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From Crafting Community to Accessible Artistry, Origami Org’s Mission is Two-Fold

From Crafting Community to Accessible Artistry, Origami Org’s Mission is Two-Fold

A group with a penchant for paper folding is proving that shared artistic experiences form strong community bonds—no tape or glue required.

Ohio Paper Folders was started in 2007 by Monica Salisbury, who had become interested in origami as a child when she would teach herself from books and experimentation. After folding mostly on her own, Salisbury said she was seeking others to work with but couldn’t find any established groups.

“For more than a year, I sat in Starbucks at Easton (in Columbus) and folded, trying to get some interest in a group,” said Salisbury, who currently serves as the organization’s president. “In May 2007, we got our first member, and that’s the day I mark as the beginning of Ohio Paper Folders.”

Since then, Ohio Paper Folders has grown to encompass more than 500 members statewide. In addition to monthly meetings where new models are taught, the group leads programs at libraries, schools, senior centers, and community events.

John Scully, vice president of Ohio Paper Folders, said origami is the perfect art form for groups and diverse audiences.

“One thing that kind of sets origami apart from any other art form you can think of is I can sit down with you, and in five, 10, 15 minutes, I can teach you your first model. And, after you’ve practiced it a few times, you could go teach it to someone else,” he said. “Can you think of any other art form where that is true?”

Paper folding is often thought of as a solitary hobby, but Ohio Paper Folders challenges that assumption through its annual CenterFold Origami Convention, which brings attendees from around the world to Ohio for several days of collaboration, artistic instruction, and networking.

“CenterFold has become an international draw, bringing attendees from India, Columbia, Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Singapore to name a few,” Salisbury said. “We’re so pleased to be able to enrich the experience for everyone.”

This year, the convention will be held in Dublin, Ohio, Aug. 9-12. Over the course of three days, participants will learn from guest artists, including Shuki Kato, an origami designer from Montana, Richard Alexander and Michael LaFosse from Origamido Studio in Massachusetts, and Maria Sinayskaya, an artist from South Africa who is known for her modular folded pieces. Throughout the weekend, Ohio Paper Folders will offer workshops ranging from beginner basics to advanced models, which Scully said show the complexity of the art form.

“There’s this tremendous range of skill level. It is something that virtually anyone can do,” he said. “But I am not implying that it’s easy. It’s just that there’s such a huge range. There are pieces that take two or three minutes to fold and there are pieces that have literally thousands of folds that take a master folder 20 or 30 hours to do.”

The group’s community involvement extends beyond the annual conference. It recently launched the children’s hospital origami program, which aims to distribute origami books and materials to young patients.

“We are self-publishing four origami books and we are going to be providing 100 books and 100 packages of paper to every children’s hospital in the U.S., of which we’ve got 206 on our list right now,” Scully said. “The idea is that a patient can have a book to keep. It’s not that you use it in the activity room or get it off the art cart and then put it back. It’s yours.”

Workshops and other outreach initiatives throughout the year are offered free of charge in an effort to introduce interested artists of all skills levels to a welcoming community.

“We want to be accessible to everyone. I didn’t want some kid hearing from their parents, ‘Oh, you can’t do that because we can’t afford it,’” Salisbury said. “The money we are awarded by the Ohio Arts Council allows us to continue providing programs to those who can’t afford programs.”

In addition to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) Arts Access grant it received for state fiscal year 2018, Ohio Paper Folders also accepts donations and community funding. The goal is to have the resources necessary to support a wide-reaching network united by a love of art. 

“We are ensuring the life and development of origami by providing information and being a point, a source, for contact both inside and outside the origami community,” Salisbury said. “Because of Ohio Paper Folders, artists are able to find one another and build relationships, which foster their creative expression.”

To learn more about Ohio Paper Folders, visit ohiopaperfolders.com.

More information about OAC grant programs is available at oac.ohio.gov/grants.


ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist



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