CREATIVE PEAKS: Peace project

By on August 4, 2015

Artist explores ancient Japanese symbolism in new show


Ancient symbols and powerful words coalesce in Todd Kosharek’s latest work.

Jackson, WY – There is an ancient Japanese legend that says whoever folds 1,000 paper cranes will receive one wish. It was the story that inspired a young girl, Sadako, dying of leukemia after exposure to radiation from the nuclear bomb that detonated in her hometown of Hiroshima during World War II, to attempt to fold 1,000 of the delicate origami birds. While Sadako died before finishing, the crane emerged as a symbol of peace.

Years later, Jackson artist Todd Kosharek, inspired by the intricate folds, began a series of paintings in 2007, starting with a small piece capturing a single crane.

Kosharek’s become known for his origami crane paintings, but his new solo show at Daly Projects explores the subject matter he knows intimately in a new way. With most of the paintings in this exhibition, Kosharek explores peace, the symbol for which the crane now stands.

Kosharek painted one crane folded on the handwritten speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. Another captures the United States constitution folded into a crane. And one painting features a poem asking if peace exists, folded neatly into a crane.

For his exploration of peace,  Kosharek thought about peace through prayer, agreement, principles, acceptance, transformation and individuals, he said.

The emphasis of each painting is on the crane, not the setting. He challenged himself with creating paintings that were digestible and easy to understand without needing interpretation. And he wanted each painting to be beautiful. He didn’t want the paintings to feel dark.

“We’ve gotten this idea that if art has meaning to it, it has to be political, insensitive or ugly,” Kosharek said. “Why not lure people in? Beauty is something we have to have everywhere.”


The peace paintings grew from Kosharek’s other crane painting project. Kosharek was looking for a big project when he came across instructions on how to fold an origami crane. It was such a different but historically rich subject matter, he thought. With the complexity of dimensions and design, it became the perfect long-term project for the artist.

Kosharek decided he wanted to paint 1,000 cranes spread across eight large canvasses. Each painting would depict hundreds of cranes in a different room in a house, like the study, a bedroom, dining room or hallway. His show will feature two of the large room paintings that are part of the project he expects to finish in 2017.

One of the large paintings, which is 50 by 70 inches, took him two years to create from start to finish.

Those large paintings explore the idea of folding 1,000 origami birds, while the new, smaller works looks at the meaning of the cranes.

Kosharek has painted cranes for almost 10 years and in that time he’s evolved as an artist, but also as a person. With the birth of his son, he started seeing the world differently.

“I really don’t see the world as mine anymore,” Kosharek said. “I now see the world as his and ask ‘What am I giving him?’ I think images have a lot of power. One reason people destroy artwork is there is power in art.”

Thinking about his son and his own artwork he realized he’d never really explored the meaning behind the objects he’d become so known for painting.

While Kosharek can now draw folded origami cranes from every angle, and change the size and scale of each, the peace project offered new challenges, like recreating the penmanship of Martin Luther King on an angle.

“His handwriting is exquisite,” Kosharek said. “He punctuates the most random things, putting an emphasis on words like the way he speaks.”

Capturing handwriting, accurately and from different angles, was the hardest part of the project. It took Kosharek six months of full-time work to finish the nine new paintings for his exhibition.

The show also includes four portraits. PJH

“Folded: Symbol,” a solo exhibition by artist Todd Kosharek, reception is 5 to 7 p.m., Friday at Daly Projects. The show hangs through August.

About Kelsey Dayton

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