Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle
The Forest is Waiting
2001

LOCATION
Delridge Branch
5423 Delridge Way S.W.

FUNDING SOURCE
Libraries for All Bond 1% for Art funds


Sprouting from the façade and entry porch of the Delridge Library are Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle's oversized plants made from hand-forged steel. Representing native Northwest plants, they stand out strikingly from the dark walls. Two sculptural grilles on either side of the main entrance depict the Oregon grape and western bleeding heart. Two other sculptures feature the stream orchid and bunchberry and decorate the south entry. Oversized trilliums emerge from the brick of the library's front wall and highlight the building's signage and tower, enhancing the overall theme of burgeoning local flora.

Inside the entry porch is a giant sitka willow leaf bench, a plant with a rich history of providing essential food and building materials for native peoples. A large spray of red huckleberry is located next to the book drop nearby. With berries the size of melons and leaves that are smooth and curving, the piece is meant to be touched; a fanciful sculpture that acts as an inviting point-of-interest as visitors enter the library.

The artists drew their inspiration from the nearby Longfellow Creek Watershed, an area that underwent a native wildlife habitat and trails restoration project. Focusing attention on native Northwest species, the library visually informs visitors of the rich ecological resource close by and inspires them to think about the sustainability of fragile natural environments. Similarly, by selecting plants with distinct silhouettes that appear in the wild at different times of the year, Whitesavage and Lyle suggest a "nurturing, enveloping canopy," that "represents life, and the living, developing mind."