Stone Mancala Table

Kate Graves, American, born 1970
George Scherer, American, born 1949
David Robinson, American, born 1953

Stone Mancala Table, 2006

Concrete, Indiana limestone, White cedar
Princeton University

Stone Mancala Table was first installed in Quark Park, a 2006 science-themed sculpture park in Princeton that was a collaboration among artists, scientists, and landscape architects. For the park, sculptor Kate Graves created this work in response to Professor George W. Scherer’s research into coatings for stone—developed to prevent internal pressure caused by salt crystallization, which leads to delamination or disaggregation over time. Graves carved an African board game, mancala, into a tabletop that spanned two legs, which were submerged in a salt solution; only one leg was treated with a protective coating. The original limestone legs wicked the water and salt thoroughly, efflorescing visibly in the uncoated areas. The game kept people seated at the site, allowing the process of entropy to be more fully considered. Both legs have been replaced for this installation, reversing the original concept of engineered destruction.