Everett artist chosen by Dedham Public Art Project to paint rabbit sculpture for fund-raising auction
DEDHAM, Mass. – The Dedham Public Art Project, a collaboration between the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning & Creativity and the Dedham Square Artist Guild, has chosen Everett-based artist Karyn Alzayer to paint a five-foot rabbit sculpture, which is scheduled to be installed publicly in Dedham by September. Submissions from artists were solicited in early June, and a panel of judges recently reviewed and selected the winning design.
Overseen by the Reynolds Center’s Paul Reynolds and Dedham Square Artist Guild’s Kerry Hawkins, the project was launched to help celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Mother Brook Arts & Community Center, and to raise funds for MBACC by auctioning off the rabbit at the Center’s fall fundraiser later this year. Dedham Savings generously supported the project, which helped defray costs of the sculpture form, shipping from Chicago and the artist’s stipend.
The judging panel featured artists Sue Hoy, Lisa W. B. Walker, Cat Ciccolo Tucker and Dedham Civic Pride’s Janet Holmes. The judges were won over by Alzayer’s “experience with public art, her prolific body of work, demonstrated craftsmanship, and portfolio of award-winning designs.”
Alzayer’s winning design will feature a solid background from the cobalt blue family, a nod to the traditional Dedham Pottery, with bright orange henna-style mandalas stretching out across the rabbit’s body. Fine detail in a deep shade of purple will be applied with a traditional henna cone to overlay the other layers.
With music education degrees from Otterbein University and Boston University, Alzayer started off as a successful elementary school music educator. She was eventually drawn to the visual arts with a fascination for henna designs and her desire to honor the traditions of henna. After spending almost 10 successful years as an elementary school music educator, balancing ownership of a small business during some of that time, Alzayer recently branched out to exclusively practice art.
As described on Alzayer’s website, www.HennaInspired.com, “Henna is a plant dye that naturally stains skin and hair a reddish-brown color. Made from the ground leaves of the henna plant, henna has been used for body art for thousands of years. Traditions of decorating the body with henna paste are most associated with areas of India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Traditionally, henna is done for wedding ceremonies, during important rites of passage, and in times of joyous celebration. The paste is applied to the skin in intricate designs, and when the paste is removed several hours later, designs can remain on the skin for up to three weeks, gradually fading over time.”
Alzayer is also known for her henna-style artwork on clothing, fabric, musical instruments, furniture and other physical objects. Alzayer’s contribution to the Dedham Public Art Project is not her first foray into public art. In 2016, Alzayer was one of 60 local artists chosen for the 2016 Street Pianos of Boston program, which transformed decommissioned pianos with artist-painted designs, emblazoned them with the words “Play me, I’m yours” and placed them all over the city for anyone to play.
In 2012, 15 crouching rabbit sculptures were painted and placed across Dedham in high visibility locations, including parks, public spaces, and outdoor retail areas as part of the inaugural Dedham Public Art Project. Each sculpture was painted by a juried selection of local artists and sponsored by local businesses, individuals and organizations. The rabbit sculpture form is produced by Cowpainters, a woman-owned and -operated studio, which has been creating fiberglass forms since 1999 for over 500 public arts projects across the country.