Mana Morimoto's hand-stitched photographs

The Japanese wild artist and weaver simply loves “making thread beams come out of people’s eyes!”
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Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series
Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series

It may look as if supernatural beams are shooting from Mana Morimoto’s photographs but this Japanese artist uses quite conventional coloured cotton to create her images. Taking photographs she finds via Google image searches, or on a friend’s Facebook profile, she adds her own adaptations of them using a distinctly low-tech needle and thread. Morimoto, who was born in Sapporo and went to college in Oregon, returned to Japan two years ago, settling in Tokyo, where she is currently learning to weave on a loom.

 

Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series
Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series

“I’ve always been fond of geometric shapes as long as I can remember,” Morimoto tells ArtChipel. “I felt like everything in the world was woven. When I was back in Japan, I found a box full of embroidery threads while cleaning my room, and the idea came to me.”

Morimoto says she finds her photographs, prints them out and then sets to work punching holes, before adding her embroidering threads. She then scans them back onto a digital format and uploads them to her frequently updated Tumblr page.

 

Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series
Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series

“I always have a hard time describing my work; I simply love making thread beams come out of people’s eyes!” Morimoto explains. “I like the idea of using both digital and analog tools in my work; it can be a vintage photo, an image that I found on Google or a profile picture that I stole from my friend’s Facebook. I used to embroider on colour images at first, but realised that the threads go better on a black and white image. The color compositions become more three dimensional and vivid.”

 

Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series
Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series

Of course, the reinterpretation of found images has been regarded as a legitimate fine-art form for some time; John Stezaker won the Deutsche Börse Prize in 2012 for his spliced up cinema star pictures, while fellow artists like Amy Friends and Diane Meyer also adapt their shots in practices similar to Morimoto's.

However, influences, precursors and fellow practitioners aside, Morimoto says she values the work's therapeautic quality above all else. “I started working with threads, because I was unhappy with my life and felt the urge to make something with my hands. My art is the therapy I feel like having finally found something that I’m good at and that I want to carry on. It doesn’t mean that I’m always happy with the result, but the stitching and weaving process always makes me feel better. And if someone sees my work and finds something they can connect with, that’s amazing!”

Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series
Mana Morimoto embroidered photographs series

For further connections go to Morimoto's Tumblr. For a longer meditation on the therapeutic uses of art, consider our new book Art as Therapy. And if the above images have inspired you in some way you really should check out our book Wild Art. Finally, to learn more about how photographs have been artfully purposed over the past few decades, check out our Photobook series, edited by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. Buy them from the people who made them, here.


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