Mike Roig, Sculpture

Zahra's Whirled


Dedicated earlier this year to the memory of Zahra Baker, a young victim of child abuse and

neglect whose murder galvanized a community to heighten their efforts to create an environment

where that outcome will be less and less likely to ever happen again. The city had already bought the

sculpture intending to place it in another setting, but when the desire arose for a sculpture for this

park, and with the realization that pinwheels have come to symbolize the drive to end child abuse -

well it seemed a good fit.

At the dedication they asked me to say a few words, and I share them here:

I’d like to thank Brian Fraser, the City of Hickory, and all else who extended this invitation for my work to be a part of marking this beautiful park in memory of a lively little girl. Her brief life, so full of travail even without it’s tragic ending, nevertheless seemed to be remembered by many who knew her as enlivened by a sweet, playful spirit. Serendipity brought my sculpture to be placed here, and yet it seems an equally playful providence had a hand in making it an appropriate piece to honor Zahra’s memory.

The art speak term for a work of art such as this is kinetic sculpture. Using less sophisticated terminology it might call it a whirligig. Either way it takes a lot of inspiration from the child’s pinwheel that magically takes solid shapes and puts them in motion in the play of air. I hope it will always remind you of the pinwheels you have placed around the park today in honor of the common sense cause of making sure children’s lives are free of abuse and the fear it inspires, and instead are full of joy, and wonder, and examples of how to grow up gracefully.

We sculptors are often called upon to memorialize those that are gone with markers to honor people who were a meaningful part of their community. Zahra’s part was to bring into sharp focus how far afield adult concerns can be carried from compassion, and how necessary it is that we all cultivate the spirit of empathy, take pleasure in each other’s company, and support each other’s joy.

I myself am a long way from childhood, but I couldn’t do what I do without a bit of its spark alive and well within me. Zahra’s gift is to remind us how important it is to nurture youthful wonder in ourselves, and then to foster wonder in each new generation that comes.