Universe of Potential
I met Ben’s work before I met Ben. In a rather smallish gallery in Middletown, CT, paper tessellations hung within simple frames. The breadth of design made one more beautiful than the next and kept my eyes busy long before I realized that Ben, a very quiet, gentle person, was in the room, folding away. I wanted to know more, but decided to purchase his book, Six Simple Twists, before approaching him.
Since that first meeting, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ben through his artist talks at several exhibitions as well as meet with him and other paper enthusiasts’ at Make Hartford Paper Arts Gathering, a monthly opportunity of all kinds of paper art, which he started and fosters. Spending time with Ben never disappoints.
And now the page is his.
Breaking the Pattern – Bulb Corrugation
As an origami artist, I get asked many questions. The idea of that origami (paper folding) is as an art form is not common, so people are curious about what I mean. Like any discipline, I get standard inquiries. There are typically increased levels of interest as each question is asked. Here’s the common set that occurs:
“How many sheets of paper is this?” When I answer “One,” the questioner’s curiosity is piqued, which leads to “Did you cut the paper?” to which the reply is, “Once cut to size, the paper is not cut,” and then “Where do you find paper like that” referring to the hundreds of creased grid lines that fill the piece (“I fold the lines by hand”). And finally, “How long does it take?” (“Generally 3-10 hours”).
But that’s a purpose of art, to make you rethink the way you view the world, globally or focused like the rules behind a sheet of paper. The questioner is placed into my position when I’m designing. My purpose is to see the result. When I was learning the techniques, I would ask many of the same questions that I get asked nowadays. After an understanding of the work, there’s inquiry into how it’s done, which fuels the process, and the paper becomes a canvas on which to draw and explore. From 2007, I would explore tessellations, or geometric tilings of pleats such as these:
In 2014, once I understood the mechanics, I played with more formats, where the pattern is distorted in some manner. This led to the series Breaking the Pattern and Disruption, which explores different aspects of grid expression.
Breaking the Pattern – Emergence
Disruption – Writhe
Disruption – Undulation
With my own studies, I explored how origami could be combined with other media. Likewise, some who saw my work became curious about collaboration. I met alternative photographer Christine Dalenta in 2013, which kicked off an active and ongoing collaborative series. Christine’s studies were based around folding the paper in the darkroom, exposing it to light while folded and then processing it through traditional photographic means. After an hour of meeting we created, Second Degree Corrugation:
This fusion of origami and photography has generated its own set of questions:
Q: “Is this a photograph of origami?”
A: No, the effect on the paper is derived from the folds that were on the paper when exposed.
Q: “Where did you find this paper?”
A: Christine was given a box by a friend and began experimenting. It is out of production and difficult to find.
Q: “Can you work in color?”
A: “Oh, yes! Our most recent work was made by with cyanotype and Van Dyke processes, a deep blue and brown, respectively.”
Cyanotype – Spirals
Van Dyke Brown Spirals
Christine and I continue to work together every week. We have several collaborative exhibits each year, and this year, we had the honor of being selected to exhibit at AIPAD in New York City.
This collaboration is the longest-running I’ve had, but I always look for interesting ways to view origami. I’m working with pottery artists to create molds, and I co-founded Paper Valley Designs, LLC., an origami invitation and decoration service. On the surface, it can be difficult to see how origami can be more than what we learn in grade school. But once the surface is broken, there is a universe of potential that I have spent the last decade of my life exploring. There is truly no end in sight, so long as there are questions left unanswered.
For more information:
Ben Parker’s Website: www.brdparker.com
Ben and Christine’s Collaboration Website: www.dalentaparker.com
Paper Valley Designs Event Planning: www.papervalleydesigns.com