Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami

“To most, the real beauty of origami lies in its simplicity, allowing everyone to create their interpretation of the world in paper.”

– Vanessa Gould, director, Between the Folds

“In the beginning we didn’t know what would be possible, but then we tried to push the limits and eventually found that everything could be made.”

– Erik Demaine, artist, excerpt from Between the Folds

Folding Paper was a groundbreaking exhibition that explored the evolution of origami from craft to fine art, as well as its stunning modern-day applications in the fields of mathematics, engineering, design, and the global peace movement. Works by 45 master folders from around the world—from countries as diverse as Japan, the United States, Uruguay, and Russia—showcased the power and potential of contemporary origami. In these artists’ hands, paper is a medium for infinite creativity.

The exhibition’s four sections illustrated the transformation of origami into its current vehicle for artistic, scientific, and spiritual expression:

  1. The History of Origami
  2. Animals and Angels: Representations of Real and Imagined Realms
  3. Angles and Abstractions: Geometric Forms and Conceptual Constructions
  4. Inspirational Origami: Impact on Science, Industry, Fashion, and Beyond

The works ranged from lifelike and representational to mathematical and computer-generated to lyrical and abstract to social and political. The award-winning documentary film Between the Folds features 18 of the artists in the exhibition, and would correlate wonderfully with exhibition programming.

Folding Paper was developed by independent curator, author, and educator Meher McArthur, former curator of East Asian Art at Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California. Dr. Robert J. Lang, Folding Paper artist and physicist, served as exhibition advisor, and he and McArthur co-authored the exhibition catalogue. Lang is recognized as one of the world’s leading masters of paper folding and as a pioneer of the marriage of origami with mathematics and science.

IA&A developed Folding Paper for tour through a partnership with the Japanese American National Museum. The exhibition was generously supported by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA
March 10, 2012 – August 26, 2012

Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery of Keene State College, Keene, NH
October 14, 2012 – January 6, 2013

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI
January 26, 2013 – April 7, 2013

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
June 30, 2013 – September 29, 2013

Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR
October 19, 2013 – January 11, 2014

Peoria Riverfront Museum, Peoria, IL
January 31, 2014 – April 27, 2014

Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
May 16, 2014 – September 21, 2014

Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, Bonita Springs, FL
October 10, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, UT
January 29, 2015 – June 20, 2015

Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge, LA
July 11, 2015 – September 27, 2015

Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID
October 24, 2015 – January 17, 2016

Redefining ‘billfold’
NPR Segment – Marketplace Life, interview by Tess Vigeland, July 20, 2012

Folding paper: Origami as contemporary art
LA Observed, by Nancy Matsumoto, June 20, 2012

Origami Show Knows When to Fold ‘em
Los Angeles Downtown News, by Richard Guzmán, April 18, 2012

Know How to Fold ‘Em: How Origami Changed Science, From Heart Stents to Airbags
LA Weekly, by Susan Bell, April 26, 2012

Folding Paper: The Infinite Possibilities of Origami—An Interview with Curator Meher McArthur
Discover Nikkei, by Darryl Mori, March 2, 2012

Sipho Mabona’s Swarm of Flying Money Origami Locusts, by Apostolos Mitsios, March 16, 2012

Roll Over, Picasso…Origami to be fetaured in art museums across the U.S.
The Paper: The Magazine of OrigamiUSA, by Meher McArthur, March 16, 2012

‘Origami Engineer’ Flexes to Create Stronger, More Agile Materials – Profile: Zhong You
Science Magazine, by Zeeya Merali, June 17, 2011

The Big Idea – Extreme Origami
National Geographic, by Rob Kunzig, September 15, 2009