Julia Kolberg-Zettel


Entfaltung is a project about my own self identity. Through it, I examine how I came to be the creative person I am today. The project looks at the relationship between my Oma and I, and the ways she encouraged me to express my creativity through crafting. Ultimately, I want to show that even though my Oma isn’t here with us anymore, she is still in everything that I create.

My Oma lived in Berlin, Germany while my family and I were living in Canada. Fortunately, I did get the opportunity to visit her around four times a year, spending up to three weeks with her each time. While visiting, my family would stay with my grandparents, and my Oma and I would be with each other almost 24/7. Despite living 6,529 kilometres apart, our bond was strong. In 2008, when I was nine years old, my Oma passed away from cancer, but I still feel our connection through my creative process.

This project is called Entfaltung because it is the German word for the act of unfolding, as well as the word used to describe a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. This is relevant to the project because my Oma was the one who brought me out of my cocoon, and let me be whatever I wanted to be. Origami was one craft that my Oma taught me that has stuck with me my entire life. Origami is a combination of mathematical structure and artistic expression. The art of origami stands for discipline, order, patience, perseverance, calm and reflection. It also creates an important learning experience; through it, the students learn valuable lessons from the teacher, and vice versa.

It is special to me because every time I fold a crane, I think of my Oma guiding my hands to make the correct folds. My process begins with reprinting images from my family archive onto paper that will then be folded into various origami forms. The images are then sectioned into different quadrants of the paper. Once the origami is folded, the images on the quadrants combine in order to form a full image. But when unfolded, the image is fractured into different shapes, creating fragmented images of my Oma and I. The images are family snapshots from where I was born and through my upbringing. The unfolded paper is then photographed on different domestic textures, such as bed sheets, blankets and tablecloths. These textures resemble the areas in which my Oma taught me these crafts, and made art feel like home.

The creased, yet unfolded state of the origami allowed the viewers to see the steps that were taken during its creation, without seeing the final folded product. The origami allows for pulling things apart, to put them back together; therefore, putting my Oma physically back into my creative space. The origami acts as a metaphor for a personal view of my self identity, and how my Oma has embedded her essence into each step I have taken to become the creative person I am today.