Public art to mark the Prairie Line Trail through UW Tacoma
November 10, 2011
“Temporal Terminus” will be on display now through the end of November.
Don't worry if you see Godzilla-sized eyes peering down from a skybridge or faux prairie grass suddenly sprouting atop railroad tracks on the University of Washington Tacoma campus.
It’s all part of a temporary public art installation along the historic Prairie Line Trail through downtown Tacoma. Temporal Terminus: Marking the Line will be on display this weekend through the end of November.
A tour of Temporal Terminus will kick off the installation at 2 p.m. Saturday, starting at Tollefson Plaza.
The eight-piece exhibit includes three works at UW Tacoma:
Ghost Prairie – Colorful plastic zip ties inserted into Masonite boards form an 18-foot stretch of artificial prairie on existing railway.
Envision – Gigantic eyes gaze down on the campus from the pedestrian skyway connecting the Science Building and Keystone. The eyes belong to Abraham Lincoln, who dreamed of completing a transcontinental rail to the Pacific.
Manifest Destiny – A series of markers reminiscent of Northern Pacific Railroad signs create a Tacoma timeline.
Sponsored by the Tacoma Arts Commission and UW Tacoma, the exhibit commemorates the Prairie Line Trail segment that was built in the 1870s as the western end of the northern transcontinental railroad.
The segment traversed downtown Tacoma from South 25th Street, across the UW Tacoma campus, down to the waterfront. UW Tacoma is developing its portion of the trail into public pathways and greenspace to connect to the rest of the trail the city is developing.
“Be on the lookout for a number of playful, interactive artworks along the Prairie Line Trail,” said City of Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride, “This trail is going to change Tacoma for the better, creating a much-needed pedestrian and bike connection between downtown and the water. The works presented in Temporal Terminus are just a glimpse of the incredible potential of the trail.”
Temporal Terminus features artwork by teams of Tacoma artists and a sculptural work by the national design team, Thoughtbarn, of Austin, Texas. Thoughtbarn’s participation was funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant secured by the City of Tacoma.
Thoughtbarn artists Lucy Begg and Robert Gay began assembling their exhibit, Ghost Prairie, on Wednesday with the help of art students from the Tacoma School of the Arts.
Ghost Prairie recalls the rail line’s geographic namesake. Neon-bright plastic zip ties stand like blades of prairie grass jutting from undulating forms made of Masonite board. The artificial prairie segments will be placed atop existing railway segments on campus.
“The idea was to bring alive some of the railroad history,” Begg said.
Through research and two earlier visits to the South Sound, Begg and Gay based the exhibit on the mysterious hump-shaped Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve in Thurston County, home to one of the last native prairielands in the South Sound.
The artists digitized photos of the Mima Mounds to deduce the separate colors that make up the grasses, and patterned the work’s structural forms on the actual mound formations.
School of the Arts students spent hours tying yellow, orange, white and green zip ties into the forms, following intricate color guides the artists created.
The crew attracted curious glances from passersby as they worked in a vacant storefront in the university’s Joy Building on Pacific Avenue.
“We love it,” Gay said of the project. “It’s been a great opportunity to work with the arts community in Tacoma.”
Temporal Terminus includes work by national design team, Thoughtbarn, composed of Lucy Begg and Robert Gay. Terminus also features work created by teams of Tacoma artists Jennifer Renee Adams, Kyle Dillehay, Kristin Giordano, Jeremy N. Gregory, Diane Hansen, Christopher Jordan, Lance Kagey, Lisa Kinoshita, Ed Kroupa, Bret Lyon, Janet Marcavage, Maria Olga Meneses, Nicholas Nyland, Chandler O'Leary, Elise Richman, Claudia Riedener, Holly A. Senn, Chris Sharp, James Grayson Sinding and Kenji Stoll.
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