Origami Whales Project

Children's Whale Art Project

Background of the Origami Whales Project and the Children's Whale Art Project

At the 10th Annual Santa Barbara Whale Festival (27 & 28 March 2004) I coordinated two children's whale art activism events (for background information please scroll down this page to the Children's Whale Art Project (Spring 2001) section.

The new project in 2004 was the "1,400 Origami Whales" campaign that I initially proposed to the Santa Barbara Whale Festival, and then to WhaleWatch.org and WSPA.org. This idea was well-received and expanded internationally as a campaign to get the message to the IWC (International Whaling Commission). We also brought back the children's whale art action postcards (with pre-printed letter to the IWC delegate of the United States on one side, the other side is blank for the children to draw a whale as part of the message).

The significance of the 1,400 origami whales campaign is based on the Japanese legend of 1,000 origami cranes. Here is one story that has been told around the world as a message for peace: "Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl, on the threshold of adolescence, developed leukemia in 1955, from the effects of radiation caused by the bombing of Hiroshima. While hospitalized, her closest friend reminded her of the Japanese legend that if she folded a thousand paper cranes, the gods might grant her wish to be well again. With hope and determination, Sadako began folding."

Rather than the traditional 1,000, we chose the number 1,400 as it represented the total number of whales that would be killed in the year 2004. This was the sum of the quotas set by Iceland, Japan, and Norway.

Thanks to the participation of people all over the US, including Mexico and Canada, we met our goal of attaining 1,400 origami whales. Over one weekend, a gathering of friends volunteered in creating a curtain of 1,400 origami whales 13.5 feet across, and 5 foot high. This curtain was displayed at a presentation to Mr. Rolland Schmitten of NOAA (the IWC delegate of the US). Many Thanks to Barbara, Susan at WSPA.org, All of Mr. Ricupito's students, Paul, Suzi, and everyone who dedicated time and effort to express their wish to protect whales!

In mid-June 2006, the "Curtain of 2,285 Origami Whales"* was exhibited at the WHALEWATCH.org base of operations suite, during the 58th annual meeting of the IWC in St. Kitts/Nevis, through co-sponsorship from WSPA.org. (*An additional section of 885 origami whales was added to the original curtain, representing the increase in whaling quotas.

The 1,400 Origami Whale & Children's Art and Activism project, and the 2006 Curtain of Origami Whales Project were supported by WSPA.org (World Society for Protection of Animals).

About the Children's Whale Art Project (Spring 2001)

In the Summer 2000, Japan and Norway announced that they would intensify their whaling activities, further defying the International Whaling Commission by increasing their self-made quotas totalling to nearly 1,200 whales killed annually. In response to this grave issue, I have been closely watching information sources to keep my webpage ("Worldwide Resumption of Commercial Whaling") updated with news and action links.



When asked in the Winter 2000, when asked invited to be featured artist and coordinator of art activities for the 7th Annual Santa Barbara Whale Festival, I had a vision: I thought of visiting classrooms at Canalino School (Carpinteria) to talk with the students about whales and the current threats of commercial whaling. I was hoping to inspire the children to paint whales, and then partake in a letter writing campaign, asking the President of the United States to take action to protect whales. I thought of this as a way to encourage children to partake in creative outlets, as well as instilling a sense of self-empowerment in them, to know that what they can contribute to the world does matter. This idea has now become a reality.

The organizers for the Santa Barbara Whale Festival enthusiastically received my proposal to display the children's art at the festival, and supported the idea of a "Children's Whale Art" booth. As a result, we collected about 300 signed postcards addressed to each President George W. Bush, and to the Prime Minister of Japan, calling for a halt to commercial whaling. Numerous teachers, administrators, and parents and their children participated, and a total of over 1.100 postcards were collected. 125 paintings and 67 handwritten letters were contributed by the children participating in this project.

Packages containing these postcards, paintings & letters were assembled and sent to the leaders of both the United States and Japan. Some copies of these paintings & letters went on display at the National Science Museum in Tokyo to share the feelings and concerns of the children in our country, with those in Japan. Thanks to the help of some very dedicated friends who assisted in coordinating classroom visits, as well as volunteering as hosts at the booth, Valerie Bohonus of the Santa Barbara Whale Festival, and supporting local businesses (Wootton Printing and Santa Barbara Art Essentials), the "Children's Whale Art" booth has been a great success. Additional thanks to Jilla and the students of Norma Coombs Alternative School, Pasadena, for their wonderful postcard artwork! I wish to thank all who have been involved in this project, including the students and teachers, for their contribution of time and talents to this effort.

Peggy Oki meeting with Mr. Rolland Schmitten, IWC delegate of the United States, in Washington, DC

Many Thanks for ongoing support of the Origami Whales Project