Lockport artist's gift inspires youth
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, a two-week residency this past July became a reality.
The “Whimsical Large-Scale Sculpture Project,” which took place the weeks of July 9 and July 16 was free to children who ranged in age from 8 to 12. Nine children participated in week one and 14 in week two. Under the supervision of teaching artists Zack Boehler and Sarah Fonzi of Ashford Hollow, 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 three-dimensional works of art. In addition, the children contributed ideas for the design of two large-scale sculptures that will be constructed at Essex Street Arts Center to be installed on the Kenan Center grounds.
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,” he said.
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 said 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,” said Przybyl. “Perhaps Wendy’s story will inspire others to support similar programs that will give the young people of our community opportunities for creative expression.”
A public ceremony to unveil the new sculptures will take place at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 28. A reception will follow in the Kenan Center Taylor Theater Meeting Room.
The Kenan Center is located at 433 Locust St., Lockport. For information, call 433-2617 or go online to www.kenancenter.org