For many artists, their job is to make sense of not only the world around them, but also senseless acts. After a shooting in Boulder in March that claimed the lives of 10 people, a surge of community support and emotion followed. An assortment of handmade tributes, from poems to paintings, lined the perimeter of where the filming took place.
Artists can’t always explain what prompts them to work, but many can cite the incident or emotion that prompts them to start creating without planning what will happen to their feelings. It’s just what they do as artists.
This unfamiliar sentiment visited artist Michael Grab in March.
âThe shooting took place on Monday, and I decided to go out on Tuesday, even though the weather was not great,â he said. “I just decided to go there and didn’t really have a goal in mind when I went out, I just went out and got into space and let the process go. unwind. “
Grab says he was prompted to create something out of his grief. His medium? Stone balancing, an artistic practice on which he has been working for more than a decade.
âIt was just kind of a natural thing that had to be done, was doing these 10 structures – that I always called Boulderites – here in Boulder Creek. Just channeling my art and that kind of therapeutic and meditative way almost to lift this feeling of heaviness for myself to begin with. â
Grab’s art was never intended to be a permanent memorial. Part of his process as a Terran artist is to return his building materials to where he found them.
âIt’s more like a transient art form,â Grab said. âI think that’s part of power as well and the impact of it is just that transience, which really kind of indicates the nature of existence. And I think it just helps deal with it all.
Artist Karla Funderburk was miles from Boulder when she heard news of the shooting. The Los Angeles-based artist was preparing to set up his own artistic memorial at the Museum of Boulder in memory of those who had died from COVID-19. She has found solace in the art of paper folding and in what the paper cranes she does symbolize: wishes for peace or recovery and as a point of transition – as cranes in Japanese folklore carry dead souls. towards the next life.
âI felt so helpless. I felt so alone. I just wanted to start releasing some of this anxiety, this fear, this separation, âshe said. âI had a journal I was writing in and I just tore a page, turned it into a square, and started folding. And so my first crane was lined loose leaf paper.
Funderburk made many more paper cranes and invited other people to make them along with it so they could mourn collectively. She collected cranes – over 130,000 – from people in nine different countries and 46 in the United States.
âI had put a box outside my door, people were walking by and dropping cranes,â Funderburk said. At that time, I had a small station where you could fold a crane, or you could take cranes full of paper and bring them back to my gallery.
As it turns out, the idea of ââmaking paper cranes also came to Meridith Bacus’ daughter Lita after visiting the memorial outside the King Soopers where the shooting took place not far from their home.
âMy daughter was kind of like, ‘I’m going to go to bed,’ and that seemed like the right decision,â Bacus said.
Like Funderburk, the Bacus family collected paper cranes donated by neighbors and placed them at the makeshift memorial near the grocery store.
âWe had people who also felt the same way and a little helpless and desperate, and we didn’t know what to do,â she said. âIn two days, we folded a thousand cranes and it was very cute.
As the spring storms rolled in, the Museum of Boulder stepped up to preserve the cranes and a number of other items that would not survive the snow. It was then that Funderburk heard about the local cranes from Museum of Boulder director Lori Preston. All the cranes were placed together at the museum in a sign of unity and solidarity.
âWe hung it in the middle of the area it had separated for the memorial crane project in the facility,â Funderburk said. “You can walk to the end, and once you get to the center, the 10 strands with the names are there. Hopefully my memorial saves some space and embraces those lives.”