Airplanes to Artistry

Images provided by author. Top: Hua Chieu.

Unlike many of the artists at Washington High School that this paper has featured in the past, what Hua Chieu works on is not part of a class at Washington. With small pieces of paper, Chieu makes a variety of shapes and objects, but appears to have a preference for stars.

As Chieu describes it, origami is “a Japanese paper folding method.” Although the word origami has come to describe a more broad range of styles, Chieu focuses mostly on static items. When he arrived for this interview, he brought a small bag he made out of paper, containing many smaller items he also made out of paper, including a heart, two large stars, a bookmark, a fish, and roughly 40 smaller stars.

Origami made by Hua
1000 paper cranes made by Hua.

Chieu first started folding paper as something to do for fun, saying, “back in the time [when] we didn’t have phones, we started to make airplanes and compete with my cousins.” Since then, he continued doing origami for entertainment, although he does not meet with his cousins as often as in the past. He gets his inspiration from videos he has seen on YouTube. When asked if there were any channels in particular he would look at often, he gave the name of Jo Nakashia.

 For the most part, his academic life has stayed separate from origami. He is not currently enrolled in an art class, and the ones he did take were not related to origami. However, his work can occasionally be seen on campus. When asked if there is any overlap between school and origami, he said, “last year I made like one thousand paper cranes for Ms. Quezada for fun.” Quezada plans to display the cranes in a clear jar: “We were studying World War 2 and talking about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and I just told them about the story of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes. She was a 10 year old girl that came down with Leukemia and heard a folktale that said if you fold 1000 paper cranes you get a wish granted, so she tried to get a wish,” said Quezada. The cranes are currently stored in a cardboard box located inside room E121.

Origami is not all he can do. On occasion, he does artwork in other forms for his classes. During an interview, Chieu showed The Hatchet an assignment for his anatomy class. Although incomplete, the piece featured many small shapes arranged in a pattern similar to that of cells under a microscope. Small rectangular windows featured descriptions of types of connective and muscle tissues.

Recently, Washington has formed its own origami club. When asked about the existence of this club, Chieu expressed that he was not aware of the club’s existence, but was interested in attending one of their meetings. 

While Chieu has shown passion in the art of origami, he does not show an intention in continuing to a more serious level. Chieu explains that to him, origami is, “something I’m interested in, but not committed to.”

On campus, origami has started to receive some attention. As stated earlier, an origami club has formed on campus, having biweekly meetings on Wednesday, located in room E121. The club has a decent attendance rate and a strong community within it. For anyone interested in meeting Chieu in person, it may be possible to find him at one of the meetings.