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Artist, Cat Whisperer, and Partner

By Lairen Brush

Walking around Casper College, students, staff, and faculty may be able to identify origami birds surrounding the halls, hidden on bookshelves, or hanging out under a computer monitor. They could depict a crime scene surrounded by onlookers or isolated all alone. These cranes originate from Nadine Francisco, an art major at Casper College.

Francisco grew up in Casper after their grandma gained custody of them from their biological mother. Francisco considers this grandma to be their mom and refers to her as such.  While growing up, their mom supported them and their creativity, especially when Francisco wanted to help make cranes for an event without any previous experience.

Origami is not a natural talent for Francisco.  

“I learned how to make cranes when The Nicolaysen did the 1001 cranes,” Francisco said. “There were only four participants. I was one of the four.”  

The only reason they participated in the event was because they had nothing else going on at the time. 

“I’m a little kid that wants to help,” Francisco said, “I’m bored.”  

However, this one-time event participation continued to grow with time.

“In high school, I would make cranes and hide them,” Francisco said. “I didn’t do this proportions of it. I did like one or two, maybe, and hid them around and people liked them.” 

“That’s how they express themselves,” Francisco’s partner, Haden Schell, said. “It’s definitely one of their ways to cope with their depressive episodes.”  

Mental health can lead to non-productivity and isolation.  Francisco uses crane making and hiding to keep busy and to keep from falling deeper into depression.  However, this is not the only reason they continue to make cranes.

Francisco stated that they struggle with many things, including having autistic traits and ADHD. As a result, classroom settings are difficult for them and they utilize many aids to assist themselves, such as making and hiding the cranes.  

“I am unable to do full-time as a student because I get too overwhelmed. Then I do poorly in classes,” Francisco said. 

Cranes are used as a fidget accommodation in classes for Francisco. This accommodation is for an ADHD diagnosis. Sometimes keeping your hands busy helps to focus on listening.  They then place them around campus.  

Francisco also gains support from real life animals.  Francisco and Schell own two cats: Husk and Grums. Husk is a cat the couple got mid-COVID to help Nadine.

“We were just going through the list of names, and we hit one, and he just perked right up,” Haden said.  

They originally wanted to name the cat Alastair; however, the cat had a different idea.

“We call her the cat whisper because everywhere we go, we’ve got a little cat following us!” Schell said.

“She can be very romantic,” Schell said, “Definitely the sweetest person I’ve ever met.”

She uses her art skill in many ways, not just for the cranes. Schell and Francisco have been going to the Comic-Con here in Casper for a while now. Francisco has made many of the costumes they wear. The costumes don’t always stay together, but progress is still being made.

“[Schell’s] stayed together longer than mine,” Francisco said “My mask kept breaking, but the fabric was fine. It was the first costume I’ve ever made.”

Francisco plans to wrap up her art degree within the next two years. She plans to sell her art as a business venture, but progress is progress.

“I don’t know how to do it, so I’m learning slowly,” Francisco said.

She does have hopes for the future and this journey with her art.

“Once I’m done with college, I’ll hopefully try making myself better as an artist,” Francisco said.

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