Stacie Tamaki’s tiny origami installation makes a big impression at ArtPrize 2016


By Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood

img_0273While many artists like to go big with their ArtPrize entries, Stacie Tamaki strives to work as small as possible.

In preparation for the international art competition that features 1,453 works displayed at 170 venues in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Tamaki, 51, has spent countless hours folding 1 1/2-inch paper into tiny origami rabbits, cranes, and frogs measuring just 3/4″ high for her “Tinygami,” three-mobile exhibit reflecting Japanese culture.

The origami installation celebrates a Japanese children’s fable called “The Moon Rabbit,” bonsai tradition and the belief that frogs bring wealth.

“Rather than seeing a man in the moon, in Japan they see rabbits in the moon,” said the Greenville artist, explaining how some interpret rabbit-shaped dark patches on the moon’s surface at night.

img_0272Tamaki started creating tiny origami after helping with a 1,000-crane wedding installation created by folding much larger pieces of paper.

“I just thought, ‘how small would you have to fold them to put it in a display case?'” Tamaki said, recalling the question that inspired her to create 1,000-piece mobiles that can be displayed long-term without getting dusty or taking up a lot of space.

Her three-mobile installation is a work in progress that she will be adding 450 more “tinygami” pieces to throughout the week as she greets ArtPrize goers who visit the Grand Central Market & Deli venue at 57 Monroe Center NW. Tamaki’s work can be viewed from the street, but the work is best examined up close.img_0285

When she’s finished, Tamaki’s installation will include 1,000 tiny paper rabbits strung together and hanging vertically from a paper moon, 1,000 paper cranes dangling below a paper bonsai tree and another 1,000 paper frogs strung below the paper depiction of a pond of lily pads and flowers.

The installation has required hours of precise paper cutting prep and then several minutes to fold each individual piece. Once the folding is done, Tamaki combines the pieces into an impressive display.

Shortly after ArtPrize began, Tamaki folded a tiny frog to demonstrate the process for a curious group of women who stopped to photograph her work. img_0304

“Last year for ArtPrize was the first time it ever occurred to me to try make them even smaller,” said the artist who is participating in the competition for the third year in a row. “So now –  I have not perfected it –  but I have like a 50 percent success rate of folding a quarter inch high crane out of a half inch square of paper…It’s tedious.”

Watch Jennifer’s mini interview with Tamaki below.

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