Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds hundreds of tiny cranes (no bigger than a centimeter each) by hand, then attaches them to branching wire forms. The results look like bonsai trees—bonsai trees with birds for leaves.
Onogawa started making the sculptures after visiting the site of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. At first he felt terrified by our powerlessness over nature. But then he saw 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a ruined school building. He was "empowered by the power of life ... that shined so brightly in the aftermath" of the disaster. It inspired him to create his own art with origami cranes.
In Asian cultures, cranes symbolize long life, truth, faithfulness, and beauty. Legend has it that anyone with the patience and commitment to fold 1,000 origami cranes will be granted their deepest wish or prayer. Onogawa's tiny cranes combine the fragility of life with the power of the human spirit. In the face of terrible destruction, his sculptures are prayers for long life, truth, faithfulness and beauty.
See Naoki Onogawa's sculptures on Instagram