Every fold and every crease tells a story. These stories may not be portrayed in your typical art mediums; however, they are alive in the crafting of paper. Origami—it’s a form of art that many of us associate with paper cranes, but these artists who are featured in the Thorne-Sagendorph’s new exhibit take the skill of origami to the next level. The subtle halls in the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery will hold a history of an entire art form for the next 12 weeks.
The exhibit, Folding Paper, focuses on four concepts that illustrate the evolution of the ancient craft to its modern applications. The public is walked through the history of origami, representations of real and imagined realms, geometric forms, and finally origami’s impact on modern society. This exhibit displays the work of artists from countries around the world such as, Japan, Russia, the United States and Uruguay.
[singlepic id=1286 w=320 h=240 float=right]
The gallery draws attention to the aspects of origami that aren’t as well-known, techniques such as wet folding and their development in the modern art. The pieces range from straightforward paper folding to elaborately shaped faces. The gallery shows things that many people on campus may have not thought possible. Maureen Ahern, director of the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, said that this display was brought to Keene State College “because it was a chance for this community to see a very unusual art form that is not normally visible to us, and it brings together works of artists from all over the world.”
The exhibit, curated by Meher McArthur exposes the history behind the transformation of a plain piece of paper into a masterfully crafted piece of artwork. This exhibit, which is unlike others that have been in the Thorne gallery, provides a new perspective on what defines an artist and art. “This is the first time we’ve ever done an origami show, and I think it’s one of the first times origami has been presented as an art form that has traveled nationally,” Ahern said, “It was organized with the national Japanese museum.” The exhibition has approximately 140 works of art from more than 40 artists ranging from photographs and videos to clothing and lighting. The exhibition is touring across the United States, and is booked all the way until January 2016. Walking through the double doors of the Thorne, a spotlight biography draws the viewer’s eye before the paper pieces. The display is organized to walk the viewer through origami; the first part, the history of origami, began with a brief biography of of Yoshizawa Akira, the “father of modern origami.” Then one notices the near foot long armadillo, titled “Pangolin,” by Eric Joisel, and the face on the wall that echoes Mesopotamian design, titled “Cyrus” by Joel Cooper, both done in paper. “Pangolin,” is a favorite piece of junior Jordan Chase. Chase said that Joisel’s ability to transform a piece of paper into scales that not only look realistic but bring the piece to life, is what makes this exhibit different from any other. “It’s different in the fact that it’s sculptures made out of paper, other than paintings or pictures,” Chase said, “I’ve seen basic origami but not this involved. When you think of origami, you think of small piece of paper not a sculpture.”
[singlepic id=1287 w=320 h=240 float=right]
This exhibit shows that something as simple as transforming a plain piece of white paper into a form of art that is intricate is what separates itself from any other form of art. “I think it attracts people who are interested in the arts, but also people who are interested in craft, in science, in mathematics, and discovery, design, all of that,” Ahern said, “It’s also accessible, it’s something people can do in their homes, they can fold, and they can make fun things out of paper.” Chris McCall, a visitor at the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery said, “Seeing it here is daunting because you can see how much work goes into it.” However, what these artists have accomplished with a piece of paper is a design that is not only intricate, but a design where every fold and crease has an intended purpose. And all of these calculations aid in making this a collection of art that is unique to its kind.
The gallery then moves into the more modern and abstract, books torn and folded, and masks shaped into animals. One of the centerpieces, a long white dress made out of paper, “Star Tessellated Dress and High Heels” by Linda Tomoko Mihara was wearable. The exhibition will be on display in the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery from Oct. 13 until Dec. 9.
Sam Norton can be contacted at
Augustus Stahl can be contacted at