PAPER POWER An Exhibit of Origami Art at MoMath

By Joe Meny

New York’s first-ever exhibition on the math of origami–the Japanese art of paper folding – is currently at the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). The Museum is located at 11 East 26th Street across from Madison Square Park.

This exhibition, which runs through Friday, January 3, features artwork from the world’s most highly regarded origami artists currently working at the intersection of art and mathematics, including: Robert Lang, Erik Demaine, Charlene Morrow, Adrienne Sack, Matt Shlian, WinWin, and many others.

“We are thrilled to partner with OrigamiUSA to open New York’s first-ever math origami exhibition,” said Cindy Lawrence, CEO and Executive Director of MoMath. Cindy added, “This exhibition will educate our visitors about the various geometric shapes, designs, and mathematical patterns used to design origami, and where they can find these same mathematical designs in the world around us.”

“Math Unfolded: An Exhibit of Mathematical Origami Art” is curated by Charlene Morrow, Chair of the Board, OrigamiUSA, and Wendy Zeichner, the CEO of OrigamiUSA. The exhibit includes commentary explaining the mathematical ideas and concepts that were used by each artist to transform a piece of paper into a compelling work of art that embodies the beauty of mathematics.

Asian Fusion was both thrilled and amazed to see this beautiful exhibit at MoMath. Artistic, colorful, and fun to look at, we reached out to the curators, Charlene Morrow and Wendy Zeichner, for their perspectives and insights into the art of Origami, and some background on this exhibit.


Robert J. Lang
Dragonfly TPS, Opus 583 (2012)

AF: Congratulations on a great exhibit! So much fun, so much to see! From inception to opening night…were there any challenges? Any surprises? 

Charlene: It was a challenge to create an exhibit that had a diverse set of objects that would create many connection points to viewers, but yet maintain a high degree of coherence.

I have been surprised and delighted at visitors astonishment at what can be created simply by folding paper!

Wendy: We actually put together the exhibit in a relatively short time period with a limited budget. I was surprised and pleased at the generosity of the origami artists who contributed and helped make this exhibit a reality.

Erik Demaine Linen Swirls, Linen Series (2015)

AF: If you had to choose, which would you say is your favorite Origami design(s), and why?

Charlene: This may sound silly, but every piece is my favorite, each for a different reason — Beth Johnson’s jellyfish for their inventiveness and artistic beauty, Serena Cicaló’s tiny Menger Sponge/Complement that is deceptively so much more complex than it looks, Robert Lang’s PCOC Pots, the Demaine’s swirls….well you see what I mean. I am so happy to have the David Huffman curved crease pieces in the show. They are rarely seen and so clever and elegant.

Origami, mathematics, and the world we live in. Please share with us how you believe it all comes together in this Exhibition.

I have a strong belief that the more we pursue the aesthetic aspects of mathematics and science, the more we will also, eventually, see the useful side. And even if we don’t find things immediately useful in a practical way, it’s important to have beauty in our lives for no other reason than it feeds our soul. This exhibition is about bringing people together around the beauty of mathematics and origami.

Wendy: I love all the pieces for different reasons, but if I had to choose, I would pick the fashion pieces by Uyen Nguyen—the Stem & Leaf Ensemble. The folds in these skirts are examples of the Fibonacci Sequence which really shows the math connection and the beauty of mathematics. This sequence is also displayed in nature and can be seen in seashells, flowers and even the shape of the galaxy. I also really love the pieces by Satoshi Kamiya from Japan—his model of a lobster is so realistic (even the underside is accurate) it’s hard to believe it’s folded from a single sheet of square paper with no cutting.

Origami, mathematics, and the world we live in. Please share with us how you believe it all comes together in this Exhibition. 

The math used in creating origami is also used in creating technology. For example, origami algorithms were used to create the folding sequence of airbags and solar panels that open in space.


Joel Cooper Mask #1 (2019)

AF: What’s happening with OrigamiUSA that you would like to share with our readers?

Charlene: We have held two fabulous conferences this year, one in Queens and one in Portland, Or. Now we are preparing for our annual origami holiday tree, which will be on display at the American Museum of Natural History from late November through mid January. It is a 15 foot tall tree covered with origami models! We hold classes and events open to all throughout the year, so check our website for more info: origamiiusa.org

Wendy: OrigamiUSA is a non-profit organization devoted to spreading the joy of paperfolding. We have an Annual Convention at St. John’s University in Queens, NY and just finished our west coast Convention in Portland, OR. Our conventions attract paperfolders from around the globe. Our headquarters are at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and we will soon be putting up our 15-foot Holiday Tree covered with origami. We will be having classes at the AMNH (called Special Sessions) in October, November, and December. Our website is origamiusa.org.