From the Editors
Are we just origami?
The beauty of a blank sheet of paper is that it can become anything. It can carry the weight of words, the impact of images, or even take on new dimensions of its own. The right hands can transform something flat and characterless into something stunningly defined. Just a careful series of folds and that nondescript piece of paper has form and even function, using itself as its own foundation.
Origami as we know it is not even a century old, but follow the creases to its points of origin and you end up in both Europe (elaborate napkin-folding was popular amongst the aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries) and Japan (a folded paper butterfly is mentioned in a late 1600s poem — paper folding as a sacred rite likely transpired 1,000 years before that). Eastern and Western traditions fused together as globalization took hold, and origami today goes far beyond paper planes and paper cranes. Full-sized vehicles, elephants, and even avant garde apparel have been fashioned out of naught but folded sheets of paper.
While that's all impressive, in Erie we're especially fascinated by Tiny Paper Boats — and why wouldn't we be? After all, it is a full-sized band — Erie's Best New Band according to the 2019 Best of Erie vote, in fact. Although they're new as a collective, the individual members' personal and professional histories overlap and interfold almost as elaborately as the origami vessels they bring along to their shows. Musically, each contributes a layer of sound that neatly nestles into the next, creating a graceful indie rock sculpture. Sometimes things just come together.
More often though, they do not. Musicians (Tyler James, aka Nice Ghost), dietitians (UPMC Hamot's Emily Compton), and entrepreneurs (Werkbot's Brian Amick and Jay Richardson) could all attest to that (and are all profiled in this issue). So many new year's resolutions, new projects, and new pursuits end up more like crumpled paper balls — frustrating false starts that are scrapped and tossed in the trash. Not every piece of paper ends up a swan or water lily just as not every axe hits its target (check out Erie Axe Throwing).
Sometimes, things turn out just plain ugly. Deposed Erie Art Museum director Josh Helmer had the opportunity to add exciting new pages to the esteemed institution's collection — but instead he added more pages to national media reports about a leading man's disturbing behavior and abuse of power. These are pages frayed and dogeared from being so frequently revisited, and would benefit from being trashed altogether.
Erie's legacy deserves better curation, and we all fit into that narrative — regardless of race, religion, economic status, or gender identity (see Dan Schank's thoughtful look into our transgender and gender-expansive community). What's next is a blank sheet of paper. Let's bring our edges inward while pushing ourselves outward and watch this thing blossom.