Using Art to Share Their Story - International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation

 

Using Art to Share Their Story

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At the beginning of 2021, our China Program began a new education campaign, One Yangtze River With Thousands of Cranes, supported by Huatai Securities, a Chinese finance firm. The Yangtze River basin in eastern China is one of the two most important wintering sites for cranes in Asia, along with the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The basin supports several species of wintering cranes, including nearly the entire population of critically endangered Siberian Cranes. An important goal of the education campaign is to increase awareness and understanding of crane conservation through our work.

“I hope to depict their beauty by myself, to reflect the inspiration gained from the connection between the Yangtze River and cranes in the painting, and also hope cranes can coexist with the world for a long time and appeal to everyone to protect wetlands and preserve the ecological environment.” ~ Li Mingxin, Artist

The campaign began with a suite of five digital New Year’s cards featuring five different crane species, each representing blessings for success in study, love, career, health or wealth. The public viewed the cards and related videos more than 400,000 times on our Chinese social media platforms.

“The crane is a very important image in ancient Chinese culture, and countless scholars and poets have written poems to praise cranes. There are thousands of cranes on the bank of the Yangtze River, delivering plentiful connotations.

I cite ancient Chinese poems about cranes to express people’s love for cranes throughout history.” ~ Liu Yuyang, Artist

Most recently, we partnered with the Center for East Asian-Australasian Flyway Studies, Huatai Securities and the environmental education non-profit organization Roots and Shoots to organize a poster contest featuring the cranes found in the Yangtze River basin. We received over 120 entries from all ages, including professional and amateur artists, and chose 20 winning posters.

We have compiled the winning entries, along with the artist’s statement explaining the theme and techniques used in each artwork. Click here to view the portfolio. We hope you are as inspired as we are in reading about these creative pieces. Please let us know which poster is your favorite!

“The poster is composed of the crease patterns and folding steps of a self-designed origami crane model, both of which are vector drawings. The essence of a paper crane model is formed by a square piece of black and white paper through folding repeatedly without cutting.” ~ Huang Xiaoxian, Artist

This month, we displayed the posters at two public outreach events – the One Yangtze River With Thousands of Cranes Roadshow – in Beijing July 9 to 11 and Shanghai July 16 to 18. Here is a short video with some splendid moments from the roadshow in Shanghai.

The roadshows included:

A traditional craft market exploring the connections between crane conservation and art. Participants created crane-themed handicrafts with the guidance of artists experienced in batik, tie-dye, paper cutting, cloisonné, woodblock and other media and materials.

Our China Program team developed a migration table game with six stations representing the steps on crane flyways. Five players representing five crane species answered questions at each station. The players learned fun facts about cranes and gained a greater understanding of the challenges facing cranes during migration.

We printed the posters and paintings on a translucent cloth, a departure from traditional exhibitions. The participants were impressed by the poster’s design and the colorful creation of the children’s paintings. In addition, five crane models were made by artists and surrounded by wetland plants. The cranes each carried campaign messages. Children liked to take photos and compare their height with the models.


We invited different experts to give speeches to the public. The experts introduced the nine crane species in China, the different species’ conservation status and habitats, bird banding, satellite tracking, nature in cities, the work of international nonprofit organizations and related conservation themes.

 

About One Yangtze River With Thousands of Cranes:

In Chinese traditional culture, the crane is deeply loved by the public as a symbol of longevity, happiness and nobility. However, cranes also are a very important species in nature. Eight of the 15 species of cranes in the world are distributed in China, and five of them are endangered. To spread the charm of cranes, the One Yangtze River With Thousands of Cranes project will break the barrier between the public and animal protection through various online and offline activities and the latest progress and interesting story sharing.

Story submitted by China Program Coordinator Hou Bo. Click here to learn more about our East Asia Programs.