Gloria Bornstein
Neototems
1995

LOCATION
Southwest corner of Seattle Center's International Fountain

FUNDING SOURCE
Seattle Center Levy 1% for Art funds and construction funds


Two bronze whales, a mother and her calf, appear to swim through the lawn bordering Seattle Center's International Fountain, their backs cresting above concrete pavers inlaid to resemble the surface patterns of water. The smooth, broad backs of the animals are near-life size, heightening the sense that the whales are indeed traveling beneath Center grounds. This imagery evokes a Native American myth of an ancient underground spring located nearby that allowed whales to travel between Elliot Bay and Lake Union. The myth, written in both English and Lushootseed (Salish Native American language), is inlaid in bronze letters on the cast-concrete tail of the mother whale. The absence of a pedestal or plinth enhances the feeling of spotting a whale in the middle of such a mythical journey. The whales interact directly with their surroundings, merging with the visitor's environment and encouraging people to walk and play among them.

According to Bornstein: "The title Neototems honors Native American belief and gives symbolic form to western culture's renewed sense of humankind's connection to animals and the natural environment."