all images courtesy Noriko Sugiyama

Noriko Sugiyama is a self-taught artist who works with discarded kimono and obi, which she masterfully upcylces to create landscapes brimming with energy and hope. But her path to artistry has been anything but conventional. Now at the age of 76, Sugiyama only began her creative journey 5 years ago after a chance encounter with marker pens she found discarded on the street.

an artwork inspired by the the lone “miracle pine tree” in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, which survived the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster

At around age 60, with her 3 children all grown up and out of her hands, Sugiyama decided to relocate from Saitama up north to Iwate prefecture where she had relatives, and was closer to her birthplace of Aomori. She obtained her chiropractors license and opened a small practice where she served the local community for over 10 years.

One day, Sugiyama found a pack of discarded colored markers near a dumpster. Noticing that they were still in good shape, she decided to take them home and begin doodling. Soon, images of trees and rivers all inspired by the nature of Aomori began pouring out of her and onto the pages of a sketchbook. After a year or so of sketching with the markers, Sugiyama remembered her mother’s colorful kimonos that had been stored away. There was no use for them in storage so the artist, whose creative juices were now flowing, decided to begin incorporating them into her work, which eventually led to a style she has coined as “Kimono Reborn Art.”

Late last year, Sugiyama held a workshop at a cafe in Morioka to teach her style of art to locals. She also held an exhibition at a local gallery. You can keep up with her activities on Instagram.