Cairn and Cloud: a collective expression of trauma and healing for new installation at Zhou B. Art Center

Cairn and Cloud, a new installation by clay artist and muralist Corinne D. Peterson with more than 100 collaborators, will be presented to the public at an opening reception from 7-10 pm on Friday, May 15th, in the 2nd floor gallery of the Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 W. 35th St. in Chicago.

The base of the artwork is made from more than 100 hand-carved stoneware clay, grapefruit-size “rocks” piled in the shape of an ancient burial cairn. Hanging on barely visible threads from the 12-foot-high ceiling are 100 small white porcelain shapes to form a “cloud of light” hovering over the dark cairn.

The rocks and cloud pieces were carved and shaped by more than 100 adults, teenagers and children who participated in Shaping Clay, Shaping Life workshops led by Peterson and her project partner, Marsha Baker, an occupational therapist and child development specialist.

“The workshop participants shaped and textured the clay rocks to incorporate their memories of trauma and loss, and then created the porcelain shapes to represent their inner beauty and hope,” Peterson said. “Viewed together, the dark colored rocks and white cloud stand as a metaphor for transformation of the individuals’ experiences of loss into a collective expression of healing,” she added.  To honor their similar experiences and solidarity, many of the workshop participants also volunteered to help assemble the installation.

Other contributors include artist Dana Major, who will illuminate the cairn and cloud to highlight their significance, and modern dancer Sara Gottlieb. She and members of her Body Compass Dance Project will respond to the Cairn and Cloud with a dance performance at the opening reception.  Other contributors are Sonata Kazimieraitiene, exhibit and materials design; John Baker and Taylor Wallace, cloud installation; Carroll Cradock, Maria Paz, Colleen Ostrander and Erica Huntzinger, co-facilitators; Vanessa Lopez, Casey Lin, Nicole Rabideau, Stephanie Contrares and Frances Way, interns; Bruce Robbins, supplier of clay, kilns, and space for workshops; ArtReach at Lillstreet, fundraising, workshop connections, and consultation; and the many individuals and agencies who have hosted or helped organize workshops.

The Cairn and Cloud  installation is part of a group show, “Seductive Materials”,  curated by Sergio Gomez. The show is scheduled to run until June 14th.

On Saturday, May 16 at 1-2:30 pm, a special Shaping Clay, Shaping Life workshop for children will take place at Oh Art Foundation on the 4th floor of the Zhou B. Art Center.