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  • Writer's picturekristi park

City of Kirkland Greenway Art Series, entitled Biophilia

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

Biophilia. 2021

The sculpture series, entitled Biophilia, located on Kirkland’s 128th Ave NE greenway, reflects the expressed ideas, stories, and artistic preferences derived from a robust community engagement process with the North and South Rose Hill neighborhoods in the fall of 2020. The engagement process indicated a strong admiration for nature, and in particular animals, with an aesthetic preference towards natural materials.

Kristi M. Park, an artist and landscape architect, translated the neighborhood input into a series of five sculptures that play with the scale and shape of animals and insects that live, or have lived, in the Rose Hill neighborhoods.

This art serves as a visual reminder that there are many creatures living amongst us and that we are all inhabiting the Rose Hill neighborhoods together. The sculptures are scaled to a human-size to reinforce a resilient relationship between all species from the smallest dragonfly to the industrious beaver. A mutual appreciation for all living species, as equal participants in urban systems, will allow the greenway to thrive.

The use of Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) as the medium for the art was intentional. First, Western red cedar is a locally sourced material. In the case of this sculpture series, reclaimed cedar was used; no trees were harmed in the creation of this art! Secondly, the neighborhood indicated a preference towards wood textures. Third, wood is incredibly strong and enduring, but similar to the animals the sculptures represent, wood as an artistic material must be respected from a distance due to its softness in structure. Last, but not least, like the cedar trees the art was made from, when this art has reached the end of its lifespan, it can be returned to the forest to continue its life cycle as soil nutrients.

This art exists on the lands and ecologies of the past and present Coast Salish Peoples. An appreciation for learning was a key component of the art-making process. We are thankful for the translation of the animal names into the Southern Lushootseed language as generously provided by University of Washington Professor Tami Hohn.

As the artist, I wish to express my deep thankfulness to the many individuals and organizations who helped make this art a reality. Thank you to the City of Kirkland, in particular Laura Drake, PE, for her steadfast project management and coordination. Thank you to the Kirkland Cultural Art’s Commission for their encouragement and for contributing to the community engagement process. Thank you also to the North and Rose Hill leaders and liaisons who helped to foster robust community participation. A big thank you to Brian Walkenhauer, SE with Coffman Engineers for providing structural recommendations. Thank you to Adam Munro, who salvaged and rough-cut wood sculpture parts and who generously dedicated a corner of his stockyard to hold the large slabs of cedar for our project for many months. Thank you again to Professor Tami Hohn for providing cultural insights and Southern Lushootseed translations. Thank you to Colin, Julie, and Matt for your fabrication advice. Thank you to our junior apprentice, Maria, for enduring full days of installing art in the cold winter rains. And last but not least, thank you to the wonderful residents of North and South Rose Hill. Over one hundred people participated in the community engagement process and many folks stopped by during the art installation process to offer help, words of encouragement, and to express their thankfulness for the art placed in their neighborhood.

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