‘Paper-Punk-a-Thon’ Unfolds at TEDActive

(Photo courtesy Grace Hawthorne)

It’s TED time, and among the attractions at TEDActive, the parallel event taking place this week in Palm Springs, is “Paper-Punk-a-thon” (pictured), a 25-foot-long installation by Paper Punk founder Grace Hawthorne. We asked the ReadyMade veteran–an entrepreneur, artist, author, and educator who heads up the Creative Gym course at Stanford’s d.school–to tell us more about the interactive project as it unfolds.

What is a “Paper-Punk-a-Thon”?
An all-you-can-fold buffet of Paper Punk shapes. Attendees feast on a limitless assortment of shapes, patterns, and colors, and fold to their heart’s content.

What did you create for the installation?
I made three large anchor panels out of hollow paper blocks to kick things off. Attendees are populating the other nine smaller provided panels with paper block creation that expresses an assigned word.

How have TEDActive attendees responded to your installation?
Enthusiastically! They get to make something with their hands and share it with each other by putting it up on this progressive/collaborative wall. Some of their creations have blown me away.

One wonderful lady told me a story about how her grandmother made a mandala on their doorstep every morning out of rice powder in India. These mandalas are a daily ritual that keeps evil spirits away. So she assembled a little paper block step and drew a mandala on it, glued it to the panel for “up,” and said before she left, “You cannot climb without blessings.” So much learning and reflection happens when people view others’ work…so many wonderful stories in each little creation.

Besides this project, what has been your favorite part of TEDActive so far?
This is my first time attending TEDActive, and I am blown away at the energy of the group here. It’s an astounding alchemy of passionate, open, curious, driven, and kind people from all over the world who want to get busy. I’ve never been at a gathering like this before. It’s quite special.