ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque artist wants women represented at the city’s veterans’ memorial park, but said when she proposed a female sculpture, the Veterans Memorial Review Committee suggested she add a man to it.
Jen Northup said she recently proposed an idea that would put the face of a woman veteran on a sculpture at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial.
The Air Force veteran and sculptor said she got the idea after recently visiting the park.
“There is nothing out there for the women vet, solely. There’s nothing,” Northup said.
So, she created a drawing, then sculpted the image onto clay and is already working on a mold of a woman K-9 handler. She said the design was inspired by her friend, who served at Kirtland Air Force Base in the 1980s.
However, when Northup met the board that approves sculptures, she said the chairman had some ideas of his own.
“There was a suggestion that perhaps I should add a male K-9 handler into my proposal,” Northup said.
Judy Quintana, the President of The Women Veterans in New Mexico, supports Northup’s idea. She said the chairman told her the same thing.
“He explained it to me that we needed to have a male and female K-9 handler in the sculpture,” Quintana said. “I tried to understand the concept because the rest of the area doesn’t have it the same way.”
However, Northrup said that’s not what she was going for. She said all of the other statues at the park are men and she thinks it’s important to have the image of a woman on a statue.
Northup said she recently learned that her friend may have been the first female K-9 handler at Kirtland.
“When I found that out, I was like, I can’t change it,” Northup said.
Northup said adding a man to the piece would take away the efforts of women who helped reshape the military by taking on roles that were once only held by men.
Northrup said her sculpture would cost about $90,000 that she would have to raise by donors. She says she will do the work for free.
However, she said adding a male soldier would bump up the cost to $150,000.
Northup said she was also told to get the support of the K-9 community then come back and propose her idea again.
Northup said the sculpture is also important because it represents the K-9 handler community, which she feels both the soldier and canine play a vital role in securing citizen’s safety. She said it would be an honor to see the K-9 community represented at the park.
Northup said members of that community are in support of her idea.
She is also on a mission to get support from other veterans and even active duty to try and get her proposal pushed through.
Northup’s proposal would be the first image of a woman veteran, but there’s currently a monument including the uniform of a female veteran.
KRQE News 13 asked for comment from the committee chairman Wednesday, but the city said he called in sick.
A city official said it typically takes a couple of meetings to get an idea passed.