Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

Hartwick’s Stefanie Rocknak a Finalist in National Design Competition


Hannah Erbe Smith

Professor of philosophy and department chair Dr. Stefanie Rocknak received her BA in American Studies, Art History and Studio Art from Colby College in 1988. Her major in American Studies gave her the opportunity to take a number of courses that covered Native American peoples and their cultures. She later received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University; her work has been featured in a number of philosophical publications.

Rocknak has been a sculptor for more than 30 years, receiving multiple grants and awards for her projects in that time. Her work has been featured in prominent publications such as The Boston Globe, The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. Her most recent public art project, titled “Poe Returning to Boston,” was a bronze installation of Edgar Allen Poe in his birthplace of Boston, MA, commissioned in 2014 by the Boston Art Commission and the Poe Foundation of Boston.

Rocknak is now a finalist in a national competition to design the new National Native American Veterans Memorial to be installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Regarding her inspiration to participate in the competition, Rocknak states that she is “deeply moved by the significance and importance of this project. A national memorial that celebrates and honors the service, sacrifice and dedication of Native American Veterans, as well as their families is long overdue; our nation’s capital stands in need of this tribute.”

Her design, titled “The Enduring Dance,” was one of five selected from 120 international submissions. When she visited the site on the museum grounds, Rocknak had the opportunity to watch a Native American dance ceremony, which assisted in her imagination of the design. On Wednesday, February 7, Rocknak presented her design concept in a public forum. She describes, “By way of their dress, four groups of two figures (reflecting the four directions) would represent the major past, present and, potentially, future wars that Native Americans have served in. The figures, representing all branches of service, would be approximately 8 feet tall and cast in stainless steel with a light granite patina…General facts about the sacrifices made by Native American family members and service members would be inscribed on the base. Healing, pride and place in the Native American community, as well as in the American community in general, would be visceral.”

The winning design will be announced on July 4, 2018. The memorial will be formally dedicated on Veteran’s Day in 2020.