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Homer organization aims to raise $15K to complete Indigenous art installation at Bishop’s Beach

Tuyanitun Tuggeht.jpg
Asia Freeman
Bunnell Street Arts Center
A scale model of Tuyanitun: Tuggeht photographed on location at Bishop's Beach Park.

The Bunnell Street Arts Center is raising money for a public art installation at Bishop’s Beach park that will spotlight the long legacy of Indigenous stewardship of local lands on the southern Kenai Peninsula.

The center is trying to raise $15,000 to ship and install a 12-foot-tall sculpture by Ninilchik-based artist Argent Kvasnikoff. It’s the last step in a project that’s been in the works for four years.

“It's part of deeper work, deeper decolonial work,” said Asia Freeman, the artistic director at the Bunnell. “Work to uplift Indigenous perspectives, histories, present-day stories, and future visions.”

Kvasnikoff is a member of the Ninilchik Village Tribe, and Freeman said he wanted to help “convey some of the depth and complexity of the story of this place” in his art piece.

His sculpture for Bishop’s Beach will share the Dena'ina wayfinding system called Tuyanitun.

The system has five directions that radiate outward over tribal lands from the Ninilchik Dome – which is the high point on the landscape in the southern Caribou Hills, said Freeman.

One of those five directions is Tuggeht, the original and traditional name for Bishop’s Beach, meaning “at the shore.”

Freeman said the project is a partnership between the art center, the Ninilchik Village Tribe, the City of Homer and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Freeman and Kvasnikoff received permission from the Tribe in June 2020 to install the piece at the beach. The city approved and accepted the gift of the sculpture, called Tuyanitun: Tuggeht, into the municipal public art collection that September.

Freeman said they got many grants to support the project, including a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to fabricate the sculpture.

“His vision, which is of these stacked, rounded, rock-like forms, in this sort of beautiful sea glass, greenish color, is inspired by a few things: the glass floats that you often see on Alaska's coastal beaches and the southern Gulf. And also on the Chawala, or boreal spruce, which has kind of this stacked tree-like shape,” Freeman said. “So this sculpture has these stacked forms. The largest one is five-feet wide, and they get smaller as it gets to the top.”

The green glass-like stones will be made of recycled plastics, Freeman said, so they're durable and not super heavy. The acrylic pieces are currently being fabricated in Scotland and then will be shipped to Homer. That’s where the fundraiser comes in. Freeman said they still need $15,000 to ship the elements and assemble the sculpture.

The art will be installed at the entrance of Bishop's Beach and Bunnell Street Arts Center hopes to place a sign with the Dena'ina wayfinding system and the sculpture name, alongside a land acknowledgement. The sculpture will sit on traditional Ninilchik Tribal Land.

Land acknowledgement is a way of acknowledging a more truthful and complex story of place,” Freeman said. “It's a way of saying this land is Indigenous land and we're aware of, not denying, that colonization has happened on these lands. And we're not erasing. We don't want to erase, but rather uplift the story, the name, the people of this place, the people who have stewarded it for millennia. That's why so many of us are here. We love it. It's beautiful. And it wouldn't be that way if it wasn't so well taken care of.”

The installation marks the beginning of planned renovations to the park at Bishop’s Beach, or Tuggeht. The City of Homer plans to install the sculpture on Sept. 24.

To find more information, visit

Local News Bunnell Street Arts CenterNinilchik Village TribeLand acknowledgementDena'ina
In 2019, Hope moved to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor to work for Alaska's Energy Desk and KUCB — the westernmost public radio newsroom in the country. She has lived, worked and filed stories from California, New York, Bolivia, Peru, Cuba and Alaska.
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