The Birth of The Burden Boat Project

The Burden Boat Project

In response to the regional trauma of the Virginia Tech campus massacre in 2007, artist Kurt Ernest Steger created The Burden Boat Project, designed to be an interactive invitation to symbolically release burdens. This sculptural project was part of a larger show of the artist’s work at the Perspectives Gallery in Squires Hall on the Virginia Tech campus in 2009.

The Burden Boat is a twelve-foot long sculpture created to be a container to hold paper notes of burdens that people would like to symbolically release. During the 2009 show, people were invited to send or mail their written personal burdens to the artist. The notes then were anonymously and respectfully crumpled and placed into the boat for cremation by fire by the artist. The second aspect of the project was a series of burden bags; these were intended to hold the collective burdens we all share. In a public ceremony Kurt Steger invited the community to come and participate in a ritual of burning and burying the burdens. The burdens were released by fire during the ceremony, then were dropped into the earth and buried.

Throughout The Burden Boat Project individuals were prompted to intimately participate in public a community-wide healing process. The Burden Boat Project serves to promote public awareness of the community-based process of communication and healing in the wake of suffering.  Through the ceremonial release of psychological and emotional burdens, artist Kurt Steger hopes to regenerate community hope in a peaceful future.

Please pass this invitation to anyone or any organization that may be interested in participating in this ongoing traveling project.


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