Cairns, the piles of stone on trails, serve as waypoints, but their more ancient use were as monuments or memorials. I became interested in these forms for both reasons, and this series reflects what our society uses as waypoints and directional and the resulting consequences. They are also memorials to those who become crushed by our values. The “Saved More, Lived Better” pieces are not only pointed at corporate injustice and greed, but also at the impact of our individual decisions. This idea occurred to me when I was filling up my car from the pumps at a big box store while contemplating my consumerism.
A couple of pieces in the cairn series are my memorials to people I met while studying in Kenya in the mid 1970’s. These people hosted me, taught me, robbed me, sang to me, offered to marry me, fed me and protected me. The children are grown and I wonder if they prospered, or did they become victims of warfare and corruption. Did Kadara, the respected Islamic elder and philosopher who housed a group of American students, become part of the Islamic militancy on the East Kenyan coast, or did he become a voice of moderation? Did Jailani save enough money to marry and did he remain traditional or become extreme? Did Skanda put to good use the money he stole? How did Nure, the vivacious young teen who wore bright mini-dresses under her bui-bui, fare as a woman? Did Alice, who was puzzled that American women weren’t circumcised end up circumcising her daughter, Gladys? Did Mwanemwende’s children reach adulthood and do they serve irio or Coke?