The sculpted figures of men, women and children writhe and twist as they are pulled through the layers of a whirlpool. In the center of the oil clay maquette, a figure stretches its arm pleadingly as it is pulled down. Local sculptor Ken Smith said the idea for his ?Middle Passage,? a piece that tells the story of slaves crossing from Africa to the new world, was partially inspired by a scene in the movie ?Amistad.? The scene depicts passengers, chained together, who are thrown overboard when food becomes scarce on the slave ship.