Origami exhibition opens March 5, showing off cutting-edge folded works

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       Media Contact:
February 14, 2017                                                                     
Chris Potash                                                                                                         (610) 432-4333 ext 125
                                                                                                        cpotash [at] allentownartmuseum [dot] org

                              ORIGAMI, LARGE AND SMALL, COMING TO ALLENTOWN
    Groundbreaking exhibition of contemparary folded works is unexpected, extraordinary 

Allentown, PA—The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley is pleased to announce the public opening of Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami on Sunday, March 5, 2017, from noon till 4 p.m. Nine visionary master folders from around the globe push the boundaries of paper as a medium to create bold, provocative works. The show was curated by Meher McArthur and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C. Above the Fold continues at the Art Museum through May 28.

Admission and activities on opening day are free to everyone:
1 p.m.: Israeili artist Miri Golan will present a lecture and workshop about Folding Together, an international project that uses origami to bring together children and their families of different faiths.
1–3:30 p.m.: Mark Kennedy and Arline Gorchov of the Lehigh Valley Origami Enthusiasts will show visitors of all ages how to fold.
2 p.m.: First guided tour through the exhibition.
All day: Hands-on activities for families and children in Art Ways Interactiove Family Gallery.

Above the Fold demonstrates the extraordinary artistic achievements being made in the world of contemporary origami. In the hands of these select artists, what was once considered a children’s craft becomes a sophisticated and often breathtaking global art form. Paper is transformed into dramatic sculpture, large-scale installations, and conceptual works that express contemporary social, political, aesthetic, and cultural dialogues. Above the Fold is the first traveling exhibition to bring a group of origami installations and conceptual sculptures from around the world to North American audiences.

Origami, literally meaning paper folding, has evolved from a Japanese craft into a highly expressive, global art form that intersects and impacts the realms of art and science. Today, artists from all over the world are folding paper into increasingly elaborate and provocative sculptural works, while scientists and mathematicians are using origami to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Since even our DNA is folded, origami artist Paul Jackson has expressed, “You and I are born from folding.”

Each artist has created pieces specifically for this tour—and together for the first time, their collective works will present unique, “above the fold” commentaries on diverse aspects of modern life and art.

Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine (Canada/USA): A father/son art/science team, the Demaines fold, pleat, and twist paper into powerful sculptural forms that illustrate the intriguing and profound connections between mathematics and origami. They use mathematical calculations to create unconventional works that challenge the direction of paper folding. For years the Demaines have been exploring the potential of curved folding, in which paper is folded along a curved rather than a straight line. The Demaines have folded a series of their signature abstract curved-crease sculptures using modular techniques to increase sculptural size. They also created combined glass-and-paper folded forms, large works that incorporate text, and mobius hypars (curved-crease foldings) interlocked through space, thus blending art, science, and literature.

Vincent Floderer (France): An artist who specializes in crumpling, a technique that includes dampening and stretching origami paper to create organic and multilayered forms, Floderer created a dynamic, large-scale installation called Unidentified Flying Origami, a universe of floating, rotating organic models that move via airflow. The models show the creative process Floderer uses to develop his crumpling techniques. Each model derives from classical, modular, box-pleated origami forms that he transforms into otherworldly creations. 

Miri Golan (Israel): A peace activist, educator, and origami artist, Golan has created a series of book sculptures based on her conceptual piece in the traveling exhibition Folding Paper, Two Books, in which origami figures emerge from the pages of two sacred texts, the Torah and the Koran, and reach out to each other. Golan hopes to use her installations as a catalyst to unite people of different religious and cultural backgrounds. She has founded an organization called Folding Together, a group that encourages Israeli and Palestinian children and adults to fold paper forms as a team, turning the creation of origami into a collaborative expression of hope for a more peaceful world. Golan’s work represents the possibility for origami to be not only a means of artistic expression but also a platform for positive social change.

Yuko Nishimura (Japan): A young talent, Nishimura is already an award-winning origami artist. With a background in architecture and design, Nishimura contributes several framed, wall-hung tessellations in which light and shadow interplay on the folded surface of the paper to dramatic effect. Nishimura comments, “I think there must be a special meaning for Japanese people through this everyday practice, folding…. In order to link the past with future generations regarding the form of folding, I do not limit myself to the category of origami but consider the pursuit of any possibility of folding paper.”

Dr. Robert J. Lang (USA): A former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory laser physicist and professional origami artist, author, and lecturer, Dr. Lang will create a large, modular mathematical piece exploring the concept of infinity. In modular origami, multiple sheets of paper are folded into individual units—or modules—and combined to form larger, more complex geometric structures. Works are held together by the friction and tension created by inserting flaps from one module into pockets of another. Titled Pentasia, the surface of Dr. Lang’s work is composed of equilateral triangles and theoretically extends to infinity without ever repeating itself.

Paul Jackson (UK/Israel): A folder who specializes in abstract origami sculptures and takes a highly philosophical approach to the process of folding—and unfolding—Jackson designs a series of large, folded photographs featuring the artist’s own hands folding paper. The piece, titled Drawn, Quartered, and Hung, is suspended from the ceiling, with images appearing on the front and back of the sculpture. On one side the image appears smooth, on the opposite it is fragmented or abstracted, offering new perspectives on how we view ourselves.

Richard Sweeney (UK): A multimedia artist, rather than an origami artist per se, Sweeney combines handcrafted, three-dimensional models with computer-aided design and CNC (computer numerical control) techniques in the creation of his works. He has created a large-scale pleated paper installation called Column that spirals downward from the ceiling in a form that blends poetry with precision.

Jiangmei Wu (China/USA): Currently an assistant professor in design at Indiana University–Bloomington, she also works as an artist and designer and is interested in how folding can be expressed mathematically, physically, and aesthetically; how it can be done with different material and techniques; and how these aspects work together with the conceptual space in which they occur. In her folded works like Ruga Swan (ruga is the Latin for “a fold, crease or wrinkle”), the folded forms have rigid properties and at the same time are flexible; they are deployable and can be collapsed again into smaller compressed forms. This installation, created from two folded sections joined together, unites her fascination with interior skin, natural forms, and the effects of light and shadow.

Above the Fold debuted at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA, in January 2015 and continued to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, L, before coming to Allentown. It will travel to the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, SD, in the summer of 2017.


Above the Fold is supported through the generosity of the Harry C. Trexler Trust, the Julius and Katheryn Hommer Foundation, the Century Fund, the Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, the Amaranth Foundation, the County of Lehigh, Joan M. Moran, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, the Rider-Pool Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Museum.

Meher McArthur is an independent Asian art curator, author, and educator. She was a curator for many years at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA, and now curates and consults for several southern California museums and galleries. She has published several books on Asian art and culture and writes regularly about contemporary Asian and Asian American artists for the website KCET Artbound as well as Fabrik and Artillery magazines.

International Arts & Artists in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally through exhibitions, programs, and services to artists, art institutions, and the public.

The Allentown Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that participates in the cultural, educational, and economic life of the Lehigh Valley. Defined by a unique combination of tradition and innovation, our collections, educational partnerships, collaborative and community based programs, and exhibitions are dedicated to inspiring the broadest possible public engagement, access, and service.  For more information please visit AllentownArtMuseum.org.