Kumi Hirose was born in Tokyo, but lived in the countryside of Tokushima from grade school until high school after her father was relocated there for work. She loves manga, and has been tracing them ever since she was a child. Following a strong desire to move to Tokyo, she attended Joshibi University of Art and Design, where she was first exposed to oil painting. Later she attended graduate school for art as well, firmly committed to the idea of becoming an artist. After graduating, she decided she didn’t want to settle down in Japan, fearing its worldview was too narrow, and set off for America where she could expose herself to new ideas and fresh perspectives. She wound up in New York City, where she set about establishing herself as an artist and devoted herself to her craft. To Kumi, making art is not only an outlet and a way to unleash your innermost emotions, but also a space to occupy, a shelter for selfexpression. Her art is like her diary, containing the totality of her experience. The special people in her life are her major source of inspiration. Her beloved friends and family, the people who show her love out in the world, the teachers who meant the most to her, and even the people she hates all have a place inside her heart. As we go about our day to day and meet all kinds of people, we all partake in a uniqe blend of stresses, curiosities, and sympathies, and are shocked, pleased, angered, or inspired by a different set of experiences, leading to our own cache of memories. For Kumi Hirose, painting is one way to step back from this world of memory, and occupy a place of comfort amid our stressful lives. She constructs the worlds inside her artwork from a chaotic mixture of everyday experience and the various thoughts that occupy her mind. Frustration, anger, sadness, and joy are mixed together and distorted, then rewrought into something with a pulse. The result is a mysterious collision of the normal world and the dreamscapes that haunt our waking life. Because of her abstract style, it’s rare for her to paint a subject exactly as you would find it in the world. Instead she’d rather offer her audience the chance to complete the painting based on their own experience with an unbridled imagination, making appreciation a participatory and central aspect of the creation of the art. Art is vital to her existence—as long as she’s alive, she’ll be creating!