Courtesy photo

Twirl has provided an incredible offering of videos exploring masks.

Feelings. We all have them and it's amazing how many of them there are! There are so many of them it's overwhelming at times. They can easily pile up and jumble up all together in a tricky knot. Picking them apart can be a challenge to say the least. Hands on, expressive, meaningful activities often help provide relief; loosening the tension and helping regain control over a jumble of feelings.

Recently, schools across Taos valley reopened to invite students back for in-person classes. Of course, feelings came back too. Maybe like a whole year's worth of feelings. The excitement to see one another in person is met with the recognition of how long it's been since the last time we got together. So many things have changed. It's a lot to take in and process.

In support of all of those feelings, students have embarked on two community art projects this year. Community art projects that are hands on, expressive and meaningful! These projects are offered through two local champions of enrichment in our community. Twirl and the Harwood Museum of Art have been committed partners in our schools in providing projects helping students and teachers create conversations about our feelings through the creation of art. This year, community shared art.


The Harwood Museum of Art project is "Senbazuru of Hope and Healing." Students in grades 3 - 8 explore what they hope and wish for by learning how to fold paper cranes through virtual origami classes and videos provided by Izumi Yokoyama, a Japanese artist in Taos, and the Harwood Museum of Art. Teachers, school staff and families are welcome to participate.

Students also learn the history of Senbazuru, which is a set of 1,000 ORIGAMI cranes strung together and hung by thread. Traditionally in Japan, the crane has been considered a symbol of good health, happiness and long life. Senbazuru is often given to hospitalized people to send wishes of health.

In 1955 a 12-year-old Japanese girl named Sasaki Sadako was diagnosed with acute leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation from the atomic bombings in 1945. After she was hospitalized, she began folding cranes to wish that her illness would heal. Before her death, she folded 1,300 cranes. The story of Sadako has spread and inspired the practice of Senbazuru throughout the world.

"Senbazuru of Hope and Healing at the Harwood Museum is an art installation that reflects collective hopes. When space is filled with positive wishes, it creates a healing environment. Each student writes their wish for the future inside the paper before they carefully fold the crane. Every bird carries the individual's hope and heart's desire. The project also honors students, families, teachers and the schools, to heal the struggles and pains after the long, challenging year." - Izumi Yokoyama

The paper cranes will be installed outside the Harwood Education Center from Mother's Day through the end of May.

Mask Gathering

Twirl's "Mask Gathering" project was launched in October 2020 in response to our masked reality. Twirl and partners wanted to take that reality and explore deeper into the rich creativity, history, culture and emotional significance of mask-making and wearing.

The project provides a playful, creative, fun exploration of masks, past and present. It offers tools for checking in on our feelings, an outlet for expressing them and a community creativity project to connect, uplift and inspire us all in these isolating times! It provides an opportunity to make and share a mask for the Mask Gathering, a virtual display of masks celebrating the many faces and feelings of Taos.

Twirl has provided an incredible offering of videos exploring masks. Students and families across the district have contributed awesome masks for their online gallery. And in December 2020, local artists and performers collaborated in a live-streamed community performance at the Taos Community Auditorium. All of these can be seen on their website, twirltaos.org/mask-gathering.

Exploring Twirl's project is fantastic! Please check out their online gallery; it's inspiring to see the contributions. Make your own mask to share! You can request a free Mask Making Creativity kit by emailing nina@twirltaos.org

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