Sticks, Stones & Sunder

5 room installation created in an abandoned school house in playful collaboration with children from Jetpur Village, Rajasthan, India during Kaman Art Foundation's Sowing Seeds Residency, Dec 2012-Jan 2013. 

One young girl who participated stated “This place was once scary, but its not anymore.”   in 2013, not quite yet able to clarify my own experience in essay form, I wrote a poem in response.  It is found below.

Sunder (or Sundar) in Hindi means beautiful. 

Sticks, Stones, and Sunder
Stacy Isenbarger

Warmth—skin blue.
Myself surfaced
acting as curtain
to more earthly lights,
tapped out in song
in swirling dirt drifts
among the headlights.

The distance between
here and there, a loss celebrated
in the blue of Shiva. Celestial
silhouettes laid out in unison.
Sunder. Beautiful. Distributed
in equal exchange.


facade: projected dominance
icons: vulnerable to misreading


An act can be a question, a purpose—art
when traced, lines on a surface
become vessels formulated
for meaning. Transcribed they
become difference. Lost
to translation, a connection grasped.
Joining in celebration, we dance.


facade: structure of acknowledgment
language: vulnerable to neglect


When you place its sharp edges
amongst the stones of a riverbed
it softens as a pillow
yet has no give. A net
offering as blanket
cast out to comfort, foreshadowing
its destination.

Take it with you,
Lift it out of the blessed waters
Carry it गृह. (translation: home)


facade: barrier between beings
materials: vulnerable to change


Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will कभी hurt me.
You said they wouldn’t
get it. I said
I know (translation: never)

Distance traveled in expectation.
stones left behind
not as expressions of mourning,
instead, protection ahead of time.


facade: reveals itself with labels
skin: contrived amongst school walls


In a five-part beat, I accept my
place dripping new shades of red-
brown through my extensions,
blue pooling at my feet.

Tribhuj. Triangle. Together
a reformed star,
bearing equal measure.
Satyam Shivam Sunderam.       Beautiful.


Welcoming shifts in
(mis)understanding, entry extends
from one space
to another and holds.
Collisions, noticed
become natural.
Cracks necessary.
and strong.

More images from week long process here.

(c) Stacy Isenbarger 2022