This past week, Women’s Union and Student Allies for Equality tabled in Reamer Campus Center to spread information about the Origami Swan Project. It is a project in which people are asked to fold origami swans and send them to Chelsea Thompto.
Thompto is a transgender artist who lives in California. Many aspects of her work are inspired by her experiences transitioning from male to female. On her website she shares that, “in the past, (her) work has dealt with boundaries, social norms and medical procedure as it relates to (her) experience transitioning.” The use of the “swan” form seen throughout her works, “Conversions” and “Flux,” served as a sort of self portrait as she worked through the issues of her own personal transition.
On her website, Thompto vividly explains the concept behind the Swan Project and states that, “each white origami swan submitted will be used in an art installation piece.” Along with the white origami swans, there will also be one gray swan (which she has made), representing the 1 in 30,000 transwomen in society.
Women’s Union is a student support and action group at Union, which facilitates campus-wide discussions on the issue of the importance of women. The group organizes a host of activities addressing these issues.
Antonia Batha ’17, president of Women’s Union, discussed her personal involvement with the Origami Swan Project, stating, “This project was really interesting to me as well as the Women’s Union, because transgender visibility is so low in our society and on campus. This project is so easy for students to be involved in while teaching them about the prevalence of transgender women.”
Batha shared that Associate Professor of History Andrea Foroughi discovered the project and forwarded the information to her. “Professor Foroughi is always on the lookout for projects that we can bring to campus, and I really liked the idea behind this project, so I brought it to Women’s Union,” Batha stated.
Anyone can get involved simply by sending an origami swan to Thompto. Thompto explains where to send the swans on her website.
Finally, when asked why Women’s Union decided to partake in this project, Batha stated, “Women’s Union encompasses all aspects of gender and gender equality, so we wanted to raise awareness of the prevalence of transgender people in our society.”