Burden Boat Project invites participants to symbolically release burdens

Burden Boat Project

Burden Boat Project

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 17, 2009 – The Perspective Gallery in Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech campus is hosting a interactive art project and exhibit, called the Burden Boat Project, this fall.

The Burden Boat Project is a participatory part of a sculpture exhibition by artist Kurt Ernest Steger. The exhibit, “Primal States and Portals: Sculpture by Kurt Steger,” is on display at the Perspective Gallery through Oct. 10.

The project will culminate in a symbolic burning and burying ceremony Sunday, Oct. 4, beginning at the gallery at 2:30 p.m. The university and community are invited to take part. The exhibit and event are free of charge and open to the public.

The Burden Boat is a 12-foot sculpture created as a container to hold paper notes of burdens that participants would like to symbolically release. From now through Saturday, Oct. 3, people are invited to send or e-mail their written personal burdens to the artist, or come by the exhibit to place burdens in the boat. The notes will be anonymously and respectfully crumpled and placed into the boat for cremation by fire. A series of burden bags will hold the collective burdens we all share. The bags will be released by fire during the same ceremony and buried. All burdens will remain anonymous.

Steger, who recently moved from California to Virginia, said the Burden Boat Project has special significance at Virginia Tech because the impact of the April 16 tragedy is still felt by many. “When invited to show at [Virginia Tech] I knew right away I wanted to do something with a healing element. I feel sharing our burdens in this symbolic way brings us together, creates connection, communication, and a sense of community,” said Steger.

When planning the exhibit and event, Steger met with Jerzy Nowak, founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention. “The peace center is what was born from the tragic event at [Virginia Tech],” said Steger. “I honor such a manifestation as the flowering of those that lost their precious lives that day. The works of the peace center will bring benefits beyond what we can know into future generations, which gives deep meaning and purpose to those struck by the grief of such loss, and to ensure that those who passed did not die in vain.”

Steger’s works often have a healing or transformational quality. He has staged shows that have coincided with tragic events such as Sept. 11, 2001 and the United States entry into the Iraq war. “I am hoping for all and anyone to participate in this offering of their burdens,” said Steger. “My wish is for the message to spread through a range of healing groups, from 12-step programs to hospice, churches, and people on the streets. This is open to any anyone who has a burden to release -- which is everyone. I feel the project is much more than just an art show. It has the potential to be a moving and transformational exhibition.”

Everyone is invited to participate by sending in their burdens and forwarding the information about the project to organizations or individuals who may be interested in being involved.

Burdens should be sent to The Burden Boat Project, c/o Kurt Steger at 244 Ivy Dr. NE, Floyd, VA 24091. Burdens may also be e-mailed to Steger.

The Perspective Gallery, located on the second floor of Squires Student Center, is free and open to the public. For more information on the Perspective Gallery, call gallery director Mary Tartaro at (540) 231-4053. The Perspective Gallery is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m.; Friday noon to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday, but will be open Sunday, Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m. as the gathering place for the Burden Boat Project ceremony.

With a visitor’s pass, parking is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, or the Shultz Hall Lot, located off Alumni Drive near the North Main Street campus entrance. Parking meters within the Squires Lot will need to be paid. A visitor’s pass may be obtained Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Visitor Information Center, located on Southgate Drive.

Free parking after 5 p.m. is available in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, or the Shultz Hall Lot, located off Alumni Drive near the North Main Street campus entrance. Find more parking information online or call (540) 231-3200.

The Burden Boat Project and the exhibit “Primal States and Portals: Sculpture by Kurt Steger” are sponsored by Virginia Tech’s University Unions and Student Activities. University Unions and Student Activities, a unit within the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, complements the academic program by providing a variety of activities, educational opportunities, programs, facilities, and services that enhance student development and enrich the quality of campus life at Virginia Tech.