Larger-than-life sculptures on view in Atlanta Botanical Garden exhibit 'Origami in the Garden'
Creating paper origami figures can be both fun and daunting. The creases must be flawless, and the design perfectly symmetrical. Now, imagine making an origami figure out of metal that stands 24 feet tall. Artist and sculptor Kevin Box has done just that for the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s new exhibition “Origami in the Garden,” on view now through Oct. 16. If enormous metal origami sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because you’ve seen Box’s installation, “Conversation Peace,” a take on “rock, paper, scissors,” on the corner of 10th and Peachtree in Midtown. “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes recently caught up with the artist via Zoom to talk about his new sculptures.
Why origami can be a metaphor for life:
“The philosophy of ‘tabula rasa’ … is known from the ideas of Aristotle, who was a Greek philosopher,” said Box. “He spoke about beginning with a blank slate, so to speak. And to me, the blank slate is an archetype of the creative challenge. It is a symbol of what we all face when making something out of nothing … Origami starts in that humble beginning. Each piece begins with a simple blank square of paper, and it’s up to our creative choices to adjust, alter and determine a creative outcome.”
How sculpture takes teamwork:
“I think sculpture is sort of a team sport. It’s not something you can really do by yourself,” Box said. “I actually started my first foundry job working at a bronze foundry and here in Atlanta at the Inferno Art Foundry, just south of town. And when I began as an apprentice there, I learned of all the different steps and all the different departments that you could get a job in, basically, helping an artist to realize a museum-quality bronze sculpture.”
He went on, “But then when it came to designing the work, and realizing that my expertise in sculptural processes and materials was very consuming, the idea that I was going to now take the time to become an origami master and learn this incredible paper-folding art, which has evolved tremendously in the last couple of decades, I thought, ‘You know, my favorite artists or musicians, they work together. Why not do the same?’ … I was delighted to be well-received and have had an incredible privilege of working with some of the best origami artists in the world.”
An epic installation process:
“We spent three years building all this, for one thing, and then we spent a number of months building crates and planning how the work would be transported on tractor-trailers. We loaded six tractor-trailers completely full, stem to stern, 53 feet long each, to bring all the work to Atlanta,” Box explained. “But the Atlanta Botanical Garden is a unique space that’s designed for pedestrian paths, really. And they hired an incredible team from Superior Rigging and Crane Company to come out … They were incredible at navigating the narrow paths with heavy equipment and large works as we maneuvered these things into place.”
“Origami in the Garden” is on view now at Atlanta Botanical Garden through Oct. 16. Tickets and more information are available at atlantabg.org/origami-in-the-garden.