Jacob Hashimoto designs works of art on a grand scale, but the most minute details can bring his projects screeching to a halt.
Hashimoto, who spoke at CU on Tuesday as part of the visiting artists series, creates large, modular installations that are composed of kites hung from the ceiling. The kites are generally made of bamboo-stiffened rice paper and suspended with nylon string.
Every kite is individually tied on-site, which creates works that have been compared to schools of fish, herds of elk and flocks of birds, as well as blocks that could be found while playing Tetris or Minecraft.
From Greeley, Hashimoto grew up in Walla Walla, Wa., where his father is a college professor. He attended Carleton College but transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Hashimoto started as a painting student in Chicago, but made his first piece using his current method, called “Perennial,” when he was a senior. Perennial was composed of 365 diamond-shaped kites, and made a really long curtain.
At the time, Hashimoto said he didn’t really know how he was going to enter the art world, a feeling that to him, was terrifying.
“You feel almost like you’re up against all of art history,” Hashimoto said.
After graduating, Hashimoto spent a year making a 1,000 kite piece which he assembled in the back room of a gallery he was working in. He built the whole piece in his apartment, and had to transport seven garbage bags from his apartment to the gallery via train because he didn’t have a car.
The gallery owner liked the piece and told Richard Francis, at the time curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Francis liked it too, and wanted to hang a much larger version in the atrium of his museum.
Hashimoto lived with his parents in Walla Walla for eight months while building the expanded piece, which was finally installed in 1998.
Since then, Hashimoto’s fame has grown. He worked on some of the decorations in the lobby of the hotel owned by Al Pacino’s character in the movie Ocean’s Thirteen, and did a project that was hung from the ceiling of the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s, “Oasis of the Seas.”
Now based in New York, Hashimoto has seven full-time assistants, a far cry from carrying his piece in garbage bags on a train in Chicago.
Hashimoto’s works require lots of planning. At first, the design is rigid and Hashimoto makes a big drawing for his assistants to work on. He usually changes that design last minute, making plenty of corrections in a pieces’ “11th hour.”
He said it’s important to push the envelope until you make stupid decisions and mistakes.
“If you’re doing the same thing over and over again and being safe, you need to take good, long, hard look at yourself and decide of this is what you really want to do,” Hashimoto said.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Sam Klomhaus at Samuel.Klomhaus@Colorado.edu.