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"Origami" highlights Grand Rapids community

Kumi Yamashita briefly explains the process behind her ArtPrize entry, "Origami."
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New York-based artist Kumi Yamashita has made quite an impression on Grand Rapids this year with her installation, “Origami.” On display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), “Origami” consists of 99 individual pieces of origami paper, each measuring nine inches square. Each piece is delicately folded and creased so that it will, when combined with an external light shining on it, produce a shadow of a person’s profile. Yamashita made the piece unique to ArtPrize and Grand Rapids by having each profile belong to a Grand Rapids citizen.

“The scale of this piece was not only dictated by the size of the wall and room, but by the desire to include as many diverse individuals from a community as possible- a microcosm,” Yamashita says, commenting on the evolution of the piece. “I spent a week in GR back in August to visit the museum and photograph GR residents. On the day I left I had 99 photos of people’s profiles- I used everyone for my piece.”

“Origami” demonstrates an intricate understanding of the relationship between light and shadow, and showcases a level of skill Yamashita has spent more than 20 years cultivating.

“I was always interested in capturing light and shadow in 2D works and I guess it grew out of that,” Yamashita explains.

Although many of Yamashita’s past works involving light and shadow have been shaped from more three-dimensional materials like block letters, numbers and shapes, the sheer scale of this piece required individual materials that could be molded into small, separate components.

Yamashita says participating in ArtPrize has been a rewarding experience overall, and has enjoyed the opportunity to share her work with such a large audience.

“Being able to show your work at the beautiful GRAM was very exciting, as is the chance to share your work with an audience of almost 200 [thousand] people,”says Yamashita.
She says the experience has been “strange and wonderful. Exhausting and fulfilling.”

“Origami” is one of the pieces in the Top 10 for the public vote. It can be found on the second floor at the GRAM.

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