These Wildlife Sculptures Are Yesterday’s News (Literally)

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Artist Chie Hitotsuyama crafts realistic animals out of recycled newspaper.

Credit: Ayako Hoshino

For Chie Hitotsuyama, print is not dead. The Japanese artist uses discarded dailies to make life-size, and incredibly lifelike, animal sculptures.

The process is a bit like papier-mâché 2.0. First, Hitotsuyama selects individual pieces of newspaper based on the color of the ink on the page. Then, one by one, she wets each sheet, rolls it by hand, and glues the material in place. For her largest subjects—just think for a moment about the girth of a 2,000-pound walrus—the process can take up to three months.

Credit: Ayako Hoshino

The technique has proved remarkably versatile; Hitotsuyama’s ink-and-paper menagerie contains iguanas, sea turtles, gorillas, dugongs, and more. For each specimen, the painstakingly positioned newspaper creates characteristic contours of scales, shells, fur, and skin. Her pieces seem poised to wander off into their natural habitats at any moment.

Having grown up in a family that ran a paper mill, Hitotsuyama may have gravitated naturally toward the medium. But her choice is also a symbolic one: “A piece of newspaper is fragile and the existence of animals is vulnerable, but I feel the strength in them,” she says.

Hitotsuyama’s work is on exhibition through January 7 at the Museum of Art and History’s satellite gallery, MOAH:CEDAR, in Lancaster, California. While serving as MOAH’s artist-in-residence, Hitotsuyama will also create a new series focusing on the native wildlife of Southern California. The Los Angeles Times has donated 1,000-plus pounds of newspaper for the project. Start the presses (and the rolling)!

Credit: Ayako Hoshino
Credit: Ayako Hoshino
Credit: Ayako Hoshino
Credit: Ayako Hoshino

This article was originally published on onEarth, which is no longer in publication. onEarth was founded in 1979 as the Amicus Journal, an independent magazine of thought and opinion on the environment. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. This article is available for online republication by news media outlets or nonprofits under these conditions: The writer(s) must be credited with a byline; you must note prominently that the article was originally published by NRDC.org and link to the original; the article cannot be edited (beyond simple things such grammar); you can’t resell the article in any form or grant republishing rights to other outlets; you can’t republish our material wholesale or automatically—you need to select articles individually; you can’t republish the photos or graphics on our site without specific permission; you should drop us a note to let us know when you’ve used one of our articles.

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