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Book review: "New Expressions in Origami Art" by Meher McArthur

Masterworks from 25 Leading Paper Artists


A stunning cover for a book presenting stunning origami work

Usually, in an origami book review, I'd focus on how many models are presented, what complexity they are, and crucially the quality of the diagrams included. Not for this book. It is not about teaching you how to fold models. Oh no, "New Expressions in Origami Art" by Meher McArthur is about bathing in the joy of viewing works of origami art and getting more insight into what motivates and inspires their creators and their origami journey.

And you get plenty of that on the 192 pages that constitute this book. Even when just leafing through the book, it becomes clear a very diverse selection of artists was chosen. Correspondingly, the articles have very different focus points, which makes this book all the more inspiring. Getting a glimpse of the inner workings of individuals with fundamentally different backgrounds and views on the world allows you to view the world, even if just a little, in their shoes and thus opens up a whole new horizon. And all that is paired with extraordinary origami work, presented in very high quality. The full-page photos let you appreciate the art without distraction. And the background given on the artists and the techniques they use multiplies the impact of their work tenfold.

Artists presented

After my enthusiastic introduction, I'm sure you're all curious who is highlighted in the book. As the cover already reveals, 25 origami artists were selected. They are:

  • Joel Cooper (USA)
  • Erik Demaine and Martin Demaine (Canada/USA)
  • Giang Dinh (Vietnam/USA)
  • Vincent Floderer (France)
  • Tomoko Fuse (Japan)
  • Miri Golan (Israel)
  • Paul Jackson (UK/Israel)
  • Beth Johnson (USA)
  • Eric Joisel (France)
  • Goran Konjevod (Croatia/USA)
  • Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander (USA)
  • Robert J. Lang (USA)
  • Sipho Mabona (South Africa/Switzerland)
  • Mademoiselle Maurice (France)
  • Linda Tomoko Mihara (USA)
  • Jun Mitani (Japan)
  • Jeannine Mosely (USA)
  • Yuko Nishimura (Japan)
  • Bernie Peyton (USA)
  • Hoang Tien Quyet (Vietnam)
  • Matt Shlian (USA)
  • Richard Sweeney (UK)
  • Jiangmei Wu (China/USA)

This list already gives you an insight into how much diversity you can expect. Even if you just look at the first three chapters, it's so evident. Joel Cooper, the master tessellator and creator of the most striking masks using tessellation techniques; Erik and Martin Demaine, whose scientific findings have pushed the boundaries of origami, while at the same time producing breathtaking curved crease sculptures; and Giang Dinh, who I'd say doesn't crease paper, but helps it reveal its soul with his often soft and minimalistic shaping using wet-folding.

Some of these artists I've had the privilege to meet in person and talk to, so I had some prior insight into their journey. I still learned more about them here, or appreciated revisiting their development and take on things. Other artists I had already read about, and this gave me a fuller picture of them and their work. But – and I may be admitting to some ignorance here - I did not know all of these artists. Some of the names I'd actually never heard of before. Especially these artists were a pleasant surprise to me. For example, I had not been aware of Mademoiselle Maurice and her breathtaking origami murals, which she has created all around the world. By the way, I encourage you to visit her website, mademoisellemaurice.com if you have not seen her work before. So this book is not just a treasured collection of work by origamists I love and appreciate, it is also an invitation to letting more artists join that group.

Who is this book for?

It doesn't matter at which level you fold. This book is for anyone who loves origami, looking at beautiful folds and learning a bit more about the creation process. More generally, actually, I think it's a wonderful book for anyone who appreciates art. You do not have to fold paper to enjoy viewing and learning more about a selection of extraordinary origami works and their creators. So to me it also makes a perfect present for people close to you to show them the potential of origami and its not always recognized place in art.

You can buy this book directly from Tuttle or at OrigamiUSA's TheSource, retailing at $29.95.

Sara Adams