The adult Whooping Crane is the most famous endangered bird in North America. The only naturally occurring flock migrates south from Canada to rapidly dwindling wintering grounds in Texas. A new migratory flock is being created from crane chicks released annually and taught to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida with the aid of ultralight led aircraft.
The story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes popularized an ancient Japanese legend that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes so pleases the gods, that they will be granted one wish. Believing that small acts can make a difference, I decided to fold enough cranes for three wishes.
1,000 Faces, 3,000 Cranes, a wall of portraits and an installation of origami cranes, is a work in progress created to honor the crane re-introduction work being done. Initially installed in Wisconsin, it is a starting point for integrating personal and communal experiences into an ongoing narrative about our actions in a changing world.
While researching Whooping Cranes for the project, my excitement was tempered with dismay and despair. Studying maps, I realized the cranes would be wintering just off the Gulf of Mexico in Florida; in the midst of the BP Oil Spill.
Industrial incidents, chemical pollution, and other human and natural disasters threaten us all and seem to be more frequent. The question of what is happening to us humans propelled me to walk the streets and begin a dialog with people I did not know about the near extinction of the cranes. For the cranes to survive along a new migration path, the education of the public was essential.
As I began talking with and photographing people, I became aware that many are attuned to the disappearance of birds and that it matters to them. While people did not know about the crane re-introduction project specifically, I learned that most felt a love for the creatures that taught us to fly. The photographs of each person, images made quickly like passport photos, are markers of our conversations. To date I have about 500 photographs. Upon completion, the 1,000 faces will become another wish and a point of reference of hope for the future.