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Creatures of the Sea Adorn Holiday Tree

by Brea Aamoth on December 10th, 2015

Origami on Display at ‘Imiloa

Creatures of the Sea Adorn Holiday Tree

It takes a village to create an origami holiday tree—a village of folders from around the world! This week the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center unveils a unique holiday tree in its atrium, decorated with nearly 100 paper models folded by origami artists from several continents. The theme of the installation is “Creatures of the Sea” with a 7.5’ lighted tree serving as a backdrop for colorful paper schools of fish, sea mammals, seaweed, and even a surfer on surfboard riding a curling wave.

The origami models include yellow tangs, mahimahi, and mempachi; angel-, angler-, box-, damsel-, and butterfly-fish; marlin, sharks and barracudas; sea horses, sea snails and crabs; moray eels, manta rays, a coelacanth, and an octopus family; a humpback whale and her calf; and even Hawaiʻi’s state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa.

Folding was done across the mainland U.S., Europe, and South America, as well as here in Hawaiʻi, and artists included some of the leaders of the modern origami movement, including Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander of Origamido in Massachustts, and Sok Song of New York City.

The Kusudama star on the top of the tree was folded locally for ‘Imiloa by Dr. Julien Lozi, Senior Optical Scientist at Subaru Telescope, from a pattern designed by Ekaterina Lukasheva. Dr. Lozi’s work was displayed at ‘Imiloa earlier this year as part of the highly acclaimed “Epic Origami” exhibit organized by Waimea-based artist Bonnie Cherni.

“Exploring the intersections of paperfolding and science has been an exciting new programming arena here at ‘Imiloa, and we are happy that our origami holiday tree will continue this theme and give the community another reason to come in and visit,” says Kaʻiu Kimura, ‘Imiloa’s Executive Director.

Most of the origami models on the ‘Imiloa tree were previously displayed on a holiday tree at the Japan Airlines check-in counter at Kona International Airport in 2009. That project was organized by a longtime JAL staff member with close connections to Origami USA, the educational and cultural arts organization which has created an attention-getting origami holiday tree at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for over 40 years. At his invitation, origami artists folded and donated models for the JAL tree under the theme of “The Sea Around Us” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hawaiʻi statehood.

‘Imiloa’s origami tree will be on display into January in the center’s atrium at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information, go to, or call (808) 969-9703.




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