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1,000 Paper Origami Cranes and the Wish for Peace

Written by Laura Ayer

Fryeburg New Church’s Peace Crane Project led by church member Dawn Crowe.

In Fryeburg, Maine, it was almost serendipitous that two simultaneous Peace Crane Projects were in the works during April and May to create an astounding 1,000 paper origami cranes. The project’s roots are based on the ancient Japanese origami art form, where delicate and colorful kami paper is folded into ornate objects. And, according to ancient legend, “anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods.” In this particular case, peace for Ukraine.

“The idea of a Peace Crane Project came as a recommendation from a friend’s dad, says Jiwon Choi, a Fryeburg Academy sophomore. “I thought it would be a meaningful project [for our origami club] if we all expressed ourselves through art in our hope for peace in Ukraine and all people around the world. When I heard Dawn Crowe was leading another similar project from the Fryeburg New Church, it motivated us to reach out to join our efforts.”

The Peace Crane Project installed at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center led by members of the Academy’s origami club, Jiwon Choi and Isable Mach.

Approximately forty Academy students, faculty, and staff participated in the project through paper donations or assisted in the cranes’ delicate folding to create a stunning 500 paper crane art installation in the Academy’s Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center.

“For us at the Fryeburg New Church, the project was more of an emotional group effort rather than a physical one,” says church member Dawn Crowe. “I was sitting in church one day and trying to think of a creative way to help with the events unfolding in Ukraine, and my thoughts went to origami cranes,” continues Crowe. “It was a fortunate stroke of luck that Jiwon and the origami club had the same idea and that [Fryeburg Academy faculty member] Greg Huang-Dale connected us. I love the idea of this being a sister project as it feels broader in scope to have 500 cranes in each location.”

Dawn Crowe, Jiwon Choi, and Isabel Macht.

And while the two Peace Crane Projects are housed in different locations, both share the same symbolic expression of peace. “I love the idea of a visual representation of peace,” concludes Crowe. “It seems that each crane can represent the thoughts and prayers in all of our hearts when tragedy and injustice strike. Origami itself can be an act of mindfulness, almost like a mantra or prayer if you allow it to be. 

Read the full issue of the September 2022 Messenger

Meet Laura Ayer

Laura Ayer is the director of communications at the Fryeburg Academy in Fryeburg, Maine.