Localize It: 100 stones that healed 100 Alaskans’ hearts

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Sarah Davies moved from New York City to Anchorage around six years ago, and has called this state home ever since. She is a full time biology teacher, but art has always been apart of her life in a way that compels her to always keep it a priority. Davies has worked on other projects in the past, however, none of which were produced at the scale that 100 Stone was.

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“I’ve always made things, made art, and have always had this compulsion towards a creative outlet. Until this project, I never really considered myself an artist though,” Davies said.

The project began around three years ago, when Davies was approached to pitch an idea for an art project that would receive funding from a grant. Davies knew she wanted to explore the darkness that exists around and inside of many Alaskans, and elaborate on the affects of that statewide.

“I knew I had to tell truths from not just myself, and not just Anchorage. I needed to reach out as far as I could, in all areas of this state,” Davies said. “My team and I drove the entire loop of the road system with a U-haul and a trailer full of supplies, and found people to cast in each town along the way. I also flew to Bethel, Juneau, and Sitka to cast a few people’s bodies as well,” Davies said.

Davies then narrowed down her idea and came up with the 100 Stone project. In this project, she would cast the bodies of nearly 100 Alaskans, living in towns all across the state. Davies wanted to find Alaskans who had gone through some trouble in their lives, people who had darkness inside of them, and felt pain. This was quite the challenge, but Davies and her team were up for it, and once her grant was approved, they began.

“I started looking around at the environment I lived in, which was one filled with depression. It was a stark, dark, hiding place, but I saw that I wasn’t alone. When I saw how many people were there with me in that place, I thought that maybe we all want to speak our truth about what it means to live in this place,” Davies said.

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The process of finding people to cast, and open up to them, was not an easy process for anyone. It required finding one person to be willing to talk about what has caused pain in their lives, how it has effected them, and then allowing Sarah and her team to cast their body as they told their story. All of these people wanted to be apart of Sarah’s project, but that also mean reliving a bad experience. Nonetheless, Sarah found around 95 Alaskans to take part in this experience, and at the end of the sculpting, 85 statues were ready.

The 100 Stone project was completed by November of 2015, and were set to be put on display at Point Woronzof, a park well known and visited by Anchorage residents. Davies wanted her work not only to be displayed in a place that would reach a multitude of viewers, but also somewhere that had an atmosphere that suited what message Davies wanted to relay.

“We decided on Point Woronzof because of its rocky, gravel substrate that no one (sculpture) could sink into. It was also important that we had a place that created a sense of vulnerability, that aesthetically looked dangerous, as well as cold and lonely,” Davies said.

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Sarah Davies's 100 Stone Project has moved from Point Woronzoff where it was installed last year to the front lawns of Alaska Pacific University. Photo credit: Young Kim

“That was the visual message I wanted to send out: We are cold in here, we are alone in here, and we need you to see that this place exists,” Davies said.

Sarah’s message was heard quite loud by the people of Alaska, and many drove to Point Woronzof to see her project. She was able to display a large problem that exits in our state in a beautiful and artistic way that virtually anyone could see. The statues became a landmark, and something that people looked for every time they went to Point Woronzof.

Today, Davies’ 100 Stone project is being displayed on campus at Alaska Pacific University. Spread all over the lawn of the main campus area, anyone can still go view her statues, and understand just how powerful of a message they send.

“So many statues made it off the beach in one piece, and I couldn’t just abandon them. I wanted to see if I could pay it forward, so this APU installation is perfect to showcase the remaining statues, and be a sort of temporary home,” Davies said.

“I began to wonder, what could they look like in a home? In a garden? In a natural setting where they could grow and be reintegrated into the Earth? That’s when I got the idea for them to be offered up for sponsorship and for sale,” Davies said.