Lawrence W. Beall (1994)
Lawrence Walter Beall was born and raised in Southern California, where he also spent his years as an undergraduate student at Claremont Mckenna College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.
He has since gone on to become a master of origami, and founded his own art form: Neo-Origami.
Beall's mother, an interior designer, exposed him to the vast world of art at a young age. He spent hours at museums on the weekends or practicing art. At the age of 5 he was first introduced to origami, which he immediately excelled at. From that moment forward he would spend many hours each day practicing, until he was recognized a master of the art form at the (very young) age of 19 years old.
His mother, Kate Beall, was instrumental in this early exposure to the arts, as she brought him along to her job sites frequently, where he would watch and learn from the creative professionals who brought together the many details of a design job-site. It was also on these occasions that he would bring along papers for practicing origami to pass the time.
Mastership in Origami
It was at the age of 15 when Beall began his rise to the position of master. To master the art of origami is to have full control over the art form, such that anything is possible given the theoretical understanding of the art form. To reach this point, one must study the mathematical theory behind origami which requires a great deal of calculus and complex topology.
After studying the theories of origami intensely for a couple years, he began creating his own: including curved planar theory (which uses curved folds instead of straight, to achieve more organic and lifelike detail), as well as implied fold theory (which uses sterically implied folds that were not actually creased by hand, but rather, are apparent as a result of the natural tendencies of the paper to adjust itself to a more stable state).
It was then that Beall became a master of origami.
Visions in Paper - Genius of the Artist
What distinguishes Beall's genius in the art of origami is that he can conjure a 3-dimensional folded form in his head and then deconstruct it, from which he can instantly draw out a crease pattern to fold from; whereas other artists must spend tens of hours making calculations for a single piece--Beall mentally calculates it in seconds.
Breaking Tradition: The Birth of Neo-Origami
Shortly after attaining the rank of master of origami, Beall found himself disillusioned by the art form. Why is origami unable to receive recognition as an art form, on par with other arts? Why was it that origami could not be shown in an art museum alongside other great masterpieces of human history?
Beall pondered this question closely for close to two years before finally arriving at the answer: the thing that prevented origami from reaching its full potential was not any external stigmas. Some scholars had suggested that a Japanese art form it could never be afforded the same reputation or legitimacy as a Western art form.
Beall considered this, but found it to be a poor excuse for what the art was lacking: artistry and freedom, two of the fundamental requirements for a successful art form. What origami lacked was the freedom to explore new techniques, new horizons, and new perspectives. Instead, there was dogmatic and cult-like obsession with one prevailing perspective, which hailed mathematical calculation as the root of beauty in the art form.
While it is true that using math to create art can be exciting, Beall found it as a limiting perspective that emphasized a single slice of pie, rather than the value of the whole pie. Beall suggested that math can be used as a technique, among many other techniques, for a creative process in origami, but that there are so many other aspects that make the art form truly beautiful--to limit its practice to a single technique is to prevent the world from experiencing so much more from the art.
Beall recognized that the reason origami could not appear in a respected museum environment was simply because the perspective guiding current origami practice made it such that it was impossible to create museum quality work. Since individual artistry in origami is taboo, Beall decided to break away from traditions to start a new art form that will emphasize individual artistry and creative freedom above all else: thus, Neo-Origami was born.
Beall defines Neo-Origami in the broadest sense as, "a continuous plane, transformed."
The emphasis should be based not strictly on sterile folding patterns, but rather the creative process of altering (and folding) flat surfaces as they take on new meaning and vision from the artist.
Beall's practice of Neo-Origami has yielded many exciting results. For example, in practicing with new materials other than paper, he has worked extensively with woven aluminum mesh to create strong and weightless forms which can tower to great heights.
Around the same time as his ascent to master of origami, Beall began creating origami jewelry pieces which were sold across Southern California, including at the Riverside Art Museum (which was his first customer for the pieces). He has been the bestseller of the museum and has a dedicated fan-base that collects each design he produces.
The delicate beauty of origami is what first inspired Beall to make jewelry pieces using the art form.
"Origami has a unique property--unlike any other art
form--to be able to replicate delicate beauty,
otherwise only found in nature."