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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.”


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