The Lotus Effect ~ a Participatory Installation About Gratitude & Transformation at The Rubin Museum of Art




The Rubin Museum of Art launched a new participatory installation, The Lotus Effect, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lotuses take root in murky waters and burst into beautiful bloom above the surface. For The Lotus Effect, the Rubin invites members of the public to fold a lotus flower and dedicate their origami creation to someone or something that has helped them overcome a challenging time. When the Rubin reopens, people can contribute their folded piece to an installation in the Museum that will serve as a community-built symbol of gratitude and powerful reminder that collectively we can emerge from difficult moments.

“The Lotus Effect uses art-making as a tool to connect people to each other in order to inspire hope and resilience, and to remind individuals that even in impossible circumstances, change and transformation can lead us to moments of beauty and bloom,” says Chief Experience Officer Jamie Lawyer. “Our society is facing critical social, economic, and health challenges, which bring up many emotions: anxiety, loneliness, sadness, grief, and frustration. We hope that as we all rise to the many challenges that lie ahead, the lotus can be a reminder that beauty can emerge from the toughest conditions.”

Countless lotuses are represented in scroll paintings (thangkas) and sculptures in the Rubin Museum’s collection. These flowers often appear in the hands of gods and goddesses, as decoration on their thrones, and as part of vivid landscapes. In Tibetan Buddhism, lotuses are important symbols associated with many meanings including awakening, transformation, and compassion.

For The Lotus Effect, Brooklyn-based origami artist and engineer Uttam Grandhi has provided video instructions to create a folded lotus. Grandhi was part of the Rubin Museum’s 2019 Block Party, where he created an AR experience inspired by artworks in the Museum’s collection. Most recently, in collaboration with researchers from MIT he founded OpenPPE in response to COVID-19, inventing an origami-based, low-cost N95+ filtration face mask that can easily be replicated anywhere in the world without advanced machinery or skills.

How to Participate
While the Rubin is closed, participants can share photographs of folded lotus creations on social media using the #TheLotusEffect and tagging @RubinMuseum

When the Museum reopens, participants can mail folded lotuses to the Museum or physically drop them off. You can also email photographs of your lotuses to to be included in a digital slideshow.

Mailing address
The Lotus Effect
Rubin Museum of Art
140 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011

The Lotus Effect: A Participatory Installation for Times of Transformation will be on view from June 18, 2020 through January 4, 2021.