Studio Visit: Daniel Ito

Studio Visit: Daniel Ito

Daniel Ito, 27, of Chamapign folded more than 5,000 origami cranes for his installation, "Peace Piece," at 322 N. Neil St., C.

Why did you fold all these origami cranes to create "Peace Piece"?

Because I wanted to reintroduce peace as a possibility in this world.

Do you think many people know the story of Sadako Sasaki, the Japanese girl who folded 1,000 paper cranes in a wish for peace before she died as a result of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima?

I don't know. The book "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" by Eleanor Coerr, which I read as a fourth-grader at Garden Hills Elementary, is historical fiction, but Sadako was real. There are statues of her in Hiroshima and Seattle. I think that's actually quite powerful because it's on both side of the Pacific.

When did you start folding all these cranes?

I started around Christmas, and by mid-January, I had up to 1,000, but I didn't have the volume to create a mushroom cloud. I continued folding until I got up to 3,000 by the end of April. Then I took a break to mid-July, then I got up to 5,000. Now I can fold 40 in an hour. It's just muscle memory.

It's interesting that you didn't want to pierce the cranes as you assembled them together.

I insert some in black poster frames. The ones in the back are stacked on top of each other. I attached some by paper clips. I didn't want to use an animal product like glue, and I didn't want to pierce the cranes' bodies. I believe peace comes from working together and choosing to do so rather than being bound or forced to do so.

I noticed in one piece, the cranes spell out 'Illini' in orange and blue.

I grew up here. My dad and my uncle went to the UI. I went to Uni High, and I'm a 2011 grad of the UI in finance.

After that, I worked at one of the Big Four accounting companies in New York City for two years in financial services. But the job just wasn't for me. I'm gratified for the opportunity because it gave me perspective on how much humans consume and waste.

Do you know how long 'Peace Piece' will remain on display?

There's no set time. I would like for it to be up there through the holiday season so it could resemble a Christmas tree or the spirit of a Christmas tree. If it's going to be replaced by another art exhibit, I would like it to be something that speaks to humanity. I do think art has tremendous value in terms of pure human expression.

Do you think 'Peace Piece' has an effect on people who see it?

That's a great question. Yes and no. I taught a few children to fold cranes, and I brought them in and seeing how they marveled at it was really rewarding to me. Nothing is catalyzed yet. I'm trying to gauge how people feel about it. I'm trying to broadcast it to people. From my perspective, we spend so much money on war. I think the U.S. has the greatest military footprint in human history. Valuing life, I feel we could transfer all that money we're spending on war to other services, like addressing poverty, imprisonment, education and health care. Let's ensure first that we live and figure out how to live.

Do you make other art?

I write. I write rhymes. I keep a journal. I like storytelling, oral storytelling. It's like ancient technology. It's the way we're human.

How did you become so socially conscious or evolved?

Through my experiences. I've had great teachers. I've been blessed to be able to travel and live in New York. I'm just an instrument. If you see or hear goodness from me, thank the creator for that.

Topics (1):Art