Walking or riding a bike to and from school provides a chance for students to get outside and to start and end their school day with physical activity. Walking to school has even been proven to help kids concentrate better in school; for the rest of the city, it alleviates some of the traffic congestion on morning commutes. It’s good for everyone!
SDOT has promoted this effort by adopting the national program Safe Routes to School to ensure that kids can make these daily walks safely. One of the methods to make walking routes more visible is to install artwork along common routes students take. Recently, the Roxhill, Rainer Beach, and Olympic Hills neighborhoods in Seattle gained Flyways, a public art series by Joyce Hsu. Hsu wanted to create works that are playful and inviting for the students en route, as well as iconic for each neighborhood.
Each Flyways installation consists of a ring of birds, reminiscent of an origami carousel, positioned to appear as if they are in flight; the ring is mounted on a metal pole. All three communities collaborated with the artist to select the bird species in order to make each artwork unique to the neighborhoods. For example, Flyways by Aki Kurose Middle School in Rainier Beach features blue and gold peace cranes, in honor of the school’s mascot and colors.
Joyce Hsu works primarily in sculpture installation and public art. Born in Hong Kong, she received her Master of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute and her Master of Architecture at California College of the Arts, and is now based in Oakland, CA. Hsu reports that her art, “playfully re-invents icons familiar in contemporary culture and art history, with the intention of linking a contemporary site with its over-arching cultural narratives,” a theme that can be clearly observed in Flyways.
Photos by Kelly Pajek, of “Flyways” in the Olympic Hills neighborhood.
Funded by Seattle Department of Transportation’s 1% for Art Program.
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