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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

YWCA sculpture a symbol of new beginnings

Every piece of art tells a story.

A new sculpture created by artist Ildikó Kalapács and commissioned by Debra Garrett, a local philanthropist and longtime YWCA supporter, tells an intensely personal yet universal story.

Garrett told Kalapács that she’d lost family members to domestic violence and had family members still enduring unsafe situations. She wanted a permanent tribute installed at the YWCA to honor them and to encourage women in their journey toward freedom and dignity.

“The vision came to me,” said Kalapács. “A woman walking through a half-open door with her children. I wanted her to have this energy and optimism. She must be confident, walking tall, walking strong. The half-open door is a metaphor for new beginnings.”

“Refuge” will be unveiled Friday. It’s installed by the entrance to the YWCA Spokane’s Alternative to Domestic Violence Programs and serves as a symbol of the partnership between the YWCA and a survivor’s dedication to a new beginning.

The cast bronze sculpture features a traditional patina and earth tones and depicts a woman with a child in her arms and her hand on the shoulder of a child next to her. It stands on a foundation that reads “ENTER HERE FOR PEACE.”

A bronze plaque affixed to the open door bears the names of five of Garrett’s family members. The piece was cast at Walla Walla Foundry and mounted on a pedestal made by Mel’s Custom Cabinets.

“This is very personal to me. I wanted her on a pedestal because she’s a hero to me,” Kalapács said. “I grew up in Hungary in a very contradictory culture. Women had access to good jobs and education, but the culture was misogynistic and male-dominated. My mother suffered abuse in the home. Violence abounded. Making this sculpture helped me process some of that.”

Dana Morris, director of development for YWCA Spokane, said the sculpture “depicts the feeling our clients have when they’re in our sanctuary where people can help them create better lives. It takes a woman an average of seven visits to get to a place where they have a safety plan in place. A resolve happens when they take that first step. All that peace is on the other side of that open door.”

Kalapács titled the piece “Refuge” because she said she never saw any refuge in Hungary for women and children trapped in domestic violence situations.

“I hope those who haven’t asked for help will be honest with themselves and consider asking for help,” she said.

Morris agreed.

“The message women receive at the Y is you’re worth it. You deserve dignity. You deserve freedom. This (sculpture) visually depicts what we offer,” said Morris. “It’s the ultimate Cliff Note – there is hope here.”