Commissioned by the Office for the Arts at Harvard University, Deep Wounds is a large-scale, interactive installation that uses the campus's historic Memorial Hall to explore unfinished healing and reconciliation
Built between 1870 and 1878, Memorial Hall honors the Harvard graduates who died in the Civil War while fighting for the Union. Names and other details about these men are permanently inscribed in the marble walls. Harvard graduates who died for the Confederacy are prohibited from being named. This discrepancy has caused controversy at Harvard and beyond.
Deep Wounds projects a luminous light on the white-marble floor of the hall. Looking closely, visitors see hints of inscribed text. As they walk across these areas, the luminous skin blisters and opens to reveal descriptions of the graduates who died fighting for the Confederacy. Each man's year of graduation, state, date of death and battle of death are projected onto the floor. Instead of a name, however, there is a relationship such as ‘father’ or ‘classmate’ that describes a family relationship each man had or a relationship he had to schoolmates on the wall. After the uncovering, the skin mends itself, covering the names once again.
The Confederate men are arranged on the floor facing or close to Union men from the same Harvard graduation year. The Union words are etched in red and the Confederate words are written in blue.
Deep Wounds has won awards from Ars Electronica, the International Association of Art Critics, and Americans for the Arts, who selected it as one of the best public-art projects of 2007