Otters

Submitted by Matt Babcock

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Client: Washington State Arts Commission and North Mason School DIstrict

Location: Belfair, WA, United States

Completion date: Jan 01, 2018

Artwork budget: $55,000

Overview

The site is a community gathering place used for school, athletics, church, and other activities. The subject, a family of river otters exploring their surroundings, suggests themes such as play, curiosity, active outdoor pursuits, and family, which reflect how the campus is used.

Boulders offer seating for group interaction and individual reflection.

River otters inhabit nearby salt marshes. They are valued by the community as part of the area’s unique natural environment.

The sculptures’ color reflects the vigor and joie de vivre of the subject and engages viewers’ attention. The gestural, calligraphic style of the sculptures captures the wriggling action of otters playing.

Goals

The selection committee's goals included interactive artwork incorporating seating and referencing the natural environment around Belfair. The artist was selected from the state AIPP roster because of experience relevant to these goals, which remained central throughout the process. The layout of the plaza was revised with input from the artist to integrate the artwork with site design and pedestrian circulation.

Process

The piece was designed, fabricated, and installed by the artist. The artist was selected for this commission from the state AIPP roster. The work was facilitated by the Washington State Arts Commission according to a detailed, prescribed, iterative process for documentation, presentation, feedback, and approval. Approvals included an appointed selection committee, the North Mason School District, the Arts Commission, and two conservators (one on the Arts Commission staff, one outside consultant). Coordination with a campus improvement project (architect and builders) was required. The design and location of the project evolved as the requirements of the campus improvement project changed. The artist was responsible for the work of several subcontractors, including structural engineering, painting, and stone work.

Additional Information

Materials include painted aluminum and granite. Installation overall 3.5'H x 17'W x 14'D. Weight approx. 10 tons.