Birds of Inspiration


Photo by: Aimee Barrera

“Inside Our Cranium” is a piece with about 800 origami paper cranes representing positive change.

Art classes at Cam High have recently evolved from painting pictures and improving art skills to making a difference that will benefit the local Camarillo community. During the end of January, Mrs. Terry Donaldson’s Visual Art classes took part in a social practice art project that they hoped would positively affect Cam High’s campus.

While the students studied social practice art, works of art that strive to address, and potentially change, elements in a community, they decided to use their art skills to spread positivity around the school campus during the week of first semester finals.

“Students originally worked in groups to research and create some of their own ideas of projects they could conduct on campus with the goal of fostering relationships and increasing positive energy on campus,” said Donaldson. “[Through the project], our hope is that [students] are able to relieve tensions and stress.” 

Donaldson’s classes decided to make origami paper cranes out of golden paper and write one positive action the students could take to change themselves for the better, for that day. 

The project was inspired by a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”

The project was also inspired by the ancient Japanese myth of 1000 cranes. “The legend is that a woman has to make 1000 cranes before her wedding day and it will bring her good luck,” said one of Donaldson’s students, junior Vanessa Rivera. “So by creating the cranes it brings us good luck in achieving our goals.” 

As another way to foster positive energy from students, Donaldson’s Visual Art classes taught art teachers Mrs. Bonnie Mills’ and Mrs. Abigail Santana’s students, how to create these paper cranes. “By teaching other classes, my students are able to involve the community in their art,” said Donaldson. Then students hung the birds from clear fishing line, suspending them in mid air to appear as if they were gliding. 

The birds were displayed in an Art Gallery in C-1, open for all of campus to experience during nutrition or lunch. “Alone, the origami bird is beautiful in its artistry. In accompaniment with hundreds of others, they are breathtaking and powerful,” said Donaldson.

“A lot of people like the way it looks, although usually people aren’t that impressionable. But if a few people are interested and it brightens their day, then it will meet our purpose,” said Andy Martinez, senior.

Brenna Black, junior, said that she hopes to see the display incite others to better their community. “It’s cool to witness the birds in action. I think seeing the goals people wrote on the birds may inspire others to make an effort [in society],” she said.

“My hope is for my students to have a basic understanding of what social practice art is about [and] to be a part of something that is a collective process and bigger than just one person,” said Donaldson. “I also hope that students will get to know someone they might not have otherwise met. I am so proud of the work my students have completed in order to make this project happen.”