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A Salish Welcome: Salmon Bay, Seattle

A Salish Welcome: Salmon Bay, Seattle
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A Salish Welcome stands at Ballard’s 34th Street southern end as it meets Salmon Bay. Celebrating salmon and indigenous culture, on sunny days it shines colorful light onto the Salmon Bay Natural Area. The light flows through a disk held high by a person, presumedly Salish. The disk, composed of colored glass and aluminum, represents the salmon and egg cycle (Groundswell NW n.d.; Harthorne 2010).

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A Salish Welcome Ballard by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. A Salish Welcome stands near the railroad bridge at the southern end of 34th Street on the north side of Salish Bay, Ballard, Seattle.

A Salish Welcome’s disk, which depicts a male and female salmon surrounding an egg cluster, faces Salmon Bay. It’s a thank you to the juvenile salmon swimming downstream and the adult salmon returning to spawn (Groundswell NW 2011).

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Salish Salmon and Eggs by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. One male and one female steel-cut salmon surround glass eggs.

The cycle’s representation continues within the base on which A Salish Welcome stands. Adults migrate upstream, juveniles swim downstream, and Salish motifs decorate the steel cutouts which cover the concrete base (Groundswell NW 2011). The entire sculpture ties the whole thing together.

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Base Motifs by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Motifs on base.

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Salmon Base by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Salmon on base

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Salmon Base Next by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. More salmon on base

The individual lifts the disk while the base supports him. Carved in clay and wax, moulded and cast in bronze, weaving patterns are similar to those found on basketry and textiles (Groundswell NW 2011).

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A Salmon Welcome: Top of Individual by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Patterns adorn hat and shirt of statue.

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A Salish Welcome: Woven Patterns by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Woven basket hat, and woven and fringed tunic cover A Salish Welcome.

Salmon Bay Natural Area: a Little Ecology and History

A Salish Welcome faces Salmon Bay. The bay was a shallow water estuary approximately 100 years ago. Its tidal influences extended from its mouth on Puget Sound eastward to the Fremont Cut (Taylor Associates, Inc. 2010:2). Salmon Bay provided a variety of food for Indians before it was transformed into an industrial waterway. People clammed, fished, and harvested berries here (Thrush 2007:52). Before the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks were installed to the statue’s east (between 1907 and 1916), people could wade to the other side of Salmon Bay’s mouth at low tide (Thrush 2007:222).

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Mouth of Salmon Bay by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Mouth of Salmon Bay where it meets Puget Sound

The installation of the Locks and shipping lane have transformed the bay. Once a brackish mix of saltwater and freshwater, the transition between the two types is brackish. This abruptness salmon’s ability to find good habitat (Taylor Associates, Inc. 2010:5).

Salmon Bay Natural Area: Protection

“The Salmon Bay Natural Area protects the last stretch of undeveloped wooded land along Salmon Bay (Sustainable Ballard 2008).” It provides refuge for juvenile salmon as they migrate downstream (Sustainable Ballard 2008). A Salish Welcome is part of ongoing recovery efforts to restore native salmon. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) purchased the parcel on 34th Street with four other parcels to help the recovery. Downslope from this location, juvenile salmon escape to the shallows and eat daphnia fly larvae before continuing to Puget Sound. Groundswell NW developed the Salmon Bay Natural Area in partnership with SPU, and continue to do so (Groundswell 2011).

A Salish Welcome was part of this endeavor. Funded by Department of Neighborhood’s Neighborhood Matching Fund and SPU’s 1% for the Arts, its installation was spearheaded by Groundswell NW and the Office of Arts and Culture (Groundswell 2011).

A Salish Welcome: Marvin Oliver

Marvin Oliver designed and created A Salish Welcome. The Quinault/Isleta-Pueblo artist’s career spans over 40 years, and includes work in steel, glass, bronze, and cedar. He is a professor of American Indian Studies at University of Washington. In addition, he serves as Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Native American Art at the Burke Museum. He also holds a part-time position at the University of Alaska Ketchikan (Oliver n.d.).

His work is really extraordinary. To see additional examples, click here to reach his website’s “selected works.”

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    References

    Groundswell NW
    n.d. Oliver to Create Sculpture for Salmon Bay Natural Area. Groundswell NW (posted online [no date; but given the content, it was probably before July 2010]). Electronic document, http://www.groundswellnw.org/news-read-more/96-oliver-to-create-sculpture-for-salmon-bay-natural-area-.html, accessed October 5, 2012.

    2011 Salmon Bay Natural Area Stewardship. Groundswell NW (posted online [no date; but given the content, it was probably May or June 2011). Electronic document, http://www.groundswellnw.org/news-read-more/112-salmon-bay-events-to-beautify-the-neighborhood.html, accessed October 5, 2012.

    Harthorne, Michael
    2010 Welcome Figure Installed at Salmon Bay Natural Area. Ballard News-Tribune (published online July 14, 2010). Electronic document, http://www.ballardnewstribune.com/2010/07/14/news/welcome-figure-installed-salmon-bay-natural-area, accessed October 5, 2012.

    Oliver, Marvin E.
    n.d. Biography. Marvin Oliver (posted online, no date – page of website). Electronic document, http://www.marvinoliver.com/The_Artist/Biography.html, accessed October 5, 2012.

    Taylor Associates, Inc.
    2010 Salmon Bay Estuary Synthesis Report: Including Assessment of Proposed Daylighting of Wolfe Creek Project: Lake Washington, Cedar, Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8). Prepared by Taylor Associates, Inc., Seattle, Washington. Prepared fro Lake Washington, Cedar, Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8) Estuary and Nearshore Workgroup. Electronic document, http://www.govlink.org/watersheds/8/reports/SalmonBayEstuary-SynthesisReport-January2010.pdf, accessed October 5, 2012.

    Thrush, Coll
    2007 Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.

    Creative Commons License
    A Salish Welcome: Salmon Bay, Seattle by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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