thousand cranes

Update! by airi katsuta

Oh gosh, it's already JULY! Am I getting old or is time just flying soooo fast!? Anyways, I feel very bad that I haven't updated this blog in over 2 months, and a lot has happened so I wanted to give you an update.

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I finally had my first SOLO show! WOOHOOOO! In April. Sorry it took so long to tell you all. The show was at Method Art Gallery, located in Old Town Scottsdale on Marshall Way. It was the premier of my project "Resilience". It was a great opening night with my friends and family there, and a bunch of people who strolled in during ArtWalk. I had a great time talking to everyone and conversing about my work. Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

And then right after that, I had my First Friday debut at the Grace Chapel Gallery in Downtown Phoenix. It was an event called "The Night of the Thousand Cranes" by Release The Fear. Release The Fear is a non-profit organization that helps kids in juvenile detention to focus their behavior into fine arts and music. They contacted me to be a part of the event to show my Thousand Cranes display and I said, why not? Everyone was so nice, Robert, Blair, and Bill are such wonderful people and they worked with me to find a perfect spot in the gallery. The building is actually connected to an abandoned church that burnt down in the 80's (I think), and it looked post-apocalyptic. Super awesome! The Night of the Thousand Cranes went well, with the talented Ken Koshio playing his Taiko Drums, Encolor teaching people how to write Kanji Calligraphy, people folding origami, and cosplay people performing. It was a great night filled with music, art, and laughter. I had an amazing experience with talking in front of a crowd and giving a little speech about my installation and the meaning of the Thousand Cranes. And Channel 5 stopped by and interview Robert in front of my cranes! Awesome exposure, right? :)

The cranes will be up in the Release the Fear headquarters, Grace Chapel, 302 W. Monroe, in the downtown Phoenix Arts District, until September.

I've had a few inquiries on my photographs recently so I'm very excited about what's coming next for me. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and patiently working away until then. Don't stop, get it get it.

 

Next post is going to be about Clutch Jewelry, and the trip we took to Payson!

Thousand Cranes at Arizona Matsuri Festival by airi katsuta

Photo by Cory Baumer I'm disappointed I haven't been able to blog as much as I've wanted to recently, but glad there's so much to blog about!

I got to be a part of Arizona Matsuri Festival on February 23rd and 24th again this year and had a fantastic time. It was a rush meeting thousands of people and getting the opportunity to share with them the story behind 1,000 Cranes as well as the process of creating the one a kind exhibit from scratch. To read more about the process, check out my other blog post

Unlike last year, I got the transportation of 1,000 cranes down to a science! Because the cranes are strung on fishing line individually with as many as ten cranes per strand, putting each strand in a separate bag saved hours of set-up time.

Photo by Cory Baumer

Even though every strand of blue and white cranes was weighted down with a marble to prevent tangles, the Sunday weather had other plans. Gusts of fierce wind kept me on a ladder all day untangling (in a dress no less!). For some reason many were delighted to receive my business card from a few feet higher in altitude. The display was even visited by a local news crew! It was a unique experience giving a video interview with so much sunscreen in my eyes that I didn't know which way was up:)

The best part of the festival this year was all the positive reactions I got to the installation. It became clear to me that 1,000 Cranes has an aesthetic that appeals to so many different people. All I can think of now is: how am I going to top this?

Local artist Airi Katsuta and her thousand cranes

A very kind and talented local photographer and blogger wrote a wonderful blog post about me and the festival. Check it out! Poolephotographyblog.com

3-11-2011 by airi katsuta

Sorry for being MIA for a while. Everything was just crazy that I barely had time to even breathe. I know I should've written about this a while ago, and it may sound like a bunch of mumbling, but here it goes. March 11 has passed, and the one year anniversary of the Earthquake/Tsunami came. I felt strange inside because I didn't know if I should be happy or sad.

Happy: My whole outlook on life changed after I volunteered. I learned so much from that experience that I've been sharing my stories with others. This whole year I dedicated myself to Japan. I learned what it feels like to do something for others, and realize how it feels to be appreciated. I feel more connected to my roots now, and I'm very happy with where I am.

Sad: It took this disaster for me to realize everything. So many lives were lost, so many lives were destroyed. Was I selfish to "use" this experience to explore my identity? The disaster left so much damage that it's not even close to what it used to be and so much cleaning/rebuilding needs to be done.

So March 10 was a strange day with all this confusion in my head. But all that cloudiness went away the next day.

On March 11, there was a Annual Remembrance Event of the Tsunami with a screening of the Academy Award Nominated documentary, "Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom". I was fortunate enough to be asked to display my Thousand Cranes installation and share my photographs as well. I watched the documentary and I couldn't help but cry at first. I saw the destruction that the tsunami caused on screen and I took it personal. The first time I saw it on the news, I was amazed of how powerful Mother Nature was. But it was still someone else's problem. But after volunteering, after meeting the Ishinomaki locals, after moving bag after bag filled with the mud that was once at the bottom of the ocean... After all that, I was involved.

Though I was only there for 2 weeks, I put my all in it. It was hard work, but nothing compared to the people who's been there from the start. They're strong, and I'd be happy if I can be half as strong as them. While I volunteered, as a photographer, I wanted to take as many pictures as I could. But then again, this wasn't a vacation, or sight-seeing. It was to assist with the aid of the relief. I was so focused on doing the tasks I was handed, that I forgot to take pictures first half of the trip. And after seeing the destruction, it was so much to take in that it was hard for me to get anything in the way from my own eyes. It sounds crazy that I'm saying this, but I didn't want the lens to be in the way between me and Ishinomaki. But then, I wanted to bring back something to show my community of what was happening in Japan. I felt that it was my job to share it with the people who are in America. So towards the end, I started shooting.

Since I've been back to Arizona, I wondered what I could do here since I can't physically be there to help Ishinomaki. And the only thing I know how to do well is art. I learned how to cyanotype in my Alternative Processes class with my teacher, Christopher Colville, and he helped me get my ideas together for my cranes. So for his class, I started making cyanotypes with feathers on tracing paper to make the design, and then folded cranes obsessively. Everyday, every night, every moment that I was awake. At the time, I didn't know what it was for, but then eventually, I was deeply invested in it to give this as an offering for the people of Ishinomaki. I couldn't have done it alone, I had my mom, my boyfriend Rex, my friend Ashley to help me fold. My 2 cats, Whiskers and Bailey stayed up late nights with me as I folded. I folded 1000 cyanotyped cranes and made an installation. My wish was for Japan's good luck, good health, and recovery.

For the first time I had the opportunity to show it in my group BFA show, COOL. among my friends. And this exhibition lead me to Matsuri. And that lead me to the screening for the Tsunami & the Cherry Blossom.

I hope that Ishinomaki can feel the positive energy that I'm sending them. It may be little on a global scale, but I'm trying to spread the word out to everyone I know and everyone I can reach. All I want is good for Ishinomaki.