If you’re near Seattle City Light’s Canal Street facility at Northwest 45th Street and Sixth Avenue Northwest, especially at dusk or later, you’ll see some of the “activities” happening inside through the softly glowing windows. Six back-lit silhouettes in the large upper-story windows are part of Barbara Noah’s artwork Forms of Power, created in 1986.
In the ’80s, when the City Light Canal Substation was added to the list of city substation renovations, the Seattle Arts Commission selected Noah to work on the project’s design team with landscape architect Peggy Gaynor and the architectural firm of Streeter/Dermanis. Noah participated in all aspects of the renovation, including the color selection for the substation transformers, the overall landscaping of the site, and the design of an artwork for the building.
For Forms of Power, Noah painted images of allegories of power on windows made of sandblasted, multi-colored translucent Plexiglas. The hand signs of the game rock-paper-scissors, representing physical power, are painted on three orange windows. A pink window shows a couple about to kiss, symbolizing the power of love. A scientist conducting experiments represents the power of the mind. And in a green window, a blindfolded figure with outstretched arms, evoking traditional representations of justice, stands for the power of the law. This visual play subtly alludes to the factors that impact the daily lives in the homes and businesses that depend on the Canal Street site for power.
Noah is a Seattle mixed-media artist with experience in painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, public art, installations and digital imaging. She has exhibited in various art venues, both nationally and internationally, and is represented in a wide variety of public and private collections. The city of Seattle’s collection includes over 15 portable and permanently sited works by Noah.
The artwork was funded by Seattle City Light 1% for Art funds.
IMAGES: Forms of Power, 1985, Plexiglas and paint, various dimensions. Located at Seattle City Light’s Canal Substation, Northwest 45th Street and Sixth Avenue Northwest.
Weekly Art Hit is featuring artworks every week from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the city’s public art program.