With grants from Museums Alaska and the Kodiak Community Foundation, the Alutiiq Museum has purchased and installed a large bronze sculpture by Alutiiq artist Perry Eaton. The Messenger, a mask with both bird and human features, is 47 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. The public is invited to see this mask in the Alutiiq Center rotunda where it is displayed.
“Perry’s bronze is a wonderful addition to the museum’s entrance,” said Alutiiq Museum Executive Director April Laktonen Counceller. “It’s a statement piece. The mask’s size, dramatic features, and bronze material capture your attention. They tell visitors that they are entering a space dedicated to Alutiiq heritage.”
The Messenger was sand cast from a wooden carving created by Eaton in 2020. Patrick Garley completed the metal work at Arctic Fire Bronze Sculpture Works, a foundry in Palmer Alaska. Inspiration for the piece came from Eaton’s studies of ancestral masks and his interest in Alutiiq spirituality. In the Alutiiq world, birds travel through the layers of the universe and carry messages from spirits. Bird imagery is common in Alutiiq art, and The Messenger features a beak-shaped mouth. Eaton see his mask as a messenger between worlds and cultures, and a symbol of cultural continuity.
The mask was purchased with a $35,000 award from Rasmuson Foundation’s Art Acquisition Fund, administered by Museums Alaska. A second grant of $1,900 grant from the Kodiak Community Foundation supported installation.
“Displaying this large piece was complicated. We consulted Alaska State Museum exhibit experts, hired a welder to make custom metal mounts, rented a scissor lift, and consulted a knowledgeable contractor,” explained Exhibits Manager Alex Painter. “The Kodiak Community Foundation support was so helpful. It allowed us to hang the piece professionally. Now everyone who comes to the Alutiiq Center can enjoy it.”
The Alutiiq Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and culture of the Alutiiq, an Alaska Native tribal people. Representatives of Kodiak Alutiiq organizations govern the museum with funding from charitable contributions, memberships, grants, contracts, and sales.