mesmerize and delight the viewer,” says Wood. “Her technical virtuosity is astounding! I love to watch people see her art for the first time on my wall. They glance and look away, and then look again in disbelief. They move closer and then closer to see how this impossible creation could be possible. Once they realize what they are seeing, they break out into a big smile. Every time! Hiromi creates visual miracles.”

Her work brings the eye into each corner of each paper cut. Sometimes it works the other way around, too. During this year’s Cultural Council’s big party at the Old Marble Bank, Moneyhun’s designs were seen on the faces of the wait staff, a surprise of entertainment as the men and women walked around with a flicker of artwork by the corner of their eyes. It was a wonderful surprise and added a focus on the variety of professional artists we have in Jacksonville who impact the cultural life of the city.

Each design is distinctive and deliberate, something not often seen in a young artist with no formal art training. Instead, Moneyhun follows the light before her to carve out a niche that is immediately recognized as being her own. Her talent precedes her.

Take the time and visit Florida Mining Gallery, at 5300 Shad Road (32257), where her current exhibit, Under the Rose, is on display through the end of October. Whet your art patron appetite by going to to view the exhibit virtually, but then view it up close, and personally. To see its three dimensions explode out off the back into the air, then form into extremely beautiful work is a wondrous experience, one you will not want to miss.

And, remember her name; she’s going places. In fact she was asked to participate in State of the Art Exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. It opened in mid-September and will continue through January 19th. Here her work will be seen by national and international art patrons. Kedgar Volta, another very talented Jacksonville artist, was also vetted into this nationally recognized show, confirming Jacksonville is developing a reputation for fine artists. Both Moneyhun and Volta are Florida Mining Gallery artists. FMG has a special eye for artists who are going to change our world.

“I find it very important to support artists like Hiromi who are working in such an obsessive way, being recognized nationally and being so influenced by our region,” says Steve Williams, president of Florida Mining Gallery and CEO of Harbinger Sign. “I love the fact that she is entrenched into our culture and being from such a Japanese upbringing I will be anxious to see what this artist does with her career. Already poised to be one of the top artists in the U.S., we are pleased and proud to offer her work for sale at Florida Mining,” says Williams.

Moneyhun feels the same way: “I am very happy to be part of the Florida Mining Gallery. I cannot say enough good things about Steve Williams, the owner of the gallery and president of Harbinger Sign Company, which houses the gallery. As far as I’m concerned, Steve – along with Ben Thompson of MOCA – has one of the most progressive art minds in Jacksonville. And I am honored and thrilled to be chosen by Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, to be included in their State of the Art show. Kedgar and I were there together, and I think we were both walking on air for those couple of days. I still haven’t come down. Kedgar will have to speak for himself!”

Don’t miss the Vimeo video, which was created by FSCJ media, on Florida Mining’s website to see more about Hiromi Moneyhun’s work. Jacksonville is lucky to have her here–she adds another talented layer to the Jacksonville art scene.

About Joanelle Mulrain