Local artists create Native American canoe paddles for Ship Canal Water Quality project

Public art is in the works as part of the Ship Canal water quality improvement project.

The project is to build a 2.7-mile, 18-foot-diameter tunnel that will capture and temporarily hold more than 29 million gallons of stormwater and sewage during heavy rains. The flows will then be sent to the King County West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Magnolia.

The project includes several sites, all along the Ship Canal in Wallingford, Fremont, Queen Anne, and Ballard.

Seattle Public Utilities has commissioned several artists to create public art at the project sites, two of which have concept designs which SPU is sharing with the public.

The artists for the Fremont and Queen Anne sites, Preston Singletary and David Franklin, have designed two Native American canoe paddles*, which represent the story of Raven and Petrel. Here is the story, from their concept design page:

Raven was traveling and made Petrel’s acquaintance. Petrel lived near a natural water spring which he kept to himself. Petrel did not trust Raven because he’d heard Raven was a conniving fellow. It got to be dusk and Raven told Petrel “I’ll just stay here till the morning and be on my way”. Petrel would not leave Raven alone at his water source, but eventually fell asleep.
When Petrel was sleeping Raven took Dog feces and spread it on Petrel’s buttocks. At daybreak, Raven exclaimed “Hey brother, you’ve defecated on yourself while you were sleeping!” Petrel was embarrassed and left to clean himself off. When Petrel was away, Raven swallowed up that entire water source. Raven was engorged with water and flew off. He was having a hard time keeping all the water in and it dribbled out of his beak. The water flowed down to the earth and became the rivers and the streams.
This is the origin of the rivers, stream and waterways.

The two paddles will be placed on either side of the Ship Canal in Fremont and Queen Anne.

Crews are currently working on soil remediation at the Ballard site after constructing a new pier at the end of 24th Ave NW.

Artist Ryan! Feddersen is working on concepts for the Wallingford site, and has asked people questions: “What are some of the ways you use water?” and “How would the surface water flow from your neighborhood to the Ship Canal?”

To learn more about the project, visit the Ship Canal Water Quality Project website.

*The original version of this story referred to the artwork as spears. Seattle Public Utilities has corrected their original statement to clarify that the artwork is in fact canoe paddles.

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