Soaring Crane Memorial A “Site” To See

With educational facilities from elementary school through graduate programs closing for winter break, students and their families and friends will have more time for activities together. One point of interest for people of all ages in the Mason City area is the extraordinary three-dimensional display called “Folding Cranes, Enfolding Community” which consists of nearly 10,800 exquisitely hand-folded cranes, representing Iowans who passed away due to COVID. The sculpture hangs from the ceiling of The Activity Center at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC).

From a 12-foot curtain of cranes in its earliest version in 2020, the full display at NIACC now consists of more than 80 engaging 12-foot strands, ranging from column-like structures to mobiles and spinners. Other configurations evolved to accommodate each space it’s occupied over the last three years as a traveling exhibit. At NIACC, the thousands of cranes dance with the air in the atrium and shimmer when the sunlight is reflected on each crane.

“Folding Cranes, Enfolding Community” is inspirational in its sheer size, magnificent design, and in its artistic “recording” of the pandemic’s place in our state’s recent history. The exhibit includes a timeline of the pandemic and a guest book for comments, along with an informational brochure for visitors.

In responding creatively to the COVID crisis while Iowa was in lockdown in 2020, artist Pamela Douglas of Clive, Iowa wanted to convey these Iowa deaths were not just a statistic—they were people who loved and were loved. Douglas chose the crane with its broad wingspan because of its deeper meaning. In Japan, for example, the paper crane represents hope and passing of the soul into heaven. She continued to fold cranes of loving works of art for the Iowa COVID memorial until the state ceased public records on COVID deaths and as the pandemic became an endemic.

The crane memorial “migrated” from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in West Des Moines and at Reiman Gardens in Ames, then to Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny. It’s been hosted by Loras College in Dubuque and the Waukee Library, as well. It’s scheduled to leave Mason City for Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City in mid-2024.

NIACC’s Activity Center is open every weekday from 7:15 am–4:15 pm, except when campus is closed. Campus will be closed: Dec. 25 & 26 and Jan. 1, 2, & 15.

Soaring Crane Memorial A “Site” To See
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