Among the new and returning faces to the UAA campus this fall is a not-so-furry hare. This giant bunny measures 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide. Five pieces of bolted together aluminum with snow-white thermoplastic coating make up the sculpture. “Snowshoe” by Matt Babcock is viewable from the bus stop across from the UAA/APU Consortium Library.
“Snowshoe” is based on the snowshoe hare, hence the title. Snowshoes are the most widespread species of hare in Alaska, according to the official Alaska Department of Fish and Game website. One hare produces over 10 new offspring annually. Babcock desired to dedicate this sculpture to a commonplace Alaskan species that resident art does not often spotlight.
“Anchorage has a lot of really great art depicting grizzly bears and moose and salmon, and I would just be in competition with all of that,” Babcock said. “I proposed a species of local significance you might not have as many statues of already.”
Babcock finds most of his inspiration within nature and holds great admiration for Alaskan wildlife. One of his first public sculpture commissions was a sculptural bike rack modeled after a moose. He believes that green transportation such as buses, bikes and walks further cement the intrinsic connection between transportation and nature.
“Anchorage seems special to me in that there’s so much wildlife living in the city,” Babcock said. “A lot of my work uses animals to celebrate or encourage a connection between people and nature. I think that promoting a connection to nature and promoting public transit overlap.”
Babcock received his master’s in architecture from the University of Colorado Denver. He was an architect for 13 years before he followed the path of an artist. Babcock says he is grateful for the decreased amount of paperwork required to make less functional structures.
Babcock recounted on several occasions an anecdote about his father providing him with a workbench when he was five years old. He crafted what, in his words, he calls “things that I thought of as functional, even though the function was often mysterious or imaginary.” Babcock cites this childhood experience as the beginning of his journey towards art.
“Snowshoe” was installed at UAA on Aug. 2. It was funded by the 1% for Art in Anchorage initiative for the People Mover through the Municipality of Anchorage.
“The sculpture is destined for a transit stop, where it will seem to be running to catch the bus,” Babcock said in his portfolio description of “Snowshoe.”
The unmoving sculpture observes as students board the People Mover. Students running to catch the bus can be reminded by the perpetually running sculpture that the proverbial hare does not win the race.
Have you seen art at UAA you want to know more about? Contact Robert Gant at [email protected]