Do you remember that feeling of being five years old and your mom told you to go play so you’re running around in the backyard and to the adults drinking brandy in the kitchen it just looks like What is that kid DOING?, but in your world you’re hunting dragons and wresting jungle cats and having tea with a T-Rex?
Or that time in high school you dropped acid and saw some of the coolest shit you’ve ever seen?
Well combine those two and it might come close to the feeling of walking into World of Hennagami, the ethereal dreamscape of Oakland artists Kyle Kim, Kali Snowden and JJ Fryzel. Over a hundred origami creatures inhabit this world, from the seafloor to the cloud kingdom, and don’t worry if you accidentally leave your magic mushrooms at home, the entire experience is enhanced by blacklights and 3D glasses and you’re lost in your imagination, in the most delightful way.
My favorite piece was a suspended installation called The Hanging Forest, where butterflies and dragonflies and all manner of mystical winged creatures dangle above your head, swaying gently; don your 3D glasses and you’re 3 inches tall, winged yourself and soaring through the rainforest canopy, glowing blue and pink and orange, Avatar on 3rd Street.
Wander from the forest down to the seashore and you’ll meet the entire spectrum of sea-dwelling creatures, from crustaceans and crawlies on the ocean floor, sharks and dolphins frolicking in the waves, to dodos on the cliffs and dragons in the mist. But what makes the creatures really unique is the intricate paper design that preludes Kim’s origami folding. For some of the larger pieces, Snowden hand-paints the paper with henna-inspired designs, invoking reptilian scales or the color-play of a peacock’s tail, giving the pieces an exotic and sensual character. And in the dinosaur kingdom, Fryzel spray-paints the paper with graphic patterns that are especially vivid in 3D, giving them a fun, street-culture feel.
Then if you wanted to get all intellectual and were wearing a black turtleneck sweater you could marvel at how the blending of ancient art-forms of Japanese origami folding, Indian mehendi painting and NY subway-inspired graffiti are coming together to create something entirely new and modern. Or you could just geek out and play with the animals, and leave with a pair of iridescent Pegasus earrings, which is what I did. Absolutely worth the trip to West Oakland.