By Aisling Meath
A HUGE stainless steel sculpture entitled Kindred Spirits is being created by Skibbereen sculptor Alex Pentek to symbolise the generosity of the Choctaw people to the Irish.
The sculpture, which commemorates the generosity of the native Americans to the Irish in famine times, will be unveiled in North Cork in the coming months.
It consists of nine massive feathers forming a huge bowl. Alex drew his inspiration for the empty bowl from the hunger experienced during the Famine, and the huge eagle feathers forming it reminds the public of the great gesture of generosity on behalf of the Choctaw people, to aid and feed.
Alex, a successful sculptor since graduating from the Crawford College in 1996, aims to communicate the tenderness and warmth of the Choctaw nation in providing food to the hungry when they themselves were still recovering from their own tragic past.
When the Choctaw people heard of the suffering endured by the Irish, they were so moved that they gathered from their own meagre resources and sent it to them.
Only sixteen years earlier, their own people had been forcibly removed from their ancestral lands.
They were forced to endure the long trek through a very harsh winter, and many did not survive – known as the ‘Trail of Tears’.
Pentek’s sculpture has been of particular interest to Gary White Deer, a Choctaw artist who took part in the 2009 national famine commemorations in Skibbereen. He has recently chosen to make Ireland his full-time home. ‘As a Choctaw artist living and working in Donegal, I am pleased that the Choctaw donation to famine Ireland will be expressed through art with such originality grace and beauty,’ he said this week.
‘The enduring Choctaw-Irish famine link transcends peoples, places and time and speaks to the best within ourselves. Thankfully, the Irish and Choctaw people are no longer dying of hunger. Our remembered common bond now asks us to remember those who suffer as we once did.,’ he told the Star.