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Gregory Fields

South Park Identifier by Gregory Fields

Background and Concept

The striking characteristics of the South Park neighborhood are its wonderful racial and cultural diversity, and the dramatic juxtaposition of heavy industry with residential housing. People from many corners of the globe live in South Park; along with the predominant Latino and Anglo populations one finds Vietnamese, Africans, Tongans, Native Americans and others. Behind the present neighborhood lies a history of centuries old Duwamish tribe presence, early American settlers, Italian and Japanese truck farmers, Boeing worker housing, and shoreline living on the ever present Duwamish Waterway.

To reflect the identity of the neighborhood and to bring art to as much of the five blocks of the project area as possible, the final design consists of both vertical and horizontal elements. Like the two towers of the nearby 14th Ave S bridge, two ceramic pillars would stand at the northern and southern ends of the business district, welcoming people in both moving vehicles and on foot with easily seen sculpture. Filled with carvings inspired by decorative ornament from cultures represented by South Park inhabitants, these sturdy columns will remind people of the strength of local ancestors and of the unity amidst the cultural diversity seen in the neighborhood.

Between the two pillars, the art moves to ground level to attract the eyes of local pedestrians. Placed at numerous spots on both sides of the street on all five blocks will be six inch wide strips of textured and glazed ceramic tile stretching across the sidewalk. Perpendicular to the street these bands of color and pattern, loosely derived from textile and pottery decoration from around the world, will move underfoot several times each block, further enlivening one’s experience of South Park’s downtown district.