Every day children throughout the world are displaced from their homes, lose family members, and are injured during acts of war and violent conflict. Children are the true casualties of war. They are innocent victims whose voices are lost and needs ignored. Children are young and impressionable and the experiences they have last with them - if they survive - the rest of their lives.
Using art as a bridge, it is possible to facilitate awareness of social issues surrounding the effects of war and violent conflict on children, as well as fulfill needs of children throughout the world. An example of this is the original Children's Peace Crane Project (CPCP) which was completed as a senior these exhibit in 1999 for the Fine Art Department of the University of Montana. The exhibit was comprised of 50,000 folded paper cranes which hung on hundreds of strands to form the walls of an eight foot by twelve foot room. The center of the room displayed six story-boxes on pedestals that held stories and poems written by children from different parts of world during times of war and violent conflict. The cranes served as a representation of the Japanese story about a little girl, Sadako, who became sick as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima. She folded cranes as they are a symbol of peace and good health in the hopes of getting well. This symbol was expanded in the CPCP to encompass all the children of the world in wishing them peace and good health. People were moved by the numbers of cranes which had been folded by children in Montana, Japan and Europe, and the stories written by the children.
During the eight years since I completed the original CPCP, I have received a lot of encouragement and support toward expanding the CPCP to a national and international level. I plan to further develop the CPCP, and will take the original idea illustrated in my senior thesis and build it into a more substantial project that promotes public awareness and monetary assistance to children around the world experiencing war and violent conflict. Please stay tuned as plans develop!
I sit in front of my first test wall.
I painted many different backgrounds to determine the best backdrop for the cranes.
I strung 625 strands of cranes with 80 cranes on each strand.
The project was viewed by visitors of all ages. One of my goals was to make an emotional impact and educate viewers without the burden of statistics and facts.
The next set of images document the seven story-boxes and poems:
The last, the very last
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
against a white stone...
Such, such a yellow
Is carried way up high
It went away I'm sure because it wished
to kiss the world goodbye.
For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto
But I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut candles in the court
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live here,
In the ghetto.
Author: Pavel Friedman
...burned by a flash,
blanketed by the
ashes of death, soaked
by a tarry black rain.
Author: Sadako Kurihara
The war has ruined us for everything.
We are not youth any longer. We don't want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world, and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in war.
Author: Erich Remarque
Remember us after we have gone.
Don't forget us.
Conjure up our faces and our words.
Our image will be as dew in the hearts of those who want to remember us.
Author: Popol Vuh
Sunday, July 5, 1992,
I feel caged. All I can see through the broken windows is the park in front of my house. Empty, deserted, no children, no joy. I hear the sound of shells, and everything around me smells of war. War is now my life. OOHHH, I can't stand it anymore! I want to scream and cry. I wish I could play the piano at least, but I can't even do that because it's in the "dangerous room," where I'm not allowed. How long is this going to go on???
Author: Zlata Filipovic
As people walked through the exhibit and read the poems, they were invited to make their own wish for peace and place a white crane in a pool of water.