PROFILE

:: Watanoha Smile: a non-profit organization
Representative: INUGAI Tomo
Associate Representative: TADA Satoshi

CONTACT:inugaitomo@gmail.com

We work for the benefit of the children at Watanoha Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture. The school suffered heavy damage in the Tohoku Earthquake. From late March through mid-October in 2011, we volunteered at an evacuation center in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.
Our work took place at the evacuation center at Watanoha Elementary School, and it consisted of making a space for play in the evacuation center, and playing with the children there.
Now the evacuation center at Watanoha Elementary School has beenclosed, but we’re still playing with the children in the Watanoha area.

As a part of this activity, we made some artworks from the fragments (wreckage) of the town that were washed into the playground at Watanoha Elementary School. As a part of this activity, we made some artworks from the fragments (wreckage) of the town that were washed into the playground at Watanoha Elementary School. Lumps of sadness were reborn into happy sculptures through the children’s power.

About twenty children at Watanoha Elementary School Evacuation Center made about one hundred artworks. Throughout the workshop, we were moved by the imagination and strength of the children。These works have been titled “Watanoha Smile”, and are currently being exhibited in galleries and at events around the country. We set out donation boxes at the exhibitions, and donate the entire sum we collect to Watanoha Elementary School.

My name is Inukai Tomo, and my regular work as an artist is making sculptures out of driftwood. I had done several driftwood sculpture workshops with children before the disaster. My work is to create smiles out of things that people no longer need. I used this workshop that I’d done before with the children at Watanoha Elementary School.

There were two reasons that I wanted to carry out this project.

One reason is that I thought that the strong children at Watanoha Elementary School and the works that they created would bring people hope and smiles. As I looked at the sculptures that the children made, I felt sure that they would become symbols of recovery.

The other reason is that people say that it will cost a vast amount of money to dispose of the rubble and garbage from the disaster, and I felt it was necessary to bring something forth out of all that wreckage. The things that the children made are no longer wreckage,but have been reborn as something precious.

I want to share the deep emotion and the smiles with all the people who come in contact with these works, this wreckage that has been reborn as a symbol of recovery. The Watanoha Smile Project was born from that hope.