gilson middle school

valdez, alaska ~ july 2014

land and sea passage

On July 21, 2014, my assistant and I installed an original suspended art mural in the lobby of Gilson Middle School in Valdez, Alaska.

The City of Valdez has a motto, “where the mountains meet the sea.” The mountains slope down and plunge thousands of feet straight down into deep water. The effect is much like fjords.

Entitled “Land and Sea Passage,” the artwork imagery resembles a water channel or passage between two underwater cliffs, something like a colorful grotto.

Located where the school's architecture narrows, the artwork hangs on a bulkhead wall, high overhead.

The interior opposing walls are painted blue and yellow. The new artwork visually connects them, unifying and enhancing the bright color scheme.

Seven banners are suspended on custom stainless steel brackets (shaped abstractly like kayaks). Eight brackets, each unique, hold the banners at various distances from the wall.

The distances (in inches) are based on the tides (in feet) in Valdez at summer solstice, and then at three-hour increments, in 2014, the year of the building's construction and the art installation.

Here is the view looking up from directly beneath the mural.

The staggering of the banners in the pattern of the solstice tides, poetically embodies the life-changes experienced by middle school students. The visual currents and physical space of “passage” both echo and celebrate the middle school students' life journeys.

The artwork brings the brightest colors of the longest summer day into the school to be enjoyed year round.





the making of

Land and Sea Passage was created in dye-painted silk in the serti method, and then transferred to "Tripoly" polyester.

Click here or on the drawing below to read more about the making of Land and Sea Passage.





The northern sun of Alaska provided us extended daylight hours...a long and productive work day.

Click here or on the photo at right to read and see more on how the mural is installed.








the setting

beautiful Valdez, Alaska

"where the mountains meet the sea"
~ City of Valdez motto

The school is in a spectacular setting. The mountains seem to rise from the depths of the sea. Glaciers descend from the heights and touch the sea, breaking off into turquoise ice bergs.

After the installation, a friend and I did some hiking in the area. And then we took the scenic ferry back toward Anchorage. Click here to see photos of Valdez.




Click here to see more silk commissions.