Client: Alaska Department of Human Services - Johnson Youth Center
Location: Juneau, AK, United States
Artwork budget: $80,000
artist and fabricator
State of Alaska
This metal relief sculpture screen serves to identify the mission of the client (the Alaska Department of Human Services) as well as attractively conceal from view an emergency generator and fuel tank that are adjacent to the public entrance to the building.
The work was commissioned by the State of Alaska Public Art program for the Johnson Youth Center which is a correctional and educational facility for young criminal offenders.
The title “Swimming Upstream” is a reflection on the difficult life circumstances the occupants face as well as the design pattern of salmon fish that flow across the composition.
The architect for the building wanted to conceal the unsightly but necessary mechanical apparatus from the public while at the same time putting a positive and colorful image on an institution that is needed but often hidden from the public.
The activities depicted by the postures of the figures in the
design are of cooperation and study, which is part of the educational aspect of the Johnson Youth Center.
The overall shape and size (10'h x 37'w) of the sculptural screen was pre-determined by the steel framework that surrounds the building's mechanical fixtures. The artist devised a modular sculptural screen that is bolted to this framework in a manner so that it can be removed and replaced should maintenance access to the generator be required.
The sculpture is fabricated from laser cut aluminum plate and finished with automobile paints.