SACRAMENTO — The Crocker Art Museum announces “Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami,” an engaging, thought-provoking and interdisciplinary look at the modern advances of origami through contemporary artworks, inventions and videos. On view from June 30 through Sept. 29, 2013, this is the first major exhibition to explore the rich tradition of paper folding both in Japan and Europe.
Dynamic, innovative, and exquisite — the art of origami, or folding paper, exceeds the boundaries of craft. Origami today inspires innovative concepts in math and design, and inventions in engineering, architecture and technology. The origami crane has even become a symbol of the global peace movement. Featuring approximately 140 works by more than 50 international artists, this groundbreaking examination of paper also includes origami-related woodblock prints, photograph murals and videos.
“Folding Paper” has four sections, beginning with The History of Origami. Paper was introduced to Japan via China around the 6th century AD and Japanese paper folding is assumed to have begun shortly afterward. Rooted in the ceremonial world, most notably in the native Shinto tradition, priests performed purification rituals using zigzag strips of folded white papers known as shide. Paper folding as a pastime arose under the Imperial Court of the Heian period (794-1185). A little known European tradition of paper folding also existed, and after Japan adopted the German kindergarten system in the late 19th century, both Eastern and Western paper-folding techniques were incorporated into the Japanese curriculum as a method of developing children’s mathematical, artistic and manual skills. The two folding traditions combined to become known for the first time as “origami” — which translates to “folded paper.”
The second section, Animals and Angels: Representations of Real and Imagined Realms, illustrates the work of origami artists who create realistic and stylized representations of the natural and supernatural worlds. Many contemporary origami artists have transcended the traditional flat, angular representations of animals and humans and use specially made paper to enhance textural richness.
Artist Eric Joisel and Michael LaFosse, in particular, have adopted the wet-folding technique — which enables the smoothing and rounding of points and angles — so skillfully that their figures appear chiseled rather than folded. Vincent Floderer uses unconventional techniques and materials such as crumpling paper napkins to achieve a textural naturalism, while the subtle abstraction of Giang Dinh’s barely folded figures and Paulo Mulatinho’s delicate crane endows the works with great spirituality. The complexity of the natural and imagined worlds has inspired these artists to fold increasingly complicated creatures out of single squares of paper.
Angles and Abstractions: Geometric Forms and Conceptual Constructions highlights origami’s mathematical roots through modular objects and tessellations. Typically, modulars are geometric structures like the works of mathematician Tom Hull and artist Miyuki Kawamura, whose works are made up of many pieces of paper held together with friction and tension, but they can be as diverse as the twisted floral forms of Krystyna and Wojtek Burczyk and Heinz Strobl’s paper strip spheres. More abstract and conceptual pieces are also displayed with the abstract sculptures of Erik and Martin Demaine and Paul Jackson.
The final section, Inspirational Origami: Its Impact on Science, Industry, Fashion and Beyond, explores the transformative power of modern-day origami. Origami is not only used to explain and teach arithmetic and geometry, but computational origami employs algorithms and theory to solve complex problems. For example, Dr. Robert J. Lang is a scientist and mathematician who used computational origami to determine how to fold the lens for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Eyeglass Telescope so that it could be launched compactly and then re-opened in space. The resulting design used an origami structure he called the “Umbrella” after its resemblance in the furled state to a collapsible umbrella.
After its presentation at the Crocker Art Museum, the exhibition will continue its tour to Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Ore.; Peoria Riverfront Museum, Peoria, Ill.; Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Wash.; Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, Bonita Springs, Fla.; Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, Utah; Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge, La.; and Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho.
For an updated tour schedule visit artsandartists.org/exhibitions-foldingpaper.php.
Folding Paper is curated by Meher McArthur with tour organized by the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles and International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. The exhibition was generously supported by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.