Art Works Blog

Listening to the Landscape in Washington State

Washington, DC

This aerial of the Land Bridge at Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve was taken at the 2007 dedication. Photo by Alicia Muñoz.

With the help of noted artist and architect Maya Lin---designer of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama---the Confluence Project  is pioneering the possibilities of public art with great sensitivity to the environment.

Executive Director Jane Jacobsen describes the project as, ?an art and environmental project helping people look at familiar places in a new way. Maya Lin is designing the art, and Confluence Project is returning the landscape in seven places along the Columbia River to its natural habitat.?

Seven sites have been chosen for the project, including Cape Disappointment State Park, Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, and the Sandy River Delta. As Jacobsen described, careful thought went into choosing each location. ?The seven sites we chose have been gathering places sacred to the Native American tribes for thousands of years, active places historically, and continue to be special to the community now. We want visitors to be able to reflect on their lives now and envision their futures.?

The Maya Lin Bird Blind at the Sandy River Delta. Photo courtesy The Confluence Project.

In fact, several Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest have been important collaborators in the project, which is rooted in traditional sensibilities. ?We strive to listen to the landscape as the Native American population has done for thousands of years,? said Jacobsen. ?We are all one; we are all whole, all growing, living things. Maya really takes into account the topography and her art comes up out of the earth---she does not plop it down on the earth from outside. She makes this public art much more personal and approachable. 'I don?t want the art to be the tallest thing around,? Maya often says.?

A recipient of several NEA grants, most recently the project was awarded an $18,00 grant in March 2010 to develop an interactive website called Journey Book. The multimedia site features in-depth looks at each of the seven Confluence Project locations as well as video interview with project partners, including Maya Lin, Jane Jacobsen, and tribal leaders.

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