Written by Maija McKnight
Adjacent to the cultural hub of Seattle Center and under the shadow of the Space Needle, Thomas Street will be updated with a new design and significant pedestrian and bicycle upgrades in upcoming years. Thomas Street Redefined will create an important connection for people walking, biking, and rolling, linking South Lake Union to the Seattle Center. Artist Aaron T Stephan has been commissioned to be part of the design team and selected for the creation of a new public artwork at the site.
The new public art project — a joint effort with the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle City Light — will feature a multi-element artwork exploring the idea of “illumination” that will be integrated as part of the new design within the two blocks of Thomas Street directly East of the Seattle Center (between 5th Ave N, Taylor Avenue and 6th Ave N).
A selection panel of four professional and emerging artists — including members of the community — reviewed applications and interviewed finalists for this important Public Art commission. The panel selected Aaron Stephan based on his extensive portfolio and innovative approach. Much of Stephan’s work repurposes familiar items in new and unexpected ways that invite the viewer to interact. Stephan is specifically interested in using the length of the corridor for repeating artistic elements that crescendo as one walks or bikes through the area and up the hill. As he researches and participates in site visits and planning meetings, Stephan will be developing the concept through 2022 for installation that coincides with the completion of the project, which is expected in late 2023/early 2024.
About Aaron T Stephan
Aaron T Stephan lives and works in Portland, Maine. His work presents a wry look at the world around him, focusing on the complex web of information carried by everyday materials and objects. This exploration has taken a dynamic array of formats including a twenty-foot high table and chairs, a shelter made entirely of books, and a series of drawings reproducing iconic artworks ad infinitum. For additional information about the artist, please visit his website.