Origami and Paper Cranes

In Japanese tradition, inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, people make senbazuru, one thousand origami paper cranes on strings.

As a child, Ora learned to make paper cranes from a book as part of a school project to learn something new. In June 2012, she decided to make her first thousand cranes. Since then Ora has created over 10,000 paper cranes in total. She uses 6 inch by 6 inch Folio origami paper in ten solid colors and strings them up in a rainbow pattern. Her individual style of paper crane is a signature of the artistry and precision of her folds. Unlike other cranes, Ora's cranes emulate cranes in flight, their backs rounded after the breath of life is inspired into them.

Traditionally in Japan, the intent of creating cranes is for peace and in remembrance of those killed in war. In Japan and Seattle, where there are statues of and monuments to Sadako Sasaki, many people will lay strands of senbazuru (1000 cranes on a chain), with the wish that there may one day be no more war. Another tradition tells that if you make one thousand cranes, you are granted a wish.

9000 cranes installation
While Ora acknowledges the positive benefit of traditional meanings for paper cranes, her primary interest in cranes is that they are a canvas for meaning, a meaningless meditation (in a positive sense of the word 'meaningless'). Like life, they simply come into existence, without inherent meaning, and eventually they will deteriorate into nothing. By refusing to place meaning upon the cranes, Ora expresses a kind of non-violence, where no meaning is forced upon something. It celebrates the beauty of the canvas in the abstract sense, the sublimity of the tabula rasa, the blank canvas. Paper cranes are a gentle and innocent canvas, requiring no paint, camera, or other artists' tools. When one holds a paper crane or observes the senbazuru, we can choose either to express ourselves through the assignment of meaning, or to gaze at the natural beauty in the moment and appreciate the simple being of the paper cranes.

This contemplative and meditative interaction encourages the viewer to approach life with the understanding that we have the natural tendency to create meaning. While sometimes we do this as a violence against others or out of desperate desire to express ourselves, we remember that we can change meaning anytime we choose. All meaning placed upon a paper crane is that which we ourselves have placed upon it. Like the cranes we are all canvasses. And unlike the cranes we all create meaning for each other. Let us remember the gentle and innocent beauty that lies within the simple state of being and be mindful of the meanings we place upon the canvasses in our world.

To order a chain of paper cranes as a gift for a birthday or anniversary, see the Specialty Cranes page.

To commission a creation of one of the figures below (fire breathing dragon, unicorn, or horse), contact Ora.