Flow & Flower - CODAworx

Flow & Flower

Submitted by Paul Sorey

Client: Maple Valley WA School District

Location: Maple Valley, WA, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $75,000

Project Team


Mike Janes

DLR Group

Industry Resource

Marjorie Lund

Lund Opsahl LLC, Structural Engineers

Industry Resource

David Killian

Skanska USA Building


Paul Sorey

Public Art Agent

Mike Sweney

Washington State Arts Commission


Tahoma School District No. 409


As a river flows it shapes the landscape. It lives in the minds and hearts of people who live near it. Young plants receive nourishment from the endless supply of water and minerals, enabling them to grow and mature. In much the same way an institution of learning nourishes hungry minds with a flow of information, ideas, and experiences that help bring about the flowering of each individual.

Bas-relief: stainless steel, 80' width x 20' height x 12” deep
Free-stainding: stainless steel and glass, 14' height x 12' width x 16' length


Sorey's inspiration comes from close observation and careful listening. He met four times with the art selection committee, including the architect, the builder, some faculty, students and school board members, to develop and refine the art concept. Sorey listened to desires expressed by the committee: art that expresses something of education and relates to the wider community, with some color, and a wow factor. Sorey observed that the Cedar River, carving a meandering path through Maple Valley, is a prominent feature of the community, and connected the idea of the nurturing flow of the river with flow of information and experiences at the school.

Sorey's background in landscape architecture gives him the tools to effectively work with a site and make improvements, small or large, to the comfort and enjoyment of users of the space. The entrance, as designed, seemed too 'exposed' and large in scale for a pedestrian to feel comfortable. A river is also a metaphor for the flow of people entering and leaving the building. The artwork acts like a sandbar in the river, creating eddies of slower movement where people can comfortably pause, check their cell phones, chat with others, observe and be observed.


Collaboration with project partners was very fruitful. Sorey's design process was greatly assisted by discussion, reactions and suggestions from the committee. The builder agreed to provide wall anchors (locations marked on wall by artist), footing slab and anchors for the free-standing artwork, plus special textured and colored concrete paving marking the 'river' on the ground plane around the artwork. The architect coordinated the design and layout of the art elements with the builder and suggested ways to meet ADA and other technical standards.