Cradle Making in Santa Cruz


This February, The Cradle Project opened for the first time in California at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH). The exhibit includes twenty-two cradles from the original 2008 installation, and new cradles made by Santa Cruz artists Wes Modes, Heidi Cramer, and Luke Wilson.

A man is seem through the wooden legs of a cradle

Wes Modes making a cradle. Photo credit: Santa Cruz MAH.

The MAH put their unique stamp on the exhibit with the interactivity and community participation they’re known and loved for in Santa Cruz. Outside the exhibit, an old door is used as a table where visitors make their own cradles from sticks and yarn. The idea is that visitors make a cradle to leave and take a cradle made by someone else, a giving concept that matches our values here at Firelight very well.

Read Cradles of Change in the Good Times Weekly to learn more about the Santa Cruz exhibit

 MAH wanted to give visitors the experience of learning more about how African communities are responding to the AIDS epidemic and Firelight’s work to support them so outside the exhibit materials from our grantee partners cover an entire wall. There are photo stories, a map of where our partners work, cardboard numbers our partners use to teach math to children, games, and doilies made from recycled potato chip bags that are sold for family income. The MAH has captured the true nature of African communities in a vibrant and hope-filled display.

Firelight Display at Santa Cruz MAH

Explore The Cradle Project Workshops on Flickr

On opening weekend, three artists led community cradle making workshops. Luke Wilson created the Nest Cradle, Wes Modes created a traditional cradle made from reclaimed materials, and Heidi Cramer made adobe cradles in heirloom seedbeds. Children, their parents, and many others contributed to cradles from station to station. The hall was filled with hammering, laughing and lots of creativity on a rainy day. Visitors also brought items from their childhood for a pop-up museum.

A sign that announces the pop up museum

A table with frames holding different objects related to play and childhood

The Cradle Project travels to different places to raise awareness about the impact of AIDS on children and families in Africa and the cradle of care communities provide in response. The MAH has created a real community around The Cradle Project, which has been very exciting.

Don’t Miss It
The Cradle Project is showing at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History from February 7 to March 23, 2014.

Coming Soon
In April, The Cradle Project will be shown in San Francisco at Alter Space. We are inviting artists to participate now. Cradles will be available for auction soon. For more information email

A cradle standing along with rocker legs and a next of decorated twigs.

The Nest Cradle, Luke Wilson. Photo credit: Santa Cruz MAH.

A wooden cradle with bottle caps and other items attached

Untitled Cradle, Wes Modes. Photo credit: Santa Cruz MAH.


a woman talks with two boys b a table with adobe cradles beside them.

Adobe cradles and seed beds, Heidi Cramer. Photo credit: Santa Cruz MAH.



Tagged as: HIV and AIDS