LAWMAKER-ARTIST making progress on statue for state Capitol

Saturday, June 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Kelly Haney stood atop a ladder Friday, mashing brown clay onto a plastic foam replica of an American Indian warrior.

Haney, a state senator and an accomplished artist, is doing the preliminary work for a 4-ton bronze statue that will sit on the dome being constructed at the state Capitol.

The clay-covered foam will be used to create a mold for the 17-foot statue, called ``The Guardian.''

``I think it represents Oklahoma,'' Haney said while working in sneakers and overalls at the Crucible Foundry in Norman. ``The story of the native people in Oklahoma is really the story of the history of Oklahoma.''

First, Haney made an 18-inch statue that was scanned into a computer. The computer file was sent to a California company, which produced the foam model.

Foundry co-owner Mark Palmerton said the high-tech process will shave months off the time it will take to finish the statue, pegged for completion by Nov. 16, 2002, which is Statehood Day. It will then be hoisted into position on top of the dome.

Like much of Haney's work _ which is shown across the United States, Europe and Asia _ the statue is being done with the help of others. While Haney toiled high above on the ladder, his 12-year-old son, John, shaved slices of clay to be mashed into the face's texture.

Haney said his son's eyes were a model for the statue while the statue's slender body was patterned off Haney's 18-year-old neighbor.

``Indian people are strong but they're not muscled, bulky people,'' Haney said.

While father and son worked, Haney's 20-year-old daughter, Brooke, snapped photos. Haney's other son, William, 21, arrived at the shop from his job helping manage his father's art business.

``We've always been involved, from getting supplies together to helping him sketch out initial ideas for his projects,'' William said.

But he said he and his sister were happy to let their little brother do the hard work Friday.

``We've had our share of that, Brooke and I both,'' William said. ``We're passing that on.''

Haney said the statue will likely be the pinnacle of his career. He turned down the $50,000 commission that was to be given to its artist.

``To me, it's a gift from my family to Oklahoma,'' he said.

The statue's beads and earrings are the type found in Oklahoma rivers and lakes, while a circle on the warrior's shield represents the ``wheel of life,'' an Indian belief that all things are equal in value and balance. A cross on the shield represents the four seasons.

Haney said the figure will carry a lance stuck through part of his clothing into the ground to symbolize a warrior who will not give his ground.

``To me, it's Oklahoma,'' Haney said. ``You know we have faced many tragedies in Oklahoma, but each time we made our stand. We've not moved. We've pulled together as one people.''