“Taxigami”: the Kzoo man creates a new art form for ArtPrize 2021

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A new kind of art is on display in Grand Rapids as part of ArtPrize 2021, something the artist calls “taxigami.”

Taxigami is not an official art form but rather something that Aerick Burton of Kalamazoo created himself.

“Basically, taxigami is a fusion between taxidermy and origami,” Burton said. “He also uses a lot of paper sculpture and floral accents. For me, it’s about honoring and paying homage to different animal species.

Burton created a three-dimensional installation of 10 pieces featuring vulnerable animals.

The first piece he started working on was the Sumatran elephant.

“Elephants have always been an animal that I’ve really attracted and loved … there are quite a few species that are in danger of being almost eradicated,” Burton said, adding that he doesn’t think the people should have contact with these animals in particular. animals.

Burton pointed out that even sanctuaries – in an effort to protect elephants – can take harmful measures, including letting people ride them.

“From the outside to the inside, it doesn’t seem as harmful, but in many cases conservation would let animals live in their environment without our interaction,” he said.

Trophy hunting is still permitted in many parts of Africa, with hunters paying thousands of dollars to help kill an elephant and put its head on their wall. Burton hopes his paper elephant head will make people think about this reality for wildlife that is often endangered.

“I really hope I can not only raise awareness with these pieces, but really make an impact and a tangible contribution to protecting vulnerable lives,” said Burton.

Products with his designs to support Black Lives Matter are available by scanning this QR code.

Trying to protect vulnerable lives is nothing new to Burton. He has spent a lot of time working for social justice as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in Kalamazoo, using his designs on stickers, T-shirts and other clothing.

“I think everything is connected. I think we, as humans, certainly humans for that matter, feel that we are above everything and that everything has been put here for our consumption. I think we should all just live together, ”he said. “We can really grow and learn from a lot of things that we see and experience. “

Burton sees the gentle strength of elephants as one way to achieve this.

“I see the power of voice and organization, bringing people together,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been able to use it in so many ways, but my preference is… through art.”

Burton also entered the 2018 ArtPrize competition, with a 3d part featuring a four foot tall bonsai tree, continuously wrapped in wire to create a textured trunk, with hundreds of origami butterflies filling the branches.

He was disappointed that the competition was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic but has spent the last two years working on these 10 pieces.

His ArtPrize entrance is on display at Oh, Hello Paper & Gifts at 40, avenue Monroe Center NO.

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