There is magic in an art form that universally connects us to our creative Self and others. It is a medium that transforms something common into something uncommon, that changes the art-maker, art-taker and art-giver. In my community experience teaching the expressive arts, I’ve seen this magic each time we fold a 1-dimensional square piece of origami paper into a 3-dimensional work of art, something ordinary becomes extraordinary and we all change and learn together.
Origami is a perfect expressive arts medium for a community. The materials are simple and easy to share, and it is the type of creative process that engenders hands-on, eyes-on doing with the help of a friend or teacher who knows origami. I was taught to fold the classic crane by a 4-H artist who volunteered for an Art HOPE workshop, and at age 13, she taught our entire art therapy group the technique with great poise and humor. Many people remember making their first paper crane, and remembering how to make it over time is an affirmation of mental agility, and part of its magic. Since 2006, Art HOPE has been making origami cranes by the colorful thousands and thousands, in schools, hospitals, wellness centers, libraries, farmer’s markets and arts groups. When I teach community origami it inspires wonderfully animated stories about art and life. Participants learn the technique easily and some demonstrate amazing paper folding skills, usually the youngest in our programs; though I’ll never forget one very determined 80 year woman who told me making a paper crane was on her bucket list. She got to it, learned by doing and made over a dozen charming birds to take back to her friends at the senior center. I gave her extra origami paper and instructions so that she could practice and teach her peers. Community arts nurture more community arts, and this is the magic that happens when we come together for creative enrichment and fellowship.
Those magical birds are back in a beautiful place by the sea. Our annual Art HOPE 1000 Healing Cranes Community Origami Gathering will held at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art on Sunday, October 23 from 10am to 3pm. Create origami and enjoy viewing art in the galleries and garden. This event is an on-going project of our Youth Service in Healthcare Program involving local volunteers who fold cranes for York Hospital Oncology Care patients and community members living with longterm illness. In Japanese tradition paper cranes symbolize a wish for health and well-being, and 1000 ensures good luck for all. The wellness benefits include improved agility and memory, active brain-eye-hand functioning, the confidence of learning a creative skill, stress reduction through mindfulness, and each crane is a whimsical work of art. You’ll see and feel the magic.
Thankful to Kristy Cavaretta’s artful eye for the photograph of Art HOPE origami in action.