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Artwork on the Ship Canal

In 2024, Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) Ship Canal Water Quality Project (SCQWP) will open a new tunnel that will serve as an underground water storage tank.  Above ground, however art will enliven the area and tell the story of why the city needs the underground tank.

The Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with SPU has commissioned a suite of artworks, both temporary and permanent that will be on view during construction and years into the future on sites throughout Wallingford, Fremont, Queen Anne, and Ballard. Aligned with the goals outlined in the SCQWP Drainage and Wastewater Master Plan by Vaughn Bell, the artworks seek to make the invisible visible and connect visitors to an understanding of the flow of water on site and the surrounding neighborhoods.

RYAN! Feddersen has installed a series of rain activated medallions based on community input and ideas exploring the idea of how we use water. The series is currently on view through the next several months while she develops a concept for her permanent artwork. The temporary artworks are installed on the sidewalks at intersections along the future Ship Canal Water Quality Project Tunnel’s path that correspond to where streets direct surface water toward the Ship Canal.  

In this long-range project, many of the permanent works will be installed in 2024, but the artists for those commissions have been selected and many have initial concept ideas.

Jeffrey Veregge (Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Kingston, Washington) and RYAN! Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of the Colville) are currently developing concepts for Ballard and Wallingford respectively, focusing on ideas of both water as well as the traditional uses of the land.

Artist team Preston Singletary (Tlingit) and David Franklin have been commissioned for Fremont/Queen Anne locations. Their artwork will tell the traditional native story of Petrel Guards the Water and Raven Steals the Water Paddle through two large-scale canoe paddle sculptures constructed of glass and steel that flank the ship canal waterway.

Additionally, an artwork by Christian French, Sing, Calypso, features images and a poem embedded into the new 24th Ave Pier. The artwork tells the simple tale of a Fisherman who was saved from drowning by a magical Fish he had spared out of compassion. The artwork is currently closed to the public due to construction.

Artist, Vaughn Bell will be creating a connective thread artwork that will tie the SCQWP themes together that will run the length of the new tunnel.

Throughout the process of construction, opportunities arose for additional artworks to showcase the role of water and provide opportunities for emerging artists.

FLOW 2020 will be an annual program that will use the construction fences along the project as a backdrop to allow artists to showcase their unique voice and provide a changing gallery of experiences for those who walk, bike, drive along the Burke Gillman Trail and throughout the area.

The Ship Canal Water Quality Project, is intended to greatly reduce the amounts of overflows into the Ship Canal that harm fish, wildlife and the environment, but success of the project is that it will serve its function invisibly – the artwork on view will tell the story for years to come and while creating meaningful, inspiring and thought-provoking art experiences in the public realm.