In January 2013, I visited Hiroshima, the city where the atomic bomb, Little Boy, had been dropped in 1945. The International Peace Museum and other landmarks stand in remembrance of the lives lost and in recognition of the need for nuclear disarmament. The city is beautiful, and its citizens are the most hospitable I have ever encountered. I was struck by how the memory of the bombing was interwoven into their fabric of life.
One of the symbols that could be found all around the city was the senbazuru, or one-thousand paper cranes. In Japan, folding one-thousand paper cranes is said to bring you good luck. The practice was popularized around the world by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl from Hiroshima who became ill due to atomic radiation, and began folding paper cranes in hopes of wishing herself back to good health. The story goes that she died before she could finish the cranes, so her classmates finished them for her. There is a statue of Sadako holding a giant paper crane above her head, in a square near the site of the bombing.
I wondered what it would be like to face this painful memory every day, so, between April and August 2013, I folded origami cranes as a practice of meditation and reconciliation. I displayed the completed senbazuru in Gold Medal Park in my hometown of Minneapolis on August 6th to share my work with the public.