Tiny, vibrant paper cranes seem to float in midair as they hang from thin pieces of string in the restored Creston Depot's art gallery. May Ling Chuong, 14, is September's Creston: Arts featured artist with her origami art.
"It's crazy. I was scared," said Chuong. "I'm, like, 14. And, I didn't actually think about doing something big with it. I just thought it was a hobby. So, when it became something big, it was really nice." Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper. The goal is to turn a flat piece of paper into a sculpture without the use of glue or cuts in the paper.
Chuong, a second-generation Chinese-American, is the daughter of Jen and Simon Chuong, owners of Chuong Garden in Creston. She has two younger sisters and one younger brother.
Chuong, an eighth-grader at Creston Middle School, got her start in origami when her cousin taught her to fold.
"I have a cousin, and he works at my parents' restaurant," said Chuong. "And, he started making things. I didn't know what it was, you know, and I thought it was really cool. I got really interested in it."
The exposition of origami art, which includes paper cranes, flowers, a 3-D cat and hanging art, will be on display until Sept. 30.
"I didn't know a lot of people were actually interested in it," said Chuong. "Being in middle school, it's kind of hard with all the different people, so I guess, like, it's nice to show people what you do. This will make people know who I am a little bit more."
Chuong's favorite things to fold are flowers. She has kusudama flowers on display, which have little folds of paper inside the petals.
She also did 3-D origami. One piece, a cat, is on display at the gallery. A 3-D piece is made by stacking folded paper into shapes and making it stay together.
"I just think, if I look in a book and I find how to make a diamond, I'll use a diamond and make something interesting with it, like hanging it up in a symmetrical way," Chuong said.
Chuong gets inspiration from nature. She folds bouquets of flowers, and sometimes adds pipe cleaners as flower stems. Chuong also folds paper cranes, or orizuru, one of the most classic shapes of origami.
"I take traditional origami, but I kind of twist it around, make it my own by hanging them up into weird kinds of designs and I like to make flower bouquets," Chuong said.
Chuong's favorite artist is Joost Langeveld, a man who folds origami shapes. She uses his art as inspiration to make her own designs, or use his ideas and make similar, yet unique creations. She also looks at Pinterest, an online photo-sharing website, for ideas and inspiration.
The process of creating origami is simple for Chuong.
"I can pretty much learn from any of them (books or internet) now because I know the steps, like, all the basic folds and stuff like that," said Chuong. "But, I learn from people teaching me, my cousins or Youtube, and especially origami books."
Chuong starts with sticky notes to fold her creations. She does simple things, then finds ways to make them more unique, such as hanging them on string.
"If you start off with the basics, it's fun. But, not too complicated," Chuong said. "I just, like, look at things. If I look outside, I could find inspiration from nature."
Chuong plans to continue folding origami, as well as expand her artistic knowledge, by taking art classes in high school and college.