For Debi Knight Kennedy, the Fort Seward art project has taken on meaning that she hadn’t anticipated.
Kennedy is one of 17 Haines artists participating in one of the largest public art projects in the town’s history. The Alaska Arts Confluence’s Fort Seward Interpretive Project is funded by a grant from ArtsPlace America.
Kennedy is using found objects like moose antler, spruce wood, and a bird’s wing for her piece.
She’s creating a sculpture of a girl on a swing.
“I had this immediate vision of the girl on the swing. I was picturing this swing in Fort Seward…with a pretty girl in a beautiful dress,” Kennedy said.
Then a couple things happened that changed her idea. First, she found a face she had casted in clear glass years ago, with a ‘haunted look.’
“So the whole project shifted in my mind of doing a spirit of a girl on a swing.”
Then, she came across a picture of a young girl, scantily clad, on a swing.
“It just distressed me, coming from my own place of a feminist — that idea of young women being objectified.”
The piece went from something innocent, to something more complicated. Kennedy says it’s inspired by her own experiences, including abusive relationships and harassment.
Kennedy says those experiences inform this project.
“So the ability to stand up now for anything that I feel is a great feeling…With this piece, it’s just that combination of trying to express a sadness in her, and a freedom.”
Listen to Kennedy describe her work:
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