Alumna’s Artwork on Display at Local Library

June 20 2017
Category: The Arts

Artwork by alumna Aya Watanabe ’17 from Tokyo, Japan is currently on display at the Chemung County Library District's Horseheads Free Library now through Labor Day. The exhibit features a modified version of her art installation titled Peace

Library Branch Supervisor Owen Frank invited Watanabe to show her work, in recognition of Horseheads' longstanding ties with Japan. For the past 26 years Horseheads has been connected to a small Japanese town called Nakagawa through a Sister City student exchange program. As part of the program, Horseheads students will be heading to Nakagawa this summer.

Watanabe explained that she created the installation, "To show the importance of compassion in our lives.” 

Aya Watanabe artwork

For the original piece, Watanabe folded, strung, and attached 1,000 origami cranes to a painting of a soldier. In Japanese tradition, the crane was thought to live for 1,000 years, and was held in the highest regard.

“Although I cannot show 1,000 cranes at the Horseheads Library, I am honored to exhibit this modified version."

As Watanabe explained, the crane is now associated with peace, long life and happiness. For her it symbolizes the freedom and joy of living that comes after the struggles of battle and precious lives have been sacrificed.

Aya Watanabe modified artwork on display at the Horseheads Library

“I also created this in remembrance of Sadako Sasaki who survived the 1945 Hiroshima bomb when she was only two years old. Soon after, she was diagnosed with leukemia and later died in 1955. Although she was suffering great pain, she had begun making origami cranes, believing in the legend that if she made 1,000 cranes, her wish to live would be granted. In making 1,000 cranes, my wish is to remember this young girl and to inspire others to work for peace. In this way we can have long life and happiness for all,” said Watanabe. 

Aya Watanabe presented Elmira College's Elizabeth Anne Graham Prize

The faculty of the art department recently recognized Watanabe for her artistic talents with the Elizabeth Ann Graham '42 Prize at the Elmira College Honors Ceremony for graduating seniors. This prize is given by the family of Elizabeth Anne Graham, a member of the Class of 1942, and is presented to the graduate who, in the judgment of the art department, shows the greatest promise in the field of applied art.

The exhibit can be viewed during library hours, Monday - Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., and Thursday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.