Stow artist celebrates local, historical women in statues for citywide female art show

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
Stow artist Alana Powell works on one of the pieces she is creating for the city's first women-only public art project in March for Women's History Month, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in Stow, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

From afar, the three life-size statues of women behind Stow City Hall may appear simple, delicate and fragile. 

In actuality, they are anything but.

Each one is an amalgam of the women who inspired the work. They're filled with detail and nuance. They're strong and flexible, can withstand the elements, the result of a year of a research. 

"That's kind of how I think of women in general. We can be miscategorized as fragile, when most us are pretty resilient," artist Alana Powell said. 

More:Stow to celebrate female artists

The three figures, representing the past, present and future, are just one part of the first citywide art show, Level Ground: A Stow Celebration of Women in the Arts, which starts Monday, March 1, in honor of Women's History Month and runs throughout March.

The show includes 27 female artists whose work will be displayed in about 20 Stow locations, including public spaces, restaurants, fitness studios, and mental health facilities and is the brainchild of Powell and another Stow artist, Leila Griffith. 

At the center of the show, however, are Powell's statues that are made of poured resin over sculpted wire frames and are covered in references to local and historical women. 

The faces of all three statues, for example, are cast from local women. Arts Commission Chairperson Kari Suhadolnik will be on the Past statue, single mom and business owner Kim Hinton will be on the Present statue, and a high school student with aspirations to run for Stow City Council will be on the Future statue. 

Powell declined to share the high school student's name in order to protect her identity. 

Resin castings of women's faces will be used in Alana Powell's series of sculptures for an upcoming women-only public art project in Stow. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

The Past statue, called "Remember the Ladies" will represent a suffragette, who is holding a wind spinners with representations of various important moments in women's history including Abigail Adams' "Remember the Ladies" letter, Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, a Votes for Women sign and Kamala Harris's election as the first female vice president.

Alana Powell holds up a prototype of an acrylic print of Vice President Kamala Harris, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in Stow, Ohio. A similar piece will be used in Powell's installation for the "Level Ground: A Stow Celebration of Women in Arts" public art project. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

The statue will also be adorned with a beaded collar, modeled after one worn by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

The Future statute, called "Aspire" will also be holding a windmill.

"The pieces that make it up are wishes for women for the future that people from the community could submit," Powell said. "I compiled them and they're being printed and dipped in resin to make the wheels of the pinwheel, and she'll be releasing those wishes into the wind." 

The Present statue, "Persist," itself is a functioning weathervane, "so she's always facing into the wind, into the storm. It was important to me to make sure the woman who was the face of this one was is a strong Black woman," Powell said. "In this moment in time, it matters that there be that representation. I can't imagine someone who fits this piece better than Kim." 

Powell plans to hide other details in each of the statues, but encouraged people to visit the City Center to find the Easter eggs themselves. 

While Powell requested that her work be in the City Center, the Arts Commission intentionally placed other artists — including glass artists, bassoonists, a violist, sculptors and painters  — in locations that reflected their work in some way. Recordings of performing artists will be played in various locations. 

Because they are unable to hold an opening reception due to the pandemic, the Arts Commission is instead offering a passport, available online and at City Hall, to encourage people to visit multiple locations to view the works. People who visit a certain number of locations will be entered into a drawing to win pieces created by participating artists. 

Powell hopes that the art show becomes an annual event, and she said they have 15 additional businesses that could not participate this year because of COVID-related reasons, but would like to next year.

"We have so much talent in this show and I'm hoping that it'll be positive enough that the artists want to come back next year and will encourage their friends to participate too," Powell said. "I'm excited for it to grow."

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.