Eric Robertson
Evolving Wing and the Gravity of Presence
2003

LOCATION
Seattle City Hall
600 5th Avenue

FUNDING SOURCE
Fleets and Facilities Department 1% for Art


Vancouver, B.C., artist Eric Robertson's wall installation, Evolving Wing and the Gravity of Presence, draws formal inspiration from many Northwest sources. Occupying the northeast corner of the lobby and visible through a bank of windows at the Fifth Avenue entrance to City Hall, the 72-foot-long mixed media installation alludes first to Paddle to Seattle, an event that brings together many Pacific Northwest tribal groups on the water in traditional canoes. Four life-size aluminum canoe gunnels are mounted on the wall, supported by yellow cedar paddles. Where the paddle blades enter the floor, the stone is carved to represent water ripples. Framing each end of the curved wall are yellow cedar paddles measuring more than 11 feet, blades raised vertically in a symbol of honor for the Duwamish and Suquamish nations. Emerging from the paddle blades and along the top of the wall are multiple wood ribs that transform to aluminum; here the reference shifts to Seattle's local aerospace industry. The ribs recall early aircraft wings and the wing flaps of two space shuttles named after the ships which plied local waters. At the center of the artwork are spun copper cones, which resemble both a shuttle's main thrusters and the cedar bark hats worn by paddlers for protection against the elements. Robertson, of First Nations and European descent, describes the artwork as "a visual journey about honor, connection, contradiction and continuum."