"I felt a mysterious and profound connection with Cranes even before I began painting them. I knew I had to paint all 15 species. In 1991 I made a pilgrimage to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, to observe the species in their environment. There I was granted the great honor to enter into the Cranes enclosures and observe their behavior over an extended period."
     – Clare Cooley



Cranes, being large birds that fly great distances and nest in wetlands, reveal early biological indicators of environmental imbalances that impact the well being of all life on the planet. I have chosen the crane as a symbol of unity for my work. My hope is that by sharing my respect for all wildlife, including these magnificent beings, serenity and survival will be enhanced for all life on earth.

"For sixty million years, cranes have flown over every continent except South America and Antarctica. They flew over the dinosaurs and still fly over the Himalayas. Cranes can fly at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet and can migrate over 5,000 miles. If they could speak, what stories would they tell?"
    – Clare Cooley,
    The Book of Cranes
The crane is one of nature’s most elegant and awe-inspiring creatures. It is a cherished spiritual symbol of strength and harmony. The graceful movements of cranes, whether standing still in a snowy marsh or soaring high above the Himalayas, have inspired dancers, painters, poets, and martial artists since the beginning of humanity. In our time cranes are a globally recognized symbol of peace and cooperation, representing the crest of a new wave of consciousness. The crane’s graceful movements and powerful sounds make its beauty easy to appreciate. Clare Cooley has chosen the crane as the symbol most associated with her art. She has dedicated her life to promoting an awareness of cranes because she believes, as do biologists, that they are a barometer of the well being of the planet because they are the first species to exhibit the telltale signs of environmental imbalance that threaten the survival of all other species. Clare
Cooley believes that, by assuming responsibility for protecting these magnificent creatures, we enhance our own harmony and longevity and that of the earth.

Cranes are among nature’s most magnificent creatures. The 15 species of cranes vary widely in color and size. The smallest is the petite ballerina-like Demoiselle, standing less than three feet tall with soft gray feathers, black neck and head, and a delicate white plume behind its eye. The tallest of all flying birds, the stately Siberian Crane, can be more than six feet tall with stark white body and red head. At the age of 65, it can still be fertile. The Black-Crowned Cranes have golden crowns and bronze feathers, while the Stanley Crane has feathers of teal blue. Cranes fly the skies beyond our view, over the Himalayas, traversing distances of thousands of miles on their migrations.

Cranes have been a significant part of the folklore of many cultures. They are majestic creatures that have been examples of strength and beauty to humanity since our beginning. Cranes were painted in both the caves of Lascaux and Egyptian tombs. The Greek alphabet was believed to have been derived by the god Mercury from the flight of cranes. The word “consent” comes from the Greek word for cranes, because they are considered to have such an agreeable life. If a person lived their life in a singular and consistent manner, they were compared to a crane. Although many birds change color with age, the crane remains much the same in appearance throughout its life. One of the three sacred treasures of Japan is a special mirror, on the back of which is cranes, a pine tree, and a tortoise. Embroidered into their wedding kimono is the crane, representing fidelity. The Red-Crowned Crane is the Japanese symbol of happiness and longevity. The athletic
"My hope is that by portraying this magnificent wildlife others will be inspired to help protect and ensure the survival of cranes, and all other species, including humans."
    – Clare Cooley
prowess of the cranes’ movements is breathtaking. The grace and expressiveness of cranes are a source of inspiration for many dance movements, primitive to modern, ballet to jazz. Master Zhu leads a healing discipline in Beijing, China that bases all its movements on those of the crane. The cranes’ song is strong and evocative, and can be heard from a mile away. A flock of a thousand is an orchestra unparalleled. The Chinese believe that the soul of an enlightened being is carried on the back of a crane to the “Heaven of the Highest Clarity.”

Cranes, as sentinels, guard all species’ survival. Birds are the first to perish when an ecosystem is imbalanced, and cranes, largest of all flying birds, would become extinct first. Marshes that support the cranes’ life provide our water during dry periods, filter out pollutants, and soak up potential floodwaters. Establishing the cranes’ survival contributes to the survival of all life forms. Cranes are called the indicator species by biologists, because all other species follow the cranes’ decline. They are a stunningly beautiful focal point of environmental health. Their majestic presence inspires people and governments globally to communicate and cooperate on their behalf.




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Copyright © 2012 Clare Cooley. All rights reserved.