Kumi was awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Grant in 2019/20 and recently achieved her Signature status with the Federation of Canadian Artists, but her focus for most of her working life was as a forester in British Columbia. As an ecologist and professional forester, she researched and managed trees on private and provincial/federal forests for 35 years. It is only after retiring when she became interested in visual arts and earned her BFA at UBC in 2015. Since then, her art practice has evolved within formal and conceptual boundaries between abstract modernist, minimalist, and representative art. The consistency across her work, is her emotional response to the function, form and patterns occurring in, on, and among trees. In her drawings, her emphasis is mostly on the micro level - on bark and wood – and its lines, colours and patterns completed in mostly representational style in colour pencil and ink. In the paintings, she explores more fully the element of line, transforming forest patterns and form into hard-edge geometric works. Using collaged wood veneer and acrylic she explores more fully the properties of abstraction, where elements of line and colour are continuously negotiated and where the work still draws inspiration from the tree.
My methodology is influenced by my long experience with trees. In the bark drawings, I start with close observation afforded by digital colour and size enhancements of hundreds of images I shoot before choosing one, or a compilation of images, to make an interesting subject. The work is meticulous, closely cropped, without context, inviting viewers to draw near for a closer look and allowing a more intimate portrait to emerge. Colour, pattern, and luminosity are enhanced to let the bark's complexity shine through. Drawings are on paper mostly using ink and colour pencils, or sometimes using metallic inks to highlight bark structures. The paintings deal more with the geometry of the forested landscape, utilizing wood veneer and acrylic on cradled wood panel to represent the forest itself and the pattern of annual growth. In both drawings and paintings, I search for that fluidity of line and sensitivity of colour that describes shapes and forms of the bark and wood, giving voice to the tree's story. I celebrate what the eye often overlooks.