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10,000 people carve personal messages into a giant table

Abir Ali

When you invite the public to carve messages into a giant table you've spent four months crafting by hand, the result is that a LOT of people take you up on it, and the end product looks something like this:

Professional and personal partners Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer are furniture makers based in Detroit. They built a 30-foot table, made from walnut trees from the Midwest. They took inspiration from the biblical story of the Last Supper, and they were especially moved by the story's themes of trust and forgiveness.

Here's Sandifer explaining why those themes resonated with him, and how they related to the tragic deaths of both his father and brother.

Last Supper Table - Andre Sandifer / Making from Iron Coast on Vimeo.

So they asked the public to carve a message about trust or forgiveness into the table, with the hopes of giving people a chance to get something off their chest. And many, many people did.

Credit Abir Ali
The table was housed at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, for Art Prize

The sheer volume of responses surprised and overwhelmed Ali, who says she knew people would be enthusiastic. But not quite THAT enthusiastic. (There are carvings on the underside of the table, on the side panels, and on the stools. Some people have even used their own tools to carve messages, and those tools harm the table.)

But at the end of the day she says she can't be mad, because the table is all about trust and forgiveness.

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a substitute host and producer at KNKX.
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