Starting Saturday, 100 local and regional artists will be exhibiting their work at the sixth annual Lincoln Arts Festival at SouthPointe Pavilions, 27th Street and Pine Lake Road.

In addition to fine art, the festival will also include live music, demonstrations and prize drawings.

Today we profile one of the 100 festival participants, a new Lincoln resident who creates traditional landscapes in a rather unconventional way:

  Linda Stephen knows plenty of other origami artists. She’s certainly not the first.

Nor is she the first landscape artists. There’s plenty of those around, too.

Stephen, however, might be the first and only artist to combine those two disciplines.

“I haven’t met or found anyone who’s doing anything like this, at least,” she said, showing off work in her basement home studio. “I don’t even have a name for it yet. I’ve just been calling it ‘origami art landscape.’”

“Origami Art Landscape” art is just what it sounds like — landscapes created with origami, the Japanese art of folding paper.

Generally, origami brings to mind 3-D paper sculptures of animals, flowers or vases. However, Stephen works in two dimensions, using the same principles of paper sculpture to create shapes for her picturesque scenes.

“It’s kind of like when people do paintings out of quilts or fabric,” she said. “Its the same idea, I just use paper.”

Basically, when Stephen formulates a design, she begins creating the necessary elements of her landscape with square and rectangle sheets of paper. The papers come in all thicknesses, textures and colors, and it’s up to Stephen to fold that paper into the shape she needs.

Sometimes that gets a little complicated, especially when she needs something irregular, like a human leg, a hammer, or tree branches. In those situations, Stephen gets creative, and will often tinker with a basic origami design until she finds the right folds, whether deliberately or by accident.

“A lot of people wouldn’t know that (shapes) are all one piece of paper, but it’s my personal challenge,” she said.

Stephen also takes into account the significance and tradition of the paper she uses. The designs and colors reflect traditional Japanese kimonos, and every element has an intended meaning. Sometimes, Stephen will even include an explanation of her papers with a piece of art.

In fact, Stephen is well-versed in Japanese culture and tradition. A native of Michigan, she earned a scholarship from the state to study in Japan in 1990, which she accepted after graduating from Northern Michigan University and the University of Missouri-Columbia. She spent six years in the country, becoming fluent in Japanese and earning her second-degree blackbelt in shorinji kempo, a self-defense martial art.

Oddly enough, though she was introduced to origami in high school, she never bothered with it much while in Japan.

She moved to New York in 1999, and there, she began to explore origami landscape art when a local park asked for artistic renditions of the scenery.

Stephen combined the origami art she knew with the landscape format and discovered a form of art she loved.

Since then, Stephen has experimented and practiced her craft. She and her husband, Masaya Honda, started Sol Cards, an origami card business in 2003, which also produces earrings, sculpture and t-shirts.

In addition, Stephen has been featured in almost a dozen galleries and festivals in New York. Now, after moving to Lincoln in May 2005, she’s looking to introduce her work to Lincoln.

She’s shown and sold her work at the Haymarket Farmers Market as a start, but this February, she’ll open a show at the Noyes Art Gallery.

And of course, she’ll appear at the Lincoln Arts Festival this weekend, even giving a demonstration on beginner origami.

Stephen’s work sells anywhere from $20 for small scenes to $300 for full-blown landscapes. She also sells earrings and t-shirts for about $20.

As for why she’s stuck with this unique art form she created, Stephen said she appreciates the beauty and simplicity of the craft. Even in a complex landscape, every piece has a meaning and effort in it.

“That’s the attraction for me,” she said. “There’s beauty in every little object. One flower displayed the right way can be beautiful all on its own.”

Reach Joel Gehringer at 473-7254 or jgehringer@journalstar.com.

Lincoln Arts Festival Schedule

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. next Sunday.

Saturday

Performances:

11 a.m. — Baby Needs Shoes

1 p.m. — Mac McCune and the Mac 5 Combo

3 p.m.  — Lightning Bugs

Demonstrations:

Noon — John Gaps III, “Bringing 3-D Effects to Your Photographs”

2 p.m. — Catherine Griesen, “Paper Arts in Book Making”

4 p.m. Linda Stephen, “Origami Projects for beginners”

Sept. 24

Performances:

11 a.m. — Toasted Ponies

1 p.m. — Stefan Gaspar and the Jazz Factory

3 p.m. — No Better Cause

Demonstrations:

10 a.m.—  Amber Coulter, “Jewelry”

Noon — Keith Anderson, “Homemade Paper”

2 p.m. — Linda Stych, “Watercolor Techniques”

All festival events are free. For more information, call 434-2827 or email lacdirector@artscene.org.

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