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updated: 5/17/2017 1:47 PM

Origami-inspired sculptures to dot Morton Arboretum grounds this summer

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  • Sara DeZara of Glen Ellyn makes some drawings next to "White Bison," part of the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit visiting the Morton Arboretum. Sculptures are crafted from sheets of metal folded like paper.

      Sara DeZara of Glen Ellyn makes some drawings next to "White Bison," part of the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit visiting the Morton Arboretum. Sculptures are crafted from sheets of metal folded like paper.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • "Rock Paper Scissors" is part of the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit created by New Mexico artists.

      "Rock Paper Scissors" is part of the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit created by New Mexico artists.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Morton Arboretum visitors will find "Paper Navigators" among the 40 metal sculptures in the "Origami in the Garden" exhibition at the museum this summer.

      Morton Arboretum visitors will find "Paper Navigators" among the 40 metal sculptures in the "Origami in the Garden" exhibition at the museum this summer.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent

Geometry is at the heart of the artful shapes recently delivered to the Morton Arboretum for a new exhibit opening this weekend.

Inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding, a group of sculptors' clever manipulations of the geometry branch of mathematics will dot the landscape of the Lisle tree museum through Oct. 22.

"Origami in the Garden" is a traveling exhibit created by Santa Fe, New Mexico, artists Kevin and Jennifer Box. The collection includes pieces made by Kevin Box and several pieces made in collaboration with other artists, including Jennifer Box.

"I encountered Kevin and Jennifer through a conference with the American Public Gardens Association," said Anamari Dorgan, the arboretum's education director.

Impressed, she arranged for the exhibit to come to Lisle.

"It's amazing. I've never seen anything like it before," Dorgan said. "It can be a very complex art form."

"Migrating Peace" is among the installations of the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit at Morton Arboretum. All 40 pieces are within walking distance of the Lisle museum's Visitor Center.
  "Migrating Peace" is among the installations of the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit at Morton Arboretum. All 40 pieces are within walking distance of the Lisle museum's Visitor Center. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Origami also can be simple.

"If you've ever folded a paper airplane, then you've made origami," she said.

The exhibition debuted in Santa Fe in 2014 and was recently on display in Florida, she said.

The sculptures are fashioned from museum-quality metals. The pieces emphasize the connections between art and nature. And there are 40 of them, Dorgan said.

"It's actually the largest show we've ever done here," she said. "All of the sculptures will be within walking distance of the Visitor Center."

Visitors will receive a map of the installation upon arrival, she said.

"Master Peace," part of the "Origami in the Garden" art exhibit at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, features 500 cranes that reflect in the sculpture's granite base to reference the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 cranes for luck.
  "Master Peace," part of the "Origami in the Garden" art exhibit at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, features 500 cranes that reflect in the sculpture's granite base to reference the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 cranes for luck. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

The largest sculpture is about 25 feet high and is titled "Master Peace."

"It's 500 cranes, stacked up in a pyramid form, situated on a reflective granite base," she said.

The metal cranes and their reflections create the illusion of 1,000 cranes, referring to the Japanese tradition of prayerfully creating 1,000 cranes within one year to bring luck, Dorgan said.

"It's a very meditative piece."

Each sculpture was inspired by a single piece of folded paper. Dorgan said the metal was cast and shaped so that it appears paper-like. Many depict birds, horses and other animals.

"One is brand new and will be unveiled here at the Morton Arboretum," Dorgan said.

That piece, titled "Seed Sower," includes a squirrel and acorns and was inspired by the arboretum.

The exhibition is free with arboretum admission.

Eve Craft, 2, checks out a sculpture at the entrance for the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit, on display through October at Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
  Eve Craft, 2, checks out a sculpture at the entrance for the "Origami in the Garden" exhibit, on display through October at Morton Arboretum in Lisle. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

"It's a good opportunity to connect families, youth and adults with the natural world and sharpen their observational skills, and it provides contemplative opportunities," Dorgan said.

The exhibition's opening weekend will be celebrated with live Japanese drumming performances and origami demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21, Dorgan said.

The arboretum also will present related classes and events during the spring and summer, such as origami classes, Ikebana floral arranging lessons, walking tours of the arboretum's Asian tree collections, forest therapy walks, Japanese game days and a Destination Asia Festival in early August.

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