Haines woman honors victims of COVID-19 with art

Haines artist uses found object to pay homage to Alaskans who have died with COVID-19.
Haines artist uses found object to pay homage to Alaskans who have died with COVID-19.(Katie Ione Craney)
Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 3:30 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Haines artist Katie Ione Craney is a metal worker and wanted to do something to pay tribute to the victims of coronavirus with art. She began creating a piece called In Memoriam.

She said near the beginning of the pandemic she was feeling the weight of the moment, her business was shut down and things were starting to change.

“It just became kind of this overwhelming feeling of wanting to do something beyond wearing a mask and social distancing,” says Craney.

So she turned to her art. Craney uses found objects like sheet metal that she coats with wax then layers with material, anything from qiviut from Nome, to wild cotton seeds, and, in this case, a friend’s lace wedding tablecloth dyed with blueberries.

“And then just the idea of a tablecloth, thinking about the holidays, you’re setting the table to entertain your family or bring people around and gathered together,” says Craney. “And we’re not allowed to do that, or we shouldn’t be doing that. And we want to be able to do that in the future. But some of us won’t be able to in the ways that we/they once did.”

When Craney started the project in June of 2020 she said she didn’t know anyone impacted by the virus. She had seen an article listing victims and was struck by the importance that they were portrayed as individuals not just statistics.

“I thought it would be a really great way to, to my have to allow myself to personally like, work through humanizing numbers,” says Craney. “Because a lot of times we’re reading these graphs and seeing the daily counts, but knowing that behind every single number is a person, you know, could be your aunt, your sister, best friend.

Since then, she has lost an uncle to COVID-19 and says most people’s lives have been disrupted by the virus in some fashion.

The piece is still in progress.

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