Origami extravaganza

The Kathy Kroll Dance and Paper Theatre Company demonstrates the technique of origami through their performance on the Quad. (Nicole Maselli ‘14)
The Kathy Kroll Dance and Paper Theatre Company demonstrates the technique of origami through their performance on the Quad. (Nicole Maselli ‘14)

Lafayette’s interdisciplinary emphasis has been seen ranging from national television broadcasts by film and government and law majors in Farinon to interim trips to sub-Saharan Africa, studying religion and language. On Monday, we saw another unexpected combination of fields: science, technology, engineering, math and art.

Lafayette hosted the Origami Extravaganza Kickoff, an event created to bring the community together and promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math).

“If there’s not art in the middle of science, engineering, technology, and math, it goes nowhere,” STEAM coordinator and English Professor Suzanne Westfall said. Origami (“ori” meaning “folding” in Japanese, and “kami” meaning “paper”) became popular Japan in the seventeenth century. While origami is considered an art form, many are surprised to learn about its foundation of math.

The quad was not exactly overflowing with curious and eager students desperate to catch a glance of the kickoff. However, the performance of the Kathy Kroll Dance and Paper Theater certainly intrigued students as they walked in and out of Farinon for lunch. Kathy and her dancers performed three numbers while simultaneously folding large sheets of plasticized paper into origami shapes. Each dance incorporated the art and technique of origami in a different way. Though the company’s dancing was amateur, its purpose came across – scientific and mathematical elements of origami would be nothing without the beauty of the final result.


Also popular at the Extravaganza was Hiro Okamoto, a blind origami master who was proud to demonstrate and teach some of his intricate folds. His display was incredible, particularly because Okamoto prefers to fold with unconventional materials such as the tops of plastic sushi takeout containers and metro cards.

In addition, many students may have recognized the Origami Oru Kayak demonstration from the Crease, Fold & Bend exhibit at the Williams Center Gallery. This completely functional origami kayak has been engineered to fold easily into a compact case, light enough to carry around. Such innovation exhibits the true connection amongst each component of STEAM.

“The origami event translated as showing the necessity of creativity and art in engineering marketable products,” Anastasia Gayol Cintron ‘17 said.

The efforts to put the “A” in STEAM will be continued throughout the semester, through various events, including a presentation by origami artist Robert J. Lang.

Ultimately, each aspect of life requires art in order to create an attraction, for that initial pull is what leads to success.