Andrea Nelson calls the burnt-out Fort Seward barracks a “beautiful deterioration.”
Nelson is the art director for Alaska Arts Confluence’s Fort Seward Sculpture Garden, in the burnt-out barracks. The project will feature installations from 17 Haines artists. Nelson is also one of those commissioned artists.
She walks through the barracks, where greenery has sprung up around the man-made ruins over the years.
“Nature’s encroaching, the walls are crumbling. So you have a site where you have rubble, and nature, and a bit of our history all kind of mixed up.”
Nelson is using rubble from the barracks for her piece. There are rusted heating pipes, pieces of porcelain from sinks or toilets, and her favorite — ornamental radiator panels.
She plans to take the rubble and install it on one of the barracks’ cement walls. It’ll be installed in layers inspried by her work as an archaeologist.
“In archaeology when you dig, you encounter stratigraphy in the soil. Those layors sort of put a chronology in time. So for my project here, I’m gathering a lot of the scrap metal that’s in the ruins…and I’m going to be assembling them on the wall in waves that resemble stratigraphy.”
Nelson says she likes this project because it utilizes the ruins in a way that doesn’t totally alter the space, but beautifies it.
“We’re not building a new structure or tearing anything down. We’re just bringing out a beauty that already exists and adding our own creative endeavors to it.”
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