Maggie Kerrigan, “Their Tender Hearts”

Maggie Kerrigan
Virginia Beach, VA

Their Tender Hearts
Altered book
180 x 180 x 180

Artist Statement

Would you be outraged if thousands of children suddenly went missing with no accounting for what happened to them? Would it be the same outrage if these children slowly went missing over the course of 100 years?

For nearly a century, a government sponsored program to assimilate Native American children took them from their home and sent them to Indian Boarding Schools. These children were stripped of their culture, language and heritage. Often, they suffered terrible abuse, neglect and malnutrition. It is unknown, exactly, how many of these children are unaccounted for, because it was rarely documented if a child ran away or died.

The book, This Tender Land, is a fictional story that illustrates the plight of the Native American Children who endured life in these schools. The books pages have been punctured with 65,000 holes to illustrate the sad voids left to their families. The holes have been reassembled inside the cover of the empty book, a mass grave of precious souls.