Story of origami told through sculpture at Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – As if the flowers and budding trees weren’t enough, the Missouri Botanical Garden is ready to wow visitors with more beauty. Delayed by a year in its visit to Saint Louis due to the pandemic, OrigamiintheGarden’s large-scale sculptures take the ancient Japanese art form to new heights.

The exhibition first opened at the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens in 2014 and has been traveling across country ever since.

“The gardens are an incredible backdrop. These are great outdoor museums and there aren’t very many places that can mount an exhibition of sculpture at this scale,” artist Kevin Box said.

The sculptures are the work of artists Kevin and Jennifer Box. They tell the story of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, and were created in collaboration with world-renowned origami artists.  

“Every single piece in the garden started with a very simple, uncut piece of paper. And the humility of paper, the humble starting place of all these pieces is real. But bringing them into sculpture certainly takes a long process,” Kevin said.

Made of bronze and other metas, not paper, the sculptures are made specifically for display in garden settings.

“The artists feel very strongly that they want their pieces in a natural setting and they were instrumental in the placement of all the pieces to make sure they play in with all the plants in the best possible way,” Chelsea Bowerman, the Garden’s Senior Events Coordinator, said.

The exhibition of 18 large-scale sculptures includes painted ponies, emerging butterflies, and a tower that creates the illusion of 1,000 stainless steel origami peace cranes. The artists hope viewing the sculptures allows visitors to break away from the stress of the last year.

“Hopefully, they’ll forget about COVID a little bit while they are here. I want them to have time for joy, contemplation, experience of something different, especially during this springtime,” artist Jennifer Box said.

OrigamiintheGarden opens April 17, 2021 and will run through October 10. Advanced reservations are encouraged as capacity is still being limited. You can make those and learn more about the exhibition at MOBOT.org.

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