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These cairns, born in fire and light, represent accomplishments, knowledge and experience gained, difficulties overcome, sanctuary and guidance for pathways yet to be traveled.
Cairns, man made piles of stones, have an ancient history dating back to the Bronze Age. Important markers in many societies, cairns have served to guide travelers, memorialize the departed and commemorate events, both significant and trivial. Hikers add stones to cairns on mountain tops to mark their conquering the summit. The custom may have originated in Scotland where it is traditional to carry a stone from the bottom of a hill to place on the cairn at the top. Stupas in India and Tibet probably began as simple piles of stones and now mark the resting places of Buddhist saints and Lamas. In Scandinavia, cairns, often painted white for visibility, are used to guide sailors into safe harbors.
Whether commemorating an achievement, hoping to guide someone in the right direction or protecting and sanctifying the remains of what has passed, cairns have held deep significance for millennia.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Melanie Guernsey Leppla has been working professionally with glass since graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in 1986. Her professional career includes shows internationally as well as across the United States. Honors include two fellowship grants from The Creative Glass Center of America and a fellowship grant from the New Jersey Counsel for the Arts. Her work is included in the Museum of American Craft and the Museum of American Glass as well as numerous important private collections.
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