Work is advancing on the Loved & Lost memorial bench as Homer artist Brad Hughes and his crew last week began pouring a rubber mold on one side of the clay base to create the support pieces for the bench. Once the mold has completely set, the concrete will be cast in it to make the first structure.
“We’ve finally made it to the (molding) stage, and that is big,” Hughes said. “We’re doing two coats a day.”
The original artwork was sculpted in molding clay by Hughes, which features mourning characters of all ages and ethnicities. As the base coat of rubber was poured on the design, it captured the design’s smallest details while the additional layers created a solidified mold for casting. As the bench supports are rounded, the clay base has to be rotated 90 degrees each time the mold is poured to allow for even coverage.
The finished rubber mold will be roughly 3/4-inch thick and will be placed in a fiberglass/rebar frame, or mother mold, for support when the concrete is poured in.
“I’ve never cast anything as hard and complex as this,” Hughes said.
The bench, which will be placed at the Homer Public Library upon completion, is being created in honor of Homer’s Anesha “Duffy” Murnane and all those who have gone missing. Murnane went missing Oct. 17, 2019 and was last seen leaving her apartment complex. On June 17, 2021, a six-member jury declaredMurnane was presumed to be dead during a presumptive death hearing.
Sara Berg, Murnane’s mom, has worked closely with Hughes to create the characters on the bench to represent the loss and pain felt by losing a loved one. A few features viewers will see on the bench are mementos from the Berg family in honor of Murnane, like a small bunny memorialized on the clay mold.
“This is both a public message, but it’s also a very private work of art,” Hughes said.
The second side of the bench is still in the creation process, and Hughes says he is unsure of when it will be ready.
Sara Berg and Murnane’s step-father Ed Berg shared the purpose of the bench was to serve as a physical memorial of their and so many others’ loss.
“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,” the Bergs wrote in a statement. “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.”
As of Monday, $31,950 of the bench’s $40,000 fundraising goal has been donated. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/lovedandlostmemorial or through the Homer United Methodist Church.
For more information, contact Christina Whiting at firstname.lastname@example.org.