Arts in brief

Family commissions memorial bench for missing daughter

The family of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane has commissioned Homer artist Brad Hughes to create a memorial bench to honor their daughter. Murnane went missing from downtown Homer on Oct. 19, 2019. She has not been seen or heard from since. To be titled “Loved & Lost,” the sculptural bench will honor Murane and draw awareness to the issue of missing women and children in Alaska, the nation and around the world, according to a press release from Sara Berg, Murnane’s mother, and Ed Berg, her stepfather.

The family has started a Go Fund Me fundraiser to raise funds for the project, with a goal of $40,000. Homer United Methodist Church will serve as the fund manager. Once completed, the bench will be installed at a location to be determined. The design will be reproducible for other communities who want a similar bench. For more information on the bench and to contribute, visit

The Bergs said in a press release that they commissioned the bench because her body has not yet been found and they don’t have a grave for Murnane and wanted a memorial.

“We, Duffy’s family, have been grieving for our daughter since she disappeared in October 2019,” they wrote in the press release. “Since she went missing, we have learned just how many women and children are taken every year, especially among the Native populations, and indeed around the world. We are certainly not alone in our plight and our grief, and so we decided to create this memorial for not just our daughter, but for all the others who are suffering as well. We want the bench to serve as a memorial and to raise awareness of this tragedy. This bench will be dedicated to all the lost ones, to all the taken ones and to all those who loved them, left behind with so many questions. We are not alone in our grief.”

Homer artist Hughes previously created a memorial bench at Land’s End Resort to honor Jean Keene, known as “the Eagle Lady.” His public art uses a concrete composite that is durable and weather- and vandal-resistant. To build “Loved & Lost,” he will sculpt the supporting figures in clay, and then coat it with liquid rubber to make a permanent mold. The molds will be filled with a concrete composite reinforced with glass fibers called Trinic. The bench will include space for bronze dedication plaques. The rubber molds can be used for additional castings, Hughes wrote in the press release. “Loved & Lost” will go beyond the traditional bench of wooden planks with cast-iron supports.

“Our idea has evolved to so much more. It might better be thought of as a permanent set of thematic sculptures dedicated to the memory of a beloved lost one, while at the same time, visually moving us to consider a deeply important phenomena that affects us all on many levels,” Hughes wrote. “This bench is a stand-alone work of art, which also provides a space to sit in contemplation and, sometimes, grief. Sara has guided me, as artist on this project, to a piece that will acknowledge and help understand the complex emotions and experiences that cause so much grief, pain and suffering, as ones we love are taken from us without reason or explanation.”

Alaskan poet wins Helen Kay Chapbook Award

Anchor Point poet Cassondra Windwalker has won the Helen Kay Chapbook Award by Evening Street Press. The award includes publication of her most recent poetry collection, “The Bench,” addressing last summer’s wildfires, pandemic, racial justice protests and police violence, Windwalker wrote in a press release. The cover illustration of a Homer street scene also is by an Anchor Point artist, photographer Nika Wolfe.

Windwalker already has received advance praise for her collection. In a review in “Pank” by Gabino Iglesias, Iglesias writes, “Pandemic poetry. We knew it was coming, but we probably didn’t expect it to be as full of light and keen observations as Windwalker’s collection is. From the start, The Bench is an invitation to sit down, pay attention and soak in the stories we’re about to witness. … Windwalker is a superb chronicler of everyday humanity, and in the short book we see how human resilience shines, how we push through even when we have no guarantee that the outcome will be positive.”

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