Origami is a years-old practice that many of us did as children—learning how to create folded paper boxes and cranes. But there’s much more to this craft than a child’s past time. This artistic tradition used by contemporary artists who are continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with paper. See below the artwork of those who are paper folding masters.
Cutting Edge Origami Artists / Paper Folding Masters
So, just what is the history of origami and who are these artists using the craft to create cutting edge origami artwork? A compound word, origami is formed from the Japanese words for fold (ori) and paper (kami). It’s not entirely clear when origami invented, but in the 6th-century, the article brought to Japan by Buddhist monks, and with that came folding. At the time, the paper was a luxury commodity, and origami used during Shinto ceremonies.
However, the development of origami was not limited to Asia. Independently, paper folding was also developing in Spain due to the influence of the Arabic community in the 12th century. These roots grew into the modern Spanish art form of papiroflexia.
Sipho Mabona started his adventures in origami as many of us did—by folding a paper airplane. Since that time, the Swiss and South African artist has become a leader in the field. Whether sculpting life-sized animals or using the money to create installations that speak on social issues, Mabona produces thought-provoking work.
Robert J. Lang left his job as a laser physicist to pursue his 30-year origami hobby. Today he is one of the most esteemed artists in the field, using mathematics to develop innovative models. He’s used his knowledge to collaborate with scientists and engineers, using his understanding of folding techniques in airbag software, medical devices, and telescope optics.
Croatian mathematician and computer scientist Goran Konjevod has produced delicately folded sculptures since pursuing origami as art in 2005. Abstract shapes formed from random patterns, his layered work relies on natural tension found in the paper.
Jeannine Mosley, who received her Ph.D. from MIT, turned to alternative materials for her origami—business cards. She is best known for her business card Menger Sponge, a mathematical fractal created by continually dividing each face of a cube into nine squares and removing the resulting smaller cube in the middle of each face and the center of the original cube. Over the course of 11 years, Mosley created a “level three” Menger Sponge from 66,000 business cards. Subsequently, she completed similar fractals such as the Mosely Snowflake Sponge.
Hoang Tien Quyet carries on Akira Yoshizawa’s wet folding technique with his art. The Vietnamese artist focuses on sculpted animals, made all the more realistic through the intricate folding that the origami technique allows. Quyet is a member of the Vietnam Origami Group along with Giang Dinh, who first introduced him to the wet fold method.