Following a year living in Japan, during which the country suffered many natural and human-made disasters, French artist Mademoiselle Maurice began installing her colorful origami interventions as positive statements about humanity and sustainability. With paper and thread, Maurice spreads the message of the crane, an elegant symbol of good health, longevity, and truth in Japan. After folding, each “Maurigami” bird is covered with a strengthening solution.

Maurice’s work is inspired by the traditional Japanese belief that the gods will grant the wishes of anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes—and in particular by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Sasaki began folding a thousand cranes as a prayer for world peace, but passed away at age 12 before completing the task. She was later buried with a full thousand, the folding having been finished by her classmates.

In the last few years Maurice’s fragile, vibrant creations, which cover surfaces with rainbows of tiny paper birds, have bloomed large and small across North and Central America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. At the 2015 Bastion de France, a fort-turned-tourist-attraction in the Corsican port city of Porto-Vecchio, Maurice’s multicolored origami cranes became ivy-like tendrils in Installation on Bastion de France. In July 2016, Maurice’s The Lunar Cycle, an installation consisting of 15,000 birds on a 20,000-square-foot wall, became Paris’s largest mural.

Jen Dolen is a photographer and is on the editorial team for Public Art Review.

From Public Art Review #55.