Rie Hachiyanagi is an art professor and chair of the art studio at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts who is accused of attempted murder after a bizarre attack on a co-worker.
The co-worker has not been identified. However, authorities accuse Hachiyanagi – whose specializations are in installation, performance, and papermaking art forms – of the brutal attack on a fellow faculty member because she was in love with the woman and didn’t feel the emotions were returned. Hachiyanagi is 48. The incident occurred between December 23 and December 24, 2019.
Hachiyanagi’s art – from representations of tears to blank pieces of paper – has been exhibited throughout the country. She is described as blending philosophy and social situations into her artwork.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hachiyanagi Is Accused of Telling the Victim She Had ‘Loved Her for Many Years’
According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hachiyanagi was accused of brutally assaulting “another faculty member with a rock, a fire poker and garden shears.”
She was charged with armed assault with attempt to murder a person over the age of 60, three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, mayhem, and armed assault in a dwelling, the newspaper reported.
The female victim suffered “multiple broken bones in (her) nose and eye area, and numerous lacerations and puncture wounds on (her) head and face,” according to Daily Hampshire Gazette. Daily Beast reported that Hachiyanagi allegedly tried to gouge out the victim’s eyes.
The college has placed her on administrative leave. According to the New York Post, Hachiyanagi is accused of driving to the victim uninvited and claiming she “wanted to talk about her feelings.” WWLP-TV reported that the victim was a colleague that Hachiyanagi had known for 14 years.
The television station said the victim told police when she opened the door to let Hachiyanagi inside and turned around, the professor started repeatedly hitting her over the head with a hard object.
The Gazette reported that the professor told the victim, “that she loved her for many years and she should have known.” The victim lied that she felt the same way to get Hachiyanagi to call 911, the newspaper says. When arrested, the professor had the victim’s “keys, cellphone and glasses,” according to the newspaper, which added that the victim is expected to survive.
Hachiyanagi initially claimed that she had found the professor injured and was trying to help her, which was how her clothes became bloody, according to Daily Beast.
2. Hachiyanagi, Who Is From Japan, First Came to the United States as a High School Exchange Student
According to her biography on the college’s website, Rie Hachiyanagi “came to the United States as a high school exchange student in rural Kansas from Sapporo, Japan.” It was this experience that drew her to the art world, the college explained.
“Her initial inability to effectively communicate in English led her to engage in artistic forms of expression,” Holyoke’s biography says.
The college says Hachiyanagi has worked at Mount Holyoke as a professor since 2004. Hachiyanagi previously taught at Alfred college in New York.
You can see a portfolio of some of her artwork here.
3. Hachiyanagi Is Collecting Stories of ‘Old Japanese Papermakers’ & Is Fascinated With Bamboo
The college says that Hachiyanagi’s art is driven by philosophy, conflicts among urges, and autobiographical events and social issues. She was once called a “poet-philosopher.”
Hachiyanagi’s “installation/handmade paper works, such as houses of beings and Lucid Absurdity, have dealt with the correspondence between visual and textual languages, which is established upon the absurd conflicts among urges, necessities, and mortality,” the college’s bio says.
“She draws her philosophy from Camus, Heidegger, Haiku poets, modern Japanese novelists, and ancient Chinese thinkers.”
The college bio explains that “Hachiyanagi’s artistic development is threaded with a series of performance works that are inspired by autobiographical events and social issues. Benevolence evoked an inner quietness with extremely slow and repetitive motions, questioning the exponential acceleration of our contemporary lives. MISEMONO: SIDESHOW dealt with cultural stereotypes and racial issues. Ritual for RED was a re-enactment of the lost memories suffered from a severe auto accident.”
She is currently researching the stories of “old Japanese papermakers.”
“She hopes to uncover a crucial female role in the history of papermaking, which has seldom been discussed in the traditional craft world,” the bio explains. “In addition, her recent fascination with bamboo has led her to investigate both history and methods of bamboo papermaking.”
4. Hachiyanagi Says Art Is ‘a Way of Being’ & ‘Poetic Occasions Define the Shape’ of Her Existence
Hachiyanagi has a website devoted to her professional career. “My work in performance and installation expresses both the concrete actuality and the ephemerality of life. Art is an experience set in a specific time and place. Such poetic occasions define the shape of my existence,” she wrote on her website.
“The process of making paper by hand allows me to be humble. As plant fiber and its beauty must be generated from nature. Our hands have brought paper into being. In paper resides a communion of nature and humanity.”
She concludes the opening on her website by saying: “Art is a way of being.” Her art was exhibited in other states.
5. Hachiyanagi Thinks Blank Paper Makes a Powerful Statement
In 2004, she told Deseret News: “I always want my work to be experiential. Something that’s not necessarily explainable but something experienced by the body and mind.”
That article indicated that “getting” some of Hachiyanagi’s artwork “may be an arduous task.”
It explained that she had an interest in blank pieces of paper. “Paper without markings remains silent,” Hachiyanagi said to Deseret News. “I create blank sheets of paper in order to let this speechlessness be visually loud and to let silence penetrate itself.”
Another installation, called “Tears,” consisted of “a space filled with slivers of dollar bills hanging from draped cloth,” according to Sculpture.org.