We were lucky to have Nicole Kistler, one of the art directors of the project, on-site to engage the students in several meaningful discussions about the other pieces made by Duwamish Revealed artists in T-107. Also, friend and photographer Sherry Loesser stopped by to capture the students and me at work. The photos in this blog were taken by her.
The work continued on an overcast morning that soon cleared to sunshine and 70 degrees. When I arrived at T-107, a brown rabbit was sitting next to the sculpture, and an eagle was perched on a post in the Duwamish River directly across from me. Soon herons, geese, crows, and some white water fowl came to the area between Kellog Island and the riverbank below us. A tiny EPA boat with three people came by and collected a sample, presumably from the bottom of this shallow part of the river. This section of the river becomes a giant puddle at low tide.
I worked from the lower level of the scaffolding today, after placing some bamboo notched poles horizontally at the top to help keep the circular form. A couple came by and the man said, “That looks like a giant fish trap,” little did he know how he had made my day! The scaffolding is down, off site, and I am ready for the students to come help me continue from the mid-section to the base.
The scaffolding is up, two towers, two stories high. A big thanks to Kenny Oakins for helping me get this bad boy up! I started weaving the very top section yesterday and am working my way down, splicing the sisal, tying to the bamboo, and carefully maneuvering around the planks at the top. While I work, herons swoop onto log jams in the Duwamish and seagulls chase eagles. Trains go by and the occasional person wanders through the park. The dichotomy of wildlife and industry is mind-blowing. Grateful to be doing this in the sunshine!
After a few days of getting the bamboo poles ready for the project, which involved sawing them to length (17′), drilling them out from the bottom (3/8″), and reinforcing the bases with rope and bicycle inner tubes, I got to load them onto my friend’s van (thanks Johnsen’s) and make a slow journey with blinking hazard lights over the Spokane Street Bridge, also known as the West SeattleLow-Level Bridge. In no hurry, I got to stop and see this turn leaf bridge open when a boat sauntered by. This is probably the most elegant opening a bridge can have. Project starts tomorrow on the site.
Here are some images of a fish trap model from the 8th grade class that is also working on this project. Some of them experimented with their own styles of wrapping. Theirs were tight and very consistent weaves. I’m impressed by how focused they were. This type of repetitive craft work is seldom practiced at school, but so rewarding and calming. I could see students in the flow.
This week the 4th and 5th grade students built models of native fish traps with cardboard, bamboo skewer sticks, rubber bands, and raffia.
Why make a model? “So you can work out the problems before you begin the real thing.” You might have figured out by now that we are going to build a giant, artistic impression of a fish trap that might have been used along the Duwamish River. We will stand it upright for all to see.
A Native weaving song was played in the classroom and under hushed voices, they began to concentrate on each loop. The weaving got better, and soon the models were hanging from the ceiling. Follow us to see what’s next!
This is the first of many blogposts about my project, one of numerous endeavors that is part of the Duwamish Revealed, a creative celebration acknowledging Seattle’s only river, the Duwamish (a project of ECOSS).
I will be chronicling my interaction with students and teachers from Pathfinder School, as well as the progression of the project (to be revealed in the next installment). The Duwamish Revealed celebration will take place from June 1 -Sept. 30th in the river, along the shores, and at various access points and historical locales near the river. At our first meeting, students aged 9-14 were asked on a questionnaire: When you think about the Duwamish River, what words come to mind? These are their words, put loosely into categories.
pollution – polluted – dirty – disgusting – gross – trashy and murky – toxic –I see the waterways and how dark the water is a river with a lot of boats – industry – industrial – Georgetown – bridge – oil
Duwamish Native tribe – the tribe – tribes – the Duwamish Native American territory – Chief Sealth’s mom – Seattle – history – potlatch – stories -canoe – Native Americans – Native American river – long houses – culture – cultural-historical site
ecosystem – salmon – life – nature – habitat – clean – fish – pretty – beautiful – green – old -rocks-water