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Arts & Culture

Origami In The Garden Unfolding At The San Antonio Botanical Garden

A new art installation at the San Antonio Botanical Garden owes its beginnings to an ancient Asian art form. That art form is called origami, and artist Kevin Box explains it.

"Origami is a Japanese word, that means paper folding," he said.

In origami, one takes a single sheet of paper and through exacting folding, makes something magical with it: a bird, a flower, a geometric shape. 

Box noted that feeling of magic is what inspires him artistically about origami.

“It’s just like being an artist or a musician or even a mathematician. We all begin making something out of nothing," he said.

What Box and his wife artist Jennifer have made for this installation though, doesn't actually begin with a square of blank paper. They use another technique to mimic origami.

"We primarily use the lost wax casting technique, which I like to jokingly say is a very simple 35-step, 12-week process,” he joked. “I use wax and paper; we actually take big sheets of metal and we cut them into the shapes and weld them back together."

The results look like origami, but are much bigger.

 Paper Navigator (2016), Kevin Box
Credit Courtesy of Box Studio
Paper Navigator (2016), Kevin Box

"There are 16 installations throughout the garden that are composed of 21 different sculptures. It's giant as far as origami is concerned because it usually is something that fits in the palm of your hand,” he said. “And all of these pieces are much larger than that. A few that are 8 feet tall, some life-size horses. "

There is a running theme of optimism that comes from origami's roots — that making something out of nothing art form — that he sees playing out in this installation.

"Yeah, absolutely. It certainly is the theme that permeates all of the works in the exhibition.”

White Bison – garden (2017), Kevin Box & Robert J. Lang
Credit Courtesy of Box Studio
White Bison – garden (2017), Kevin Box & Robert J. Lang

Box said that in this COVID-19 era, places like the Botanical Garden offer art outlets that you can still experience. 

“The Botanical Garden is a great, safe outdoor place for families to gather and experience something in a nice outdoor setting," he said.

Origami in the Garden opens this Saturday, Sept. 19 and will be there through Mother's Day, May 9, 2021.

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

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