Artist Chun Hui Pak studies the lines left when an origami sculpture is unfolded to its original sheet and renders the patterns that emerge in bright trompe l'oeil oil paintings.
Her enormous work, Year of the Rooster, features three origami roosters: one facing left, another facing right, and a third appearing as a sheet of paper criss-crossed by creases, which maps its destined path from flat paper to crowing bird.
The installation is on view at the Main Street Marquee in Downtown Houston until December 2017.
Chun Hui Pak shares more on the fun and lively nature of her work.
Q: How did you come up with Year of the Rooster, and how do you use origami in your work?
Chun Hui Pak: I'm working with origami folds that I open up into diagrams as the basis of my inspiration and series of works of art. I'm doing lots of experimentation and having fun. I submitted about five different ideas with a rooster and different color experiments for this installation.
A number of my previous paintings consisted of pool-colored iris flowers, and the Weingarten Art Group liked the pool color idea and the rooster idea, so I ended up combing them both. I came up with Year of the Rooster 2, polka dot version.
Q: What does Year of the Rooster symbolize?
Chun Hui Pak: In Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animal signs. Each year is represented by one of those animals. The animal's characteristics are connected to the year a person is born, and 2017 is the year of the rooster. People born under this sign are supposed to be very intelligent, honest and very outgoing. In Asian philosophy, there are always opposites, called yin and yang, so the contrasting attributes of this zodiac include being critical, impulsive, and outspoken.
I worked from a rooster painting I had done in red and modified it with the iris flower paintings that were polka dotted. It's a bright, eye-catching idea, and I thought children may be entertained by the image. The rooster facing left is welcoming tradition, heralding the new year; the one at the bottom facing right is saying goodbye to the year. So that's the symbolism.
Usually, I paint the diagram based on those open folds. Sometimes I multiply the image, sometimes I use a single image, depending on how interesting the folds are.
Q: What do you hope people will take away when they walk by and see it?
Chun Hui Pak: I hope they are entertained by the notion of polka dots representing a bird shape. You never know where inspiration can come from, so be receptive of it. Go with it, and see where it leads you. It takes a number of thinking processes and experimentation. Also, the origami fold is an incredible learning tool for children. It introduces intuitive knowledge about geometry, proportions and ratio. They come to the knowledge without even thinking about it. But for me, it's also an incredible opportunity to experiment with different folds and play with the diagrams. I hope people look at that and are inspired to do more origami.
Q: Any last thoughts you want to share?
Chun Hui Pak: There is an incredible PBS program called Origami Revolution. Artists create amazing artworks based on that idea. And NASA engineers and scientists are using the concept of folds on a small scale that open to the large scale as a tool to experiment, adapted by the space programs. Even in medicine, the idea is incredibly pertinent to adaptation and experimentation.
I hope people walking by pay attention to it, get inspired by it, and have fun with it.