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Kenan Center Unveils Sculptures Funded by Lockport Artist | Arts & Culture

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Kenan Center Unveils Sculptures Funded by Lockport Artist
Kenan Center Unveils Sculptures Funded by Lockport Artist

On Friday, September 28, the Kenan Center unveiled two colorful metal sculptures that contain the creative ideas of twenty-two community children ages 8 to 12 who participated in a special arts experience during the summer with artist educators from Essex Street Arts Center. One of the sculptures, in particular, is dedicated to a Lockport artist named Wendy Gibson whose family wanted to remember her life in a special way.

Gibson was a familiar exhibitor at the Kenan Center’s annual Holiday Gift Show. When Gibson passed away in November of 2011 from cancer, just prior to the November Gift Show in which she was scheduled to exhibit her work, her family took her place at her booth, and offered the proceeds to the Kenan Center to fund an arts program for children. 

The Kenan Center had the perfect opportunity already in mind: a hands-on sculpture building program for children through the Ashford Hollow Foundation (Griffis Sculpture Park outside Ellicottville) and Essex Street Arts Center. All that was missing was the funding.

After proposing the idea to Gibson’s son, Aaron, and with additional funding provided by the Grigg-Lewis Foundation, the "Whimsical Large-Scale Sculpture Project" became a reality this past July.

Under the supervision of teaching artists Zack Boehler and Nila Griffis the young artists designed and constructed their own miniature sculptures in metal, and watched the process of cutting the metal into shapes that they then colored and assembled into 3-dimensional works of art. In addition, the children contributed ideas for the design of two large-scale sculptures that were constructed at Essex Street Arts Center.

Gibson’s son, Aaron, related to the Kenan Center that the gift to fund the project seemed to him the perfect way to honor his mother who loved crafting. “I have very vivid memories of my mother’s pursuit of everything creative and how her projects were a way of overcoming difficult times,” says Gibson.  His mother also enjoyed visiting Griffis Sculpture Park, and so it was a happy collision of circumstances when the Kenan Center proposed the sculpture program that would not only provide a creative experience for children, but would produce two permanent sculptures that would honor his mother’s memory.

Susan Przybyl, Executive Director of the Kenan Center says that the financial gift for the sculpture project was a remarkable gesture by the Gibson family that will have a long-lasting impact. “Not only will the children who participated in this project benefit from their creative experience, but the resulting sculptures will be a tribute to Wendy Gibson’s passion for creativity. Perhaps Wendy’s story will inspire others to support similar programs that will give the young people of our community opportunities for creative expression.”

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