Cairn Project

Cairn Project

cairn project logo

The Cairn Project was launched by Corinne D. Peterson, local clay sculptor and teacher at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. Marsha Baker, artist, occupational therapist and infant mental health specialist, co-directs the project.

Participants in the Cairn Project attend Shaping Clay, Shaping Life workshops. They shape stoneware rocks to honor their feelings of personal pain and loss. They create white porcelain tokens to celebrate their inner beauty and light. Later, a touch of gold is added to symbolize hope.

For the installations, workshop participants’ individual rocks are stacked to form a memorial cairn holding the weight of personal and human trauma. The tokens of light are suspended closely together to form a luminous cloud over the cairn. Together, the dark and light clay pieces transform individual experiences of loss and hope into a collective expression of healing.

In 2015 and 2016, The Cairn Project will conduct up to 80 Shaping Clay, Shaping Life workshops with diverse populations. Each installation, called Cairn and Cloud: collective expression of trauma and hope, grows larger, as it includes all work created so far.   


What participants say about the Cairn Project

“It feels good to be part of this overall art piece. I feel it will continue to live on. My work will be cared for and honored among all these others.”

“The ability to quiet myself and reflect in a supportive energetic atmosphere, and move my thought through my hands into the clay…it was a therapeutic release. Thank you!!”

“…this experience taught me something I didn’t expect to learn…I need more opportunities like this in my life.”

“Me ayudo mucho para sacar mis emociones. Tengo mas tranquilidad en mi persona.” (It helped me very much in bringing out my emotions. I have more tranquility within my person)

“It felt so good to … give the journey of pain a place in the physical world instead of being buried deep inside…. to let it out….to feel it… to allow it space in the moment….. to grieve it…to give it an identity.”