"Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami" at the Crocker Art Museum is the first major exhibition to explore the rich tradition of paper folding, both in Japan and Europe.
“Folding Paper” is organized into 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.”
Michael LaFosse, Alexander Swallowtail. Butterfly
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.
"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.
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.
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https://www.crockerartmuseum.org/ Through September 29.
At the Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/article/folding-paper-the-infinite-possibilities-of-origami-at-the-crocker-art-museum