A Levittown teenager’s essay about artwork she created in tribute to a girl who contracted leukemia after the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima won first place in a contest designed to promote awareness and understanding of Japan.
Jean Mahn, 18, a senior at Division Avenue High School, took the Best Essay Award in the high school division of the competition, sponsored by Canon USA and Stony Brook University’s Japan Center. She received a $3,000 scholarship and a Canon camera.
In her essay, Mahn described making the sculpture that she entered in “Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum” in 2015. The free-standing sculpture, which honors Sadako Sasaki, features scores of paper cranes, suspended as if in flight.
Japanese culture states that a wish will be granted if one folds 1,000 paper cranes. Sadako, whose wish was for world peace, died at age 12 after making 644 cranes.
“In honor of her wish, I created a work so large and symbolic that it was able to represent the magnitude of selflessness in her soul,” Mahn wrote.
Mahn also got a special award from the Consulate General of Japan and was invited to the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Manhattan.
She is president of her school’s Art Club and a member of the Art Honor Society, National Honor Society and Key Club.