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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Origami out of metal

Sharon Roberts

When we think of origami, we think about paper folded into artistic shapes. But Gary Barton and Wayne Edmonds decided to fold metal instead to enter the 2021 Battle Creek Origami Sculpture Exhibit.

Eight artists were chosen to show their origami sculptures throughout Battle Creek beginning October 15th. The public is invited to vote on their favorite pieces. The city’s Small Business Development Office will purchase the winning piece for permanent display.

A conversation with Gary Barton and Wayne Edmonds

Barton and Edmonds were already connected through family but working on the project together developed new and deeper bonds.

“I’ve always looked at Gary’s work and liked it,” Edmonds says. “I’m glad he asked me to do this. That way I get to be an artist, too!”

Credit Sharon Roberts
Sharon Roberts
Wayne Edmonds and Gary Barton

“I’ve always viewed Wayne as an artist because of the projects and things he builds around his home,” Barton countered. “He’s also published a children’s book, so art can be a lot of things.”

Barton is an artist-designer who works as a marketing manager for Western Michigan University's Office of Information Technology. He spends most of his time working as a visual communicator with digital media. When time allows, he draws, paints, and does large-scale chalk drawings.

Edmonds retired from Target as a maintenance mechanic in October 2019. He has tried his hand as a creative writer, woodworker, problem solver, and ice hockey goalie. His children's book, Mi Gato, the story of a lost kitty, was published in 2010.

The two decided to create 紙の家族 (Kami no Kazoku, or "paper family" in Japanese) for the 2021 Battle Creek Origami Sculpture Exhibit with a nod to Barton’s daughter Lily, and Edmond’s partner Sharon, who collects frogs. The statue will be three-feet-by-five and occupy an eight-foot-wide space. It features metal origami lily pads and frogs with a single lily hanging off the base.

“The city wants to encourage people who may not be familiar with art or people who enjoy art to get out, to get involved in downtown, to walk through this year-long exhibit,” Barton says. “They may use this as a jumping point to highlight some of the art and sculpture already throughout Battle Creek.

Barton says their piece embodies learning at all stages of life and the strength of relationships between family and friends by shaping metal to emulate folded paper.

The origami sculptures represent an important part of Battle Creek’s historical connection with Japan and its sister city, Takasaki. That relationship began in 1984 as a student exchange program.

The exhibit is being funded through a $9,500 grant from the Battle Creek Community Foundation, and $4,000 from the Small Business Development Organization.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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