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orizuru for the day of remembrance. orizuru for palestine.

Today is the Day of Remembrance and 82nd anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which incarcerated 120,000 people of Japanese descent + displaced several thousand more from their homes, including my family.

When 9066 hit in 1942, my Grandpa Kuni was 18. He’d been admitted to UCLA to study engineering, but when he got a letter from them saying that he was no longer a student there alongside War Relocation Authority orders, he fled with his dad and 6 of his 9 siblings. With mere days to vacate, they packed their lives into 3 cars and drove to Nebraska to live on a tiny sugar beet farm. Meanwhile, his older sister was incarcerated at Manzanar with her family and 2 of his younger siblings were deterred in Japan (30 miles from Hiroshima when it was destroyed by the A-bomb). The family was not reunited again until 1948.

Each year, I make art to hold my family's history; grieve the loss of dignity, freedom, and future; and celebrate resilience. Their stories are knots tied in me, a growing determination to fight hate wherever it festers. I knew I wanted to make orizuru (折鶴, ori = folded+ tsuru = crane), a symbol that's become a movement for peace.

The orizuru's meaning has deepened by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who died at 12 from radiation poisoning (aka ‘A-bomb disease”). While in the hospital, her friend Chizuko shared how orizuru are sacred birds that live 100 years, and if you fold 1,000 of them, you'll get well. Together, they folded for herself and others until her death. This orizuru collage is a way for me to observe the Day of Remembrance and hold my family's story, keeping it alive.

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” - Sadako Sasaki 

“I believe that what our hands are doing can teach our hearts.” - Masahiro Sasaki (Sadako’s brother + peace activist)

Watching endless horrors pour down on Palestinians while the world stands still refusing to intervene, I'm outraged and disgusted at my government's blatant complicity with genocide. I call my representatives, sign petitions, donate to Gaza relief, co-host a creative protest, but none of it feels any sort of close to enough. Sitting with the tension of the wrongness of the world as it burns and turns its back on Gaza, my hands reach for origami paper and begin to fold together the colors of the Palestinian flag into orizuru.

In its wings, a demand for an end to the genocide, military occupation, and displacement of Palestinians. A prayer for peace and comfort to rise in the midst of unspeakable horrors and grief. A call for accountability and reparations so that healing can even have a chance to begin.

Instead of folding from 1 sheet of origami paper, I pulled from different sources- disparate colors and patterns joining to wage peace instead of hate, hand-stitching waterlines "from the river to the sea."

This orizuru is my love letter of peace for Palestine, and is available in Green Door Studio Gallery's To Palestine with Love exhibit + online auction today.

100% of auction proceeds go to fund United Palestinian Appeal's Emergency Relief Fund, which supports the rapid local procurement and distribution of first aid, food, water, clothing, hygiene kits, pharmaceuticals and other needs during crises. UPA is a non-profit empowering Palestinians through socially responsible and sustainable programs in health, education, community, and economic development since 1978.

Orizuru means "never again," and "never again" means now.

how long will it take us to learn

that violence and hate

grows only more of the same?

and when we turn away

we are complicit

we are all a part of this world

and we must

love first

and last

and in between

sorrow, outrage wave after wave

twisting knots into hearts

let our love grow stronger

let our cry be unrelenting-

c e a s e f i r e n o w

c e a s e f i r e n o w

c e a s e f i r e n o w

♡ Kimberly Kuniko

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  • Find my evergreen blogpost with Resources for Supporting Palestine in my bio link with artists, writers, and companies to support + orgs and actions you can take today to stand against genocide, occupation, and ongoing displacement, as well as support Palestinian refugees.

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Words, Art + Photography by

© Kimberly Kuniko

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Welcome to the personal blog of of Kimberly Kuniko, a Nikkei American illustrator, collage artist, poet, and host of cozy, virtual guided creative retreats with a new theme each month.

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All blog content is copyright protected by © Kimberly K. Taylor-Pestell (unless otherwise noted) and may not be used, downloaded, or altered without written permission. Thank you! ♡

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