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Origami Tessellation anchors the median at Mercer Street and Boren Avenue North.

Posted October 31, 2012 in Features

Public Sculpture Highlights Mercer Makeover

On October 21, the South Lake Union neighborhood welcomed a new resident to the neighborhood – a tall, willowy beauty named Origami Tessellation 324.3.4 (Fractured). The 28-foot stainless steel sculpture is geometrically patterned and perforated to let white light emanate from within, and now anchors the median at Mercer Street and Boren Avenue North, near Amazon and the Swedish Primary Care clinic.

Seattle artist Ellen Sollod created the public artwork, one of many site-specific pieces she’s designed over the past two decades. Her work is a familiar sight in the neighborhood; she recently produced distinctive visual elements for Mercer Corridor East − blue lighted finials on street lights and lighted pavers. Over the next year, benches, utility covers and mosaic tiles will also be installed on Valley Street to complement the sculpture and area landscaping.

Sollod cites a desire to arrest viewers in the moment with visual metaphors that probe personal and social issues.

Origami Tessellation was specifically designed for its South Lake Union setting,” Sollod said. “I was interested in speaking to the future of SLU and struck by the growth of biotech and high tech. At the same time, we have the newly improved Lake Union Park, so I wanted to talk about nature. A tessellation is a repetitive pattern, like a fractal, and those are common in nature, science and art. My goal was to speak to all three and this form seemed right.”

Fabrication of Origami Tessellation was performed by artisans at Seattle’s Fabrication Specialties Ltd., who took approximately eight months to perfect the piece. Sollod made several incarnations in paper and cardboard, examining its perforation pattern from every angle. The fabricators conducted trial runs themselves with smaller metal versions of the piece before locking in the final form.

The end result is a slender, faceted monolith that reflects sunlight by day and glows warmly at night.

“I hope it becomes a bit of a landmark for the Mercer Corridor,” Sollod said, “Something to show people where they are – something to identify with South Lake Union.”

Origami Tessellation 324.3.4 (Fractured) was commissioned with Seattle Department of Transportation One Percent for Art funds and administered by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Learn more about Ellen Sollod’s artwork here.

Posted by DiscoverSLU on Oct. 31
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