Looking out into Cook Inlet Saturday morning, the weather looked much like it did in winter: dark, gray and cloudy. It took a team of 70 volunteers only a few hours to clear 68 statues, each one of them molded from an Alaskan battling mental illness.

Artist Sarah Davies said the 100 Stone project was only intended to survive through the season. Still, its five-month history was troubled.

Soon after being installed in November, a storm destroyed several of the original 85 figures. After that, it was vandalized. And in January, the statues witnessed the suspicious deaths of two young people.

Davies said the vandalism was unwelcome, but it wasn’t necessarily surprising.

“As unsettling as that can be, it’s still very much in line with the message of the project,” she said. “Sometimes, when we’re in our most vulnerable positions is when we need the kindness of humans most, and it comes back in exactly the wrong or opposite way.”

She said the project was designed to do more than raise awareness of suicide and mental health. It was aimed to expose “human vulnerability.” When faced with a personal challenge, the figures become an avenue to have difficult conversations and share “uncomfortable moments” that are too sensitive to discuss with a friend.

“It makes it less awkward to talk about some difficult things. It’s a perfect platform for conversations like those,” Davies said.

While she was one of the most involved people in the project, Davies said it took at least six people to create every figure.

“I did not make this. Hundreds of us made this across the state,” she said.

The project was funded by several organizations, including the Rasmuson Foundation, the Atwood Foundation and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The cost of labor to install, reinstall and uninstall the project would have cost “hundreds of thousands,” according to Davies.

She said she hopes to sell some of the remaining figures to match some of the costs.

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