A father-son art-science team, Martin and Erik Demaine fold, pleat, and twist paper into powerful sculptural forms that illustrate the intriguing and profound connections between mathematics and origami. Using mathematical calculations, they create works that expand the possibilities of paper folding. Among other accomplishments, the Demaines have pioneered Möbius hypars, a method of folding in which paper is folded along a curved rather than a straight line.
Above the Fold includes selections from their signature abstract curved-crease sculptures, which use modular techniques to increase sculptural size. They have also created large works that incorporate text and Möbius hypars interlocked through space, thus blending art, science, and literature.
Vincent Floderer has developed a specialized method of crumpling, dampening, and stretching origami paper to create representational sculptures of organic forms such as mushrooms, toadstools, and other fungi. To achieve realism, he typically uses tissue paper or even paper napkins, applying beeswax and other substances to enhance color and texture. He also constructs multi-layered forms such as corals, sponges, sea urchins, and jellyfish by using several sheets of paper.
Floderer’s Unidentified Flying Origami (2002–present), is an expanse of floating, rotating organic models. Derived from classic modular and box-pleated origami forms, the models become otherworldly creations in the artist’s hands. The dynamic installation adapts to each venue’s gallery space, changing aesthetically with each presentation.
Peace activist, educator, and origami artist Miri Golan hopes to use her installations as a catalyst to unite people of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Many of her works use the book as a symbol of education, wisdom, and spirituality—ideas that can be used to help bring people on opposite sides of conflicts together. Her sculptures incorporate a variety of spiritual texts in unexpected ways and suggest that despite religious differences, people are fundamentally the same. Golan is the founder of Folding Together, an organization that encourages Israeli and Palestinian children and adults to fold paper forms as a team, turning origami into a collaborative expression of hope for a more peaceful world. Golan’s work represents the possibility for origami to be a platform for positive social change.
An art school graduate who became an expert in origami, Paul Jackson has published 30 books on the subject and taught university-level design courses on folding techniques for institutions and festivals around the world. In contrast to the complex, detailed origami works of other artists in this exhibition, Jackson’s paper installations aspire to be “simple, elegant in sequence and form, surprising in concept, and even audacious.”
The untitled 2014 work featured in Above the Fold consists of a series of large, folded photographs of the artist’s own hands in the process of folding paper. The photographs are hung back-to-back from the ceiling with one side appearing smooth and the other appearing fragmented or abstracted, offering new perspectives on how we view ourselves.
Trained in electrical engineering and applied physics, Robert J. Lang gave up his day job working for institutions like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to focus on the art and science of origami, becoming one of the world’s leading origami masters. He has pioneered several new folding methods and collaborated with sculptors and photographers to create works in an array of styles and forms.
Pentasia (2014) is an example of modular origami, with a surface composed of equilateral triangles and theoretically extending to infinity without ever repeating itself. For Vertical Pond II (2014), Lang constructed a lively school of koi out of 60 sheets of colorful paper handmade by renowned papermaker Michael LaFosse and his partner Richard Alexander.
A young talent, Yuko Nishimura has already received major awards for her origami-based artworks. With a background in architecture and design, she creates both wall-mounted and three-dimensional pieces that intersect the worlds of architecture and fine art.
The wall pieces featured in this exhibition are relief works constructed out of meticulously folded single white sheets of handmade Japanese paper. The repetitive pleating of “mountain” and “valley” folds produces dramatic geometric patterns that allow light and shadow to play across the textured surfaces. Named for naturally occurring phenomena, these works reflect Nishimura’s interest in the more spiritual connotations of origami, a practice that can be traced back to Japanese Shinto rituals and gift-giving traditions and whose root words ori (fold) and kami (paper) are a homonym for “praying to God.”
Although not a student of traditional origami, Richard Sweeney uses his art-school training in sculpture and three-dimensional design to take paper folding in new artistic directions. Combining hand-craft with computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques, the artist seeks to maintain an experimental, hands-on approach, utilizing the inherent properties of often mundane materials to discover unique forms.
For his larger-scale installations, he suspends sections of pleated paper, often wrapping around each other, from the ceilings of galleries and public spaces. Seen from below, spiraling downwards or swirling horizontally through the air, Sweeney’s works are dramatic constructions that blend poetry with precision.
Fascinated with origami as a child growing up in China, Jiangmei Wu fell in love with the art form while studying architecture and design in college. Now an assistant professor of design at Indiana University, Wu is also a practicing artist and designer whose sculptures, installations, and functional lamps are inspired by patterns found in nature. The geometric surface textures of sea shells, plants, and other organisms are graphically abstracted in Wu’s original origami compositions. Recently, the artist has been folding paper to create three-dimensional “interior skins” (an architectural term referring to all interior surfaces, from walls, ceilings, and floors to upholstery and curtains) from a single sheet of material.
Ruga Swan (2014)—a large, collapsible installation that is both rigid and flexible—is made out of two folded sections joined together. Evoking a shell or a cave when fully extended, the work unites Wu’s fascination with interior skins, natural forms, and the effects of light and shadow.