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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Passion for Paper: Stony Brook’s Origami Exhibition and Festival

    Walking among the almost animate paper sculptures at Stony Brook’s second annual Origami Exhibition and Festival, visitors were given a taste of the rich origami culture and tradition. Adorned in handmade octahedral ‘Saar star’ paper earrings and crane embellished tunic-coat, featured artist Ros Joyce spiritedly presented her latest origami creations.

    The weeklong Origami Exhibit, hosted by the Wang Center and Long Island Folding Enthusiasts, from August 2-9 provided visitors with a small peek into the endless possibilities of paper folding. The designs and sculptures on display at the exhibit ranged from the more customary Asian cranes and dragons to the more modern and whimsical angels, unicorns and floral ensembles. Several tables even featured ‘how-to’ setups; a completed sculpture was backtracked to a single sheet of paper, thus inviting visitors to go home and do it themselves.

    Studying the’ various examples’ of origami present in the room filled those at the exhibit with amazement and appreciation. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ exclaimed prospective Stony Brook student Chris Gaugler, ‘I wonder how [Ros Joyce] can form these unique shapes!’ English literacy tutor, Bee, expressed her surprise’ at the ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ sculptures by suggesting that if she could, she would ‘learn how to fold.’ Luckily, the exhibition culminated in an all-day festival where children and adults alike were encouraged to create their own origami masterpieces during Storigami. ‘It’s like magic,’ gushed Ros Joyce.

    The festival consisted of storytelling sessions that walked participants through the many steps required to’ create a work of origami in the form of a story. Origami, which is more popularly known as a traditional Japanese art, actually originated in China, according to Shrikant Iyer, lead coordinator of the event. Historically, origami was an exclusive art reserved for wealthy individuals who could afford the cost of paper. Japanese Samurai, for example, would often exchange gifts of origami as expressions of good luck by folding a piece of dried meat or fish into the sculpture. The art of paper folding is no longer restricted by traditional bounds, and it now employs a wide array of materials and textures for more innovative creations.

    Inspiration for artist Ros Joyce’s work comes from everyday life. Her origami pieces are created out of everything from leatherette and vellum to dollar bills and Metrocards. ‘I’ve been accused of trying to fold roofing tiles,’ joked Joyce. For more uncooperative materials, such as plastic mesh, she enlists the help of her ‘secret recipe’ to keep her folds in place. What is her secret recipe? A spray bottle full of water! The techniques for creating origami are as varied as the materials being used with them. Wetfolding is using water or hairspray to keep folds in place. Backcoating utilizes double sided paper to create complex looking origami. Curved folding uses a computer to plot points on paper through an inputted formula, and then folding to connect the dots. Interpretation and persistence are key elements for successful paper folding.

    In the end, however, ‘It’s all just about having fun,’ confessed Joyce. In recent years, origami has become an American phenomenon. It is truly the ‘essence of Asian America,’ said Shrikant Iyer. With the Origami Exhibition, Iyer hoped to ‘spread awareness’ of origami and ‘share the joy’ that comes from paper folding. It is an opportunity for ‘displaying the multifaceted culture of Asian Americans,’ said Dr. Sunita Mukhti, Director of Asian American Programs. The public should ’embrace and have faith in their creative abilities,’ continued Iyer. Art is an ‘important part’ of the human spirit and people should not be ‘intimidated’ by it, Iyer insisted. Numerous origami hobby groups and organizations exist across the country – OrigamiUSA, ifold.org and Long Island Folding Enthusiasts (LIFE), to name a few. For those interested in exploring the world of origami, it is easy to get involved. All it takes are two hands and a piece of paper!

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