The paintings are what started this all in my mind. I am so very visual, and I must see first. So I began sketching. I brainstorm best in pictures. I had recently spent time with a broken friend who makes art out of broken mirror pieces, and the word “broken” kept coming to mind as I painted.
I was tasked with how the night would look. What would people see as they walk into this anti-trafficking fundraising event? The committee had all agreed on birds and the phrase “Freedom to Fly.”
I continued to play with shapes, forming birds and trees and wings. The birds made of shapes reminded me of origami, and “hanging” them on trees would give the illusion of leaves when the birds were painted green.
We were now nearing 600 green origami birds with 2 months left before the event. A woman I had just met sat down beside me to fold birds with us. We were all volunteers for Valley Against Sex Trafficking (VAST), hoping to do something to help erradicate human trafficking here in the Lehigh Valley. It’s our local anti-trafficking coalition to raise awareness and work with rescued survivors.
Then, the woman asked the question I had heard so many times. “Why green origami birds?”
I smiled, relishing these intimate opportunities to make large ideas more tangible, holding and intricately folding small bits of paper together in community with others while speaking the truth.
Asking them to fold origami birds is a simple and beautiful gesture. I explained to her that the birds are a fantastic symbol of flying free. We long for the victims in our community to experience this freedom. Origami, being made of folded shapes, is a perfect representation of broken victims. These broken and folded pieces become beautiful birds in our hands. We desire to re-shape their brokenness and help them fly.
So this is why we are putting green birds in the hands of those who are generally unaware. The art will be hung where their eyes can’t ignore it - in businesses and coffee shops. I know the power of a picture to stop busy feet and stir up questions; “Human Trafficking is happening here?”
Art can begin conversations where words cannot.
And as we hung the folded green birds on the trees the night of the event, it looked like the tree was starting to come alive.
Fixing brokenness speaks to the desire of all humanity, but we as followers of Jesus know the Fixer of all broken things. This is Who I think of now when I see an origami bird. He became broken so that we could be free - not just free, but alive! That’s the power of a tangible image in front of your eyes and in your hands.
Kristin Kjorlaug uses her grandmother's artist name in her absence to honor the love for art that has been passed down to her, and the Scandinavian heritage that influences it. She is married to a Polish pastor in a messy city called Allentown, where they have been church planting for 8 years. She is always working on ideas for books, while slowly studying art, raising awareness against human trafficking, and trying to figure out how to be in her community while raising two kids. They love the city, electric cars and biking. They have a yorkie, a white dove, an outside cat and a bearded dragon. Jesus is Kristin’s true love, and they often talk through pictures.