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The Origami Art of Ethan Plaut

Ethan Plaut

Ethan Plaut

I did some research into Ethan Plaut, and while I didn’t come up with too much here’s some tantalizing tidbits of info. If you have more that you can tell me about Ethan, I would appreciate it! I had no luck discovering his current activities and latest work.

You can look at the 4 photos on the link above; or check out some of his photos in the book Origamido, which also features wonderful work from Robert Lang, Paul Jackson, etc.

the Origamido store also is selling a video about Ethan’s work, appropriately titled Architectural Origami Design – Building on the Equilateral Triangle: The Many Facets of Ethan R. Plaut.

I also tracked down this old collection of photos (some are the same as above) at his university.

And lastly, this interesting piece of information, pulled from a Northwestern University pamphlet from 2000:

Weinberg junior and College Scholar Ethan Plaut grabbed the attention of USA Today this year with a unique talent for origami, in which he brings together the study of the structural and the expressive. In February he became one of 20 students nationwide and the first Northwestern student to join the newspaper’s All- USA College Academic First Team.

A lifelong love of art, music, and literature came together with the study of mathematics and linguistics at Northwestern, Plaut said. “When I got to Northwestern, I began to take a lot of linguistics classes, and I realized all of the things I was interested in were [related]. It was then that I began looking at the structures associated with ways of expressing yourself.”

Plaut studies how formal systems, such as math and linguistics, can be used to create and analyze art. His combined interests led him to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. He has created works of unusual beauty in this art form, some of which have been featured in origami books and videos. He also teaches math and origami to area grade school and junior high school students and has shown and taught his work at origami conventions.

Plaut said he intended to be an economist when he entered the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Program as a sophomore. He has since decided to pursue an ad hoc major — formal systems and the arts — an interdisciplinary program integrating classes from many departments. One of Plaut’s College Scholars mentors, Robert Coen, associate dean for undergraduate studies and economics professor, recognized the student’s unique talents when he first proposed his ad hoc major.

“Ethan had been working on some mathematical theorems that related to properties of [origami] folds. Then he used the theorems in designing various pieces of origami,” said Coen. “One of these was a three-dimensional mask, which looked like the mask of Agamemnon. If you hold it up to the light, you see the intricacy of these folds and the pattern they make in the mask itself.”


  1. Johnny Sagan says

    Hi, Ethan’s my brother from another mother. I’m pleased as punch to read about him on your site–wait, I haven’t even looked at YOUR work, which I see hyperlinked on my right. Anyhow, after college Ethan made a pilgrimage to Japan with the JETS program. He had a girlfriend named Mami, which I think is funny, but more germane to your interests, he did a complicated installation with a calligrapher of his acquaintance. Then he came home to Evanston and got a journalism degree at Northwestern, only to bounce to Cambodia, where he is an editor of an English-language daily newspaper, The Cambodia Daily. He lives in the apartment once occupied by one Robert Bingham (RIP), author of the thriller LIGHTNING ON THE SUN. Bingham describes the nightly flight of the bat colony associated with the National Museum of Cambodia in the book, and that’s where Ethan lives! Ethan also raps and makes beats–his lyrics have a sensibility that you would recognize from his art–simple as paper, subtle as creases, moulded in gentle hands. His rap alias is Loud Zoo, his group is called Continuum, the album is Discontinudity. Ethan’s Dad, Dr. Eric Plaut, wrote GRAND OPERA: MIRROR OF THE WESTERN MIND, a fascinating psychoanalysis of great operas in light of the lives of the composers–as a psychiatrist, DEP is known for his work on stage-fright in musicians! If you want to write to Ethan, his email is impractical (at) (email obfuscated by administrator).

    All the best,

    Johnny Sagan

  2. Johnny Sagan says

    Oh yeah, it might interest you to know that Ethan’s been folding from an early age, like 8.


  3. Administrator says

    Now that’s what I call background!

    Editor of an english-language newspaper in Cambodia? what a trip! that’s fascinating.

    Thanks for the informative update, Johnny, I really appreciate it. I’ll have to get in touch with Ethan soon.

    • Eloine Plaut says

      A very brief update on Ethan:
      He teaches communications at the Unversity of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. His wife Danielle also teaches at the university. Recently they had a joint museum exhibit focused on privacy in the digital age. They have lived in NZ for about 4-5 years.

  4. Eloine Plaut, Ph.D says

    Ethan Plaut is my son. You may be interested to know the things that he has been doing lately. After his so Jorn in Cambodia, he returned to the US and has just recently completed his PhD in communications at Stanford University. He is teaching at Stanford for the upcoming year. He recently had an Op-Ed piece published in the online magazine Quartz, which is owned by Atlantic monthly. He married Danielle Lottridge, PhD, from Toronto Canada. They are now expecting their first child. They occasionally perform in the bay area. Danielle is a tribal belly dancer and Ethan continues his hip-hop writing and performing. About two years ago one of his poems was a winner in a poetry contest and, along with four other winners, he has a poem imprinted in the cement walkway of the Evanston library.
    He avidly follows developments in the origami art world.

    Eloine Plaut

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