This sculpture project began in May, just after the New York Times ran their May 24th headline “U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS”. I had been staying home and away from others for fear of getting and spreading the Coronavirus. I hadn’t been keeping up with the news at that time, for self preservation, so I had no idea that our losses were getting so massive. I saw the headline on social media and it was like an awful surreal dream. How could it have gotten this bad? How could that count be right? How could our government mismanage the pandemic so poorly? An incalculable loss.
The NYT article named 1,000 of the people who died. There was an account of a person who read aloud all of these 1,000 names in tribute to the dead. I started thinking about what I could do to mourn, to recognize those people’s lives. That’s when I started thinking of making something that had 100,000 pieces. Origami played into this idea well – a nod to Sadako’s thousand paper cranes. It’s also something that many people can learn and do.
I knew how to fold the triangular origami pieces already, and I started working on the details of this idea. I decided on a size for each unit – 2 3/4 x 5 inches, which allowed six units to be made from a regular sheet of paper.
Next was the color. I thought of using white paper, which would be beautiful and funerary, but something was holding me back with that idea. I considered newsprint, but decided that the soft newspaper would not fold well. I was drawn to red. Red for the color of bloodshed, for the color of anger. The ever energetic red felt empowering, felt fitting.
I got some paper and some supplies. I knew this idea needed community support and participation, that I couldn’t fold them all by myself, but I needed to begin. I started folding.