The new permanent artwork by Norie Sato was put up on the waterfront

The new permanent artwork by Norie Sato was put up on the waterfront

The Union Street Pedestrian Bridge now features artwork by Norie Sato, an artist from Seattle. Two components created by Sato — a screen wall and a gigantic sculpture — adorn the new route, elevator, and stairs that allow access from Western Avenue at Union Street to Alaskan Way and the waterfront. The pedestrian bridge and artwork will debut in November as part of the Seattle Waterfront Program overseen by the City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects and financed by the Office of Arts & Culture’s 1% for Art program.

We are excited to include Norie Sato’s artwork at the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge. This commission is the newest addition to a program of permanent artworks that will be integrated into the Seattle waterfront. Collectively, these artworks reveal the environment and reinforce the culture of this unique place.

Angela Brady, Director of the Waterfront Program of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Project.

Norie Sato collaborated with the project design team, comprised of Schemata Architects, James Corner Field Operations, and V + M Structural Engineers, to create original artwork for the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge between Western Avenue and Alaskan Way. Her artwork is influenced by the natural environment that nevertheless manages to make itself felt on the industrial waterfront. While conducting research for her piece, the artist discovered a fern growing out of a vertical crack in one of the surrounding buildings. The artwork was inspired by the fern’s courage in the face of manmade surroundings. She paired this fern image with that of a seagull, whose feathers and wing shape have a visual connection to the initial fern frond idea.

Both flora and wildlife are shown on the anodized aluminum and stainless steel screen that runs the length of the pedestrian bridge and wraps the structure’s corners. Modulated perforations on the wall of the screen reveal pictures of fern fronds. A stainless steel laser-cut abstraction of a seagull’s wing span is superimposed on the central portion. Subtle illumination and sweeping sunlight illuminate the wall.

A roughly 40-foot-tall sculpture of stainless steel arches above the new Union Street stairs. Emerging from a fern-filled garden bed, the sculpture’s abstract form, which was derived from the fern, also has various connections, depending on the viewer. The parts radiating from a central spine could be the pinnules (leaves) of a fern, but they could also relate to various natural things along our coastline. They have been rendered using cutouts and holes – some abstract and some representational – that offer both visual activity and a sense of ethereality.

The artist has a personal connection to this project: in 1991, Sato produced a temporary artwork on the waterfront that honored the spot of her ship’s arrival in the United States.

Both of these components of flora and wildlife are depicted on the anodized aluminum and stainless steel screen that runs the length of the pedestrian bridge and curves around the corners of the structure. Modulated perforations on the screen’s wall display pictures of fern fronds. A laser-cut stainless steel abstraction of a seagull’s wing span is inlaid in the centre portion. The wall is illuminated by subtle illumination and raking sunshine.

A 40-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture spans above the new Union Street staircase. Depending on the beholder, the sculpture’s abstract form, which was derived from the fern, and which rises from a garden bed filled with ferns, evokes additional associations. The elements coming from a central spine may be the pinnules (leaves) of a fern, but they may also relate to other natural features along our coastline. They have been rendered using cutouts and holes – some abstract and some representational – that create a sense of visual activity and ethereality simultaneously.

This piece has a personal significance for the artist: in 1991, Sato made a temporary work of art on the waterfront that marked the spot where she arrived in the United States via ship.

Norie Sato’s use of the fern for her permanent artwork is inspired. Ferns are ubiquitous to the Pacific Northwest and are associated with water and symbolize new life and new beginnings. The Seattle Waterfront is now emerging as an inclusive place of gathering for all of Seattle and its public art draws us to current and upcoming opportunities to do so through the waterfront program and its artists.

The anodized aluminum and stainless steel screen that runs the length of the pedestrian bridge and wraps the structure’s corners displays both of these flora and animal aspects. Modulated perforations in the screen wall display fern frond pictures. A laser-cut stainless steel abstraction of a seagull’s wing span is layered in the centre part. Subtle illumination and raking sunlight cause the wall to radiate.

A roughly 40-foot-tall sculpture of stainless steel arches above the new Union Street staircase. Depending on the beholder, the sculpture’s abstract form, which was derived from the fern, and which rises from a fern-filled garden bed, has other associations. The elements emerging from a central spine could be the pinnules (leaves) of the fern, but they could also relate to various natural features along our coastline. They have been rendered using cutouts and perforations – some abstract and some representational – that provide a sense of visual activity and ethereality simultaneously.

This piece has a personal significance for the artist: in 1991, Sato made a temporary work of art on the waterfront that marked the spot of her ship’s arrival in the United States.

One of my hopes for the Waterfront is that it creates moments of magic and wonder for people who live here, and may feel very familiar with Seattle, and yet when they come down to the Waterfront, there will be moments where they feel, ‘Wow, this is a fantastic place.”

Norie Sato, artist

There are nine additional permanent art commissions in the Seattle Waterfront art program that investigate both the natural environment and the Indigenous roots of Seattle’s coastline. Along the promenade and along the Overlook Walk, seven artists from local tribes have created art installations. Also among the artworks that will be installed within the next few years is Buster Simpson’s along the habitat beach, south of Colman Dock.

This artwork was commissioned with Seattle Department of Transportation Central Waterfront 1% for Art money and managed by the Office of Arts & Culture and the Office of Waterfront and Civic projects.

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