Local artist creates paper cranes for souls lost in pandemic

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Origami artist and gallery owner Alice Larson now has a powerful new work on display in her gallery, Island Paper Chase, which commemorates the lives lost to COVID-19 in King County.

The artwork, titled “Forest of Lost Souls,” features a hanging origami crane for everyone who has died of illness in the county since March 2020. As of mid-July 2021, that number had totaled 1,680. The golden cranes on the artwork represent the lives lost in Vashon.

The cranes are strung on an almost invisible monofilament line, to make it appear as if they are flying, and then placed on an aluminum frame – which unfortunately can be enlarged if numbers increase, Larson said.

Its art form, she added, is typically used to celebrate happy and sad occasions. She therefore felt that the paper cranes were an appropriate symbol to represent those who lost their lives due to illness.

Plus, she believes the scale of the artwork will help viewers better appreciate the true toll of the pandemic.

“I have been troubled for some time by our collective inability to truly appreciate the scale of the individuals we have lost to COVID,” she said. “When you say over 600,000 in the United States, the number is just too large to be conceived or even react. I think that number needs to be tilted towards a geographic level that most people can appreciate, like King County, Washington, for those of us who live here.

The artwork, which includes explanatory signage, will be on display in a small side room at Island Paper Chase during the First Friday Gallery Cruise which runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, August 6.

But Larson hopes to eventually install the work in a larger room.

“In the best of all worlds, I would like this display to be interactive, allowing people to browse the strands and let those most affected write the name of someone they lost to COVID on a crane “she said. “For now, I want viewers to be able to walk around the exhibition, and my desire is to hang this work in a public space where it can be widely viewed.”

Larson credited Bangasser and Associates, of Vashon, for their contribution to the construction of the aluminum frame of the artwork.

To find out which other exhibitions will open on the first Friday, see page 8.



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