Thursday, October 1, 2009

Illustration Friday - Pattern or the PUT UP A CRANE Peace Project

hand decorated paper origami crane
This is the first week since I started the self-imposed Illustration Friday assignments that I almost missed participating.  I feel like I have a very good excuse for being so late this week.  Besides grades being due for the 1st six weeks of school, I have initiated a somewhat ambitious project that I am trying to get not only my students, but the community involved in. 

First a little background information.  Last week a teacher at a nearby high school was stabbed to death by a student in his classroom.  The exact motivation for this tragic event is still somewhat sketchy, but it impacted me deeply as I am sure it did many other students and teachers in this part of East Texas.  In response to this heartbreaking incident, I decided to have my students make a positive statement to our community concerning their personal accountability for promoting peace, tolerance and understanding in our community.  What I had initially intended to offer my own Art students, I have broadened to include the entire high school,  I hope to continue to extend it even further into the school district and the community.

So here is what we are doing:
 Participants are asked to take a 6x6 inch piece of copy paper, and write on one side of the paper, their thoughts, hopes, wishes and intent for promoting peace and tolerance in our community.  After writing, they are asked to draw on the other side of the paper an image that relates to what they have just written.  With my students, I talked about a lot of different traditional/cultural symbols for peace.  Students are allowed to use one or more of these symbols in their drawn images if they wish.  One well-known symbol that we talk about is folded origami cranes, and the story of how a wish is granted if you fold a thousand cranes.  I tell the students that if we are of one mind and have essentially the same wish, that we as a group can have our wish granted as well.  We then fold the written and drawn paper into origami cranes.  We will string our cranes on fishing line and hang them as an art installation in the school.  I encourage those who participate to imagine the power of a work of art in which so many people have the same goals and the same desires for our community.  No one will be able to read what is written or see the entire drawn image, because it is all folded up inside the crane, but everyone will know its collective meaning.  The strength of the message is in each individual crane.

I came up with a simple anagram for the title of the project. It helps us talk about connected themes that participants might write/draw about
P eace
U understanding
T olerance
U nity
P ersonal
A ccountability
C ommunity
R espect
A ltruism
N on-violence
E mpathy

I have it in my head that either the entire art installation, or maybe individual strands of cranes can be offered to other schools in the future to encourage them to participate along with us.  We'll see how successful I am at getting that first 1000 cranes.  We currently have a little over 200 finished cranes so we have a long way to go.  I'll keep our progress posted here as we approach our goal.

The pattern on the paper for the crane above is supposed to be an olive branch design - another common symbol for peace.

Wish me luck!


  1. Thoughtful idea, in light of the events that your community, rather, *all* communities face. I've always loved origami art - lovely crane! Thanks also for your comments on my IF illo. Wish it were done, but alas, there's only so many hours in the day! :) Happy Friday!

  2. What a wonderful idea. The best of luck, I'd love to know how you get on with it.

  3. What a beautidul idea! What a great way for a community to come together.

    Do you know how you are going to display them?

    Years ago made a thousand cranes out of 2 inch squares of origami paper. Once I had completed the folding I ending up stringing them together into a sort of jellyfish with multicolored beads.

    Best of luck, and please let me know if I can contribute any cranes.

  4. This is spectacular Sally...So touching and from the heart! :)

  5. What a wonderful project. Good luck with this!


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