NEW BRITAIN - Through origami, Connecticut-based artist, Ben Parker is able to make something two-dimensional into something three-dimensional.
In learning origami, he also got into laser cutting, 3D printing and computer-aided design - three areas with which he had no prior experience.
Just as he shapes and folds the paper into new life, the paper does the same right back - helping him get a job at Electric Boat as a CAD designer.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Parker transferred to Central Connecticut State University to finish a French degree. Since he was 6 years old, he said, he has been folding paper, but in college his interest really began to consume his life.
During a four-month study-abroad trip to France, Parker used his time to develop and focus more on his craft and specific style - mathematical origami.
“No matter how much I folded the paper crane or other animals or things, I’d always gravitate to geometric forms,” Parker said.
An origami group on the photo-sharing website Flickr is what he credits to fueling his passion for the art form.
“I saw some of the stuff they were doing, and it was just really cool, so I thought ‘All right, I’m gonna figure out some of this,’ and I did,” Parker said.
Most of his work is folded from a grid he measures himself. They are as “mathematically precise as I can get them to follow a particular progression.”
He’ll start with a sheet of blank paper, cut it into a hexagonal shape and fold the grid lines into it. Depending on how dense the grid is going to be, this can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
From there, he’ll make a series of pleats by twisting the paper.
“If I have an idea in mind it can be four or five hours [to complete a project], but I’ll be working on a dozen projects at once,” Parker said. “I’ll take a piece, put it aside, and work on the other one.”
He said the longest he has ever spent on one project took over 40 hours on a 90-foot sheet of paper - but not all in one sitting.
To avoid getting burned out or bored, Parker tends to take a lot of breaks.
“Every now and then, I do take a day and say I’m not going to touch a single sheet of paper with the intent of folding it at all,” he said.
Parker will have an exhibition focused on pleats on display at the Stockman Gallery in New Britain beginning on Aug. 7 and a reception Wednesday, Aug. 23.
“There’s an interesting challenge that I found with my work as opposed to others. Most artists have issues or challenges with trying to do something that is unique … and try to put themselves apart from the crowd,” Parker said. “My issues are explaining what it is.”
Parker is drawn to the complexity and mathematics of his paper folding but still caters to people who want to see something visual in art and to whom it still can be easily explained.
The “Ben Parker: Pleats” reception will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. at the Stockman Gallery, 19 Chestnut St. The exhibition will be on display from Aug. 7 through Sept. 16. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information contact Stephen Hard at 860-832-8299.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org