Metal relief sculpture
10’h x 37’w x 8”d
Collection of the State of Alaska
photo by Joe McCabe, Juneau

“SWIMMING UPSTREAM” is a relief sculpture screen commissioned by the State of Alaska Public Art Program for the Johnson Youth Center, a juvenile justice correctional facility and school in Juneau, Alaska. The composition incorporates imagery of larger than life figures engaged in gestures of positive interaction, civility, communicating, studying and co-operating in work tasks. (All aims of the work done here with its residents.) The migrating fish pattern woven through the length of the design is a reference to both a wild salmon stream that runs alongside the facility and the “Swimming Upstream” struggle many of the kids residing here have had in life.

The art selection committee for the project sought to express the mission of the facility to the public as well as change the mood of the gray façade with the addition of color. Another practical feature of this work is that the sculptural screen conceals and provides some security for an emergency generator that is adjacent to the visitors entrance to the building.