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Wk14 – Artist Conversation –

Artist: Kiyomi Fukui
Exhibition: The Green Thumb Project
Media: Planting, Paper Mache

Kiyomi Fukui is a Japanese-American artist who resides in Long Beach, CA. Fukui received an MFA in Printmaking from California State University Long Beach and a BFA in Graphic Design from La Sierra University. Fukui’s favorite Japanese food is hot pot. While in this quarantine she has enjoyed painting her nails. Kiyomi practices in performance and fiber arts, such as tatting and crocheting. Kiyomi is married to her husband who is also an artist.

Fukui’s art project is called The Green Thumb Project and is a combination of plants and paper mache moldings. The molding consists of scrap paper casted into a thumb mold. All of her work is biodegradable. The plants came in a variety of different sizes and shapes. There was some that were small and smooth and others that were tall and pointy. They were put into different pots. As the plant grew the paper mache thumb began to decompose. It looked as if it was a zombie finger. She planted seeds into these casts until they sprouted out of the cast and then transferred into a larger pot to add into a large garden. She presents the plants in six raised-bed planters, two tables that display plants in various stages of growth, accompanied by a faint audio recording of her voice describing the growth of the sprouts, one table that functioned as a paper-casting station, and a collaged printed work.

Fukui’s Green Thumb project started in November 2014 right before her mother passed away. Fukui took a a mold of her mothers thumb. Although she could not speak she could tell that her mother was entertained by her pressing of some gooey silicone material against her thumb. After her mother passed away she kept the mold of her thumb and took time to process her emotions. The thumb has a strong resonance to her that is lodged in her consciousness. Fukui gave the molding of her mothers thumb a meaning by created this project to create a memento of her loss. Since the thumbs are paper mache they decompose and eventually look brown and rotten. Fukui said that she enjoyed the comedic relief of the finger looking like a zombie since it was such a heavy topic. In the process of caring for the thumbs, the efforts and numerous failures took on another layer of meaning. For Fukui is was healing from her mothers loss and coping with it by combining everyday activities such as gardening.

Fukui did an amazing job conveying her message, and had beautiful way of explaining her artwork. The connection she made about the plants to her life were very creative and interesting. Her art work and story help my remember how precious life is and not to take anything for granted. It was fascinating getting to hear about her story and her perspective on how she healed and coped with her mothers lose. It is inspiring to know that she is following her dreams despite all the trials and tribulations she has had in life.


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