Mokomoko (もこもこ) is a haptic onomatopoeia – one of my favorites, in fact – that conjures up the soft, huggable qualities of billowing clouds or fluffy sheep. Don’t confuse it with mokumoku, which has similar connotations but refers specifically to movement, while the latter is grounded in the realm of motionless. It’s an important distinction to make when referring to New York-based Japanese artist Natsuko Hattori, who creates large, stationary sculptures from soft, huggable and colorful balls of fabric.
“Fabric is my medium of choice because people everywhere can relate more easily to this material, which conveys warmth, natural softness and the intimate human touch,” says Hattori.
And it’s the act of wrapping that is central to her sculptures. “The gesture of wrapping each round ball, is an act of transformation that converts pain, sadness and despair into positive energy, such as love or a prayer for comfort.”
In a recent installation for Printed Matter, Hattori filled the storefront window with her balls of fabric in a piece titled “Spring (Haru).”
But for her recent work, Hattori has, in the truest sense, embraced the comforting qualities of her own art, working herself into her sculptures. In two pieces titled “Birth” and “Offering of flowers,” Hattori appears immersed in sensual fabric, surrounded by her balls of fabric. “My work conveys a sense of happiness,” explains Hattori, “and it celebrates the human spirit.”