Alutiiq Museum

JACK BARNWELL/Kodiak Daily Mirror

“The Messenger” is the newest addition to the Alutiiq Museum. 

A new face will greet visitors at the Alutiiq Museum following the installation of a new piece of art crafted by renowned Alaska artist and former Kodiak resident Perry Eaton.

A 47-inch tall, 210-pound bronze sculpture of a mask titled “The Messenger” was acquired by the museum through a $35,000 Rasmuson Foundation grant, according to an Alutiiq Museum news release, and installed thanks to a $1,900 grant from the Kodiak Community Foundation. 

The mask was designed with both human and bird features. 

According to April Laktonen Counceller, the museum’s executive director, the new artwork is a statement piece.

“Perry’s bronze is a wonderful addition to the museum’s entrance,” Counceller said in the news release. “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.”

Eaton created the mask in 2020 from a sand-cast wooden carving. It was finished by Patrick Garley at the Palmer-based foundry Arctic Fire Bronze Sculpture Works. 

According to the release, the inspiration for the mask came from Eaton’s studies of ancestral masks and his interest in Alutiiq spirituality.

Alutiiq culture holds that birds travel through the layers of the universe and carry messages from spirits, according to the release. Birds are also a common motif in Alutiiq art and culture.

Eaton sees his mask as a messenger between worlds and cultures and a symbol of cultural continuity, according to the news release.

“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,” said Alutiiq Museum Exhibits Manager Alex Painter in the release. “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.”

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