Origami by Bernie Peyton

Wildlife biologist Bernie Peyton has been working with origami for more than 50 years, almost as long as he’s been interested in conservation. Peyton, who has a doctorate in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, wants to enliven environmental issues for the masses, and origami, he says, appeals to people of all ages.

“I write a lot of boring [academic] articles nobody reads, but conservation also has to appeal to the emotional side,” Peyton says in an interview with Wired magazine. “That’s why I do art.”

He chose origami because its fragility complements “the ephemeral nature of our world,” he said. Plus, he uses his experience as a field biologist to inform how he molds paper into cacti, bears, kangaroo rats, snakes and polar bears, all of which he’s spent considerable time with.

“I don’t fold anything I don’t have a personal experience with,” he said.

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For a terrific intro to Bernie’s art see here http://berniepeyton.com/science-and-art/

“Most origami folders today would not make origami art that uses glue, support materials, coatings or cuts made in the paper. Some extremists would only use one square sheet of paper.

In my view these definitions are focused on what is origami, but not on what is art. If origami designers are truly concerned with making art pieces, they will be criticized under the criteria that all artists share, regardless of media. Questions such as “why folding, why paper, why not sculpt it in wood, why that size and color?”…etc. become relevant when making art. If the artistic intent is improved by cuts, glue, round shaped paper, etc., then it is justified. Whether it is origami or not becomes less relevant to the success of an artistic expression. I like to push the limits of what origami can express by sometimes coating paper with paint, casting resin in paper or plastic molds, or mixing folded paper parts with wood and wire. These decisions are driven by the image I want to make and its permanence, not the pleasure of origami purists. So far I have not made cuts in paper, but if I did, there would be a reason for doing it. I reference all techniques and materials in the description for each piece.”

- Bernie Peyton

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