Rancho Santa Fe resident’s ‘Oneness’ art exhibit featured at San Diego International Airport

The "Oneness" exhibit at the San Diego International Airport.
(Kerry Soori McEachern)

Rancho Santa Fe artist Kerry Soori McEachern’s community collaborative art project “Oneness” has now arrived at the San Diego International Airport, sharing a positive message that the world is one united, compassionate and aware human family.

The project, done in partnership with MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism of San Diego, includes a typographic sculpture of the word “Oneness” partially covered in a rainbow of messages folded up into paper origami flowers. Each flower includes a person’s answer to the questions: “If you had the chance to make one lasting statement, what would you say?” and “If you could make the world a better place for all human family, what would your message be?”

In the immersive and interactive exhibit, visitors will be able to experience the artwork and be a part of it, sharing their own message.

Kerry Soori McEachern, fourth from right, with MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism volunteers.
(Kerry Soori McEachern)

The display is a part of the airport’s exhibition, “A Necessary Departure”, featuring work by local artists exploring how the events of the pandemic served as a catalyst for innovation and social change. The goal of this exhibit is “to create a conversation that acknowledges the pandemic as a societal anomaly while also highlighting the ways that artists and creative thinkers have contributed to positive change.”

The year-long exhibition of Oneness officially launched on Feb. 23, in the arrivals area of Terminal 2 at the airport, close to baggage claim if you’re heading toward Terminal 1. “It’s so colorful, it’s hard to miss it,” said McEachern.

McEachern was the creative director of the project but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of MTO volunteers in Los Angeles and San Diego. The MTO Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism is a global nonprofit organization and the teachings of the school bring the message of knowledge, love, peace, tranquility, and survival to the lives of the true seekers. The school’s students represent a cross-section of humanity, from all walks of life, different cultures and religions.

In addition to the Oneness sculpture, McEachern and her MTO volunteers carefully folded 2,800 origami flowers to create an installation suspended across the exhibit space. Two large screen TVs display all of the messages and a video of volunteers folding origami. They recorded music and a five-minute guided audio meditation that can be accessed on people’s phones, to help travelers find a moment of serenity and share their own message.

The interactive exhibit is meant to be a 20-minute process, a calming experience in what might be a stressful, harried time at the airport. Starting this week, McEachern will also lead workshops in the exhibit every other week, teaching people how to fold an origami flower.

The Oneness exhibit explores “A Necessary Departure” theme by highlighting MTO’s COVID relief efforts, their ongoing global charity work and allowing guests to participate in the activities that promote unity and harmony.

In addition to making its debut last year at the Encinitas Community Center, the Oneness sculpture also appeared at last year’s Getty Museum 25th anniversary celebration.

To complete the sculpture, McEachern collected over 900 messages from September 2021 to April 2022 that were then folded up into flowers. Each message touched her personally, “wonderful jewels of hope, peace and unity.”

Her goal is for all sides to be fully covered, which will take about 3,000 messages and 3,000 unique voices. At an airport that serves over two million passengers a month, the project will now reach its most diverse audience yet.

“I”m really excited to see what comes out of it,” McEachern said.