Paul Sorey
Salmon Waves
2001

LOCATION
Ballard Locks, next to the Fish Ladder
3015 NW 54th Street

FUNDING SOURCE
1% for Art funds contributed equally by the city of Seattle and King County


A series of seven stainless steel sculptures by artist Paul Sorey spring from the plaza next to the Ballard Locks and celebrate the installation of a fish ladder that allows the essential annual passage of salmon to take place. Titled Salmon Waves, the multifaceted metal shoots end in neat curlicues and together with a surface finish reminiscentof ripples on water the piece is evocative of rolling sea swells.

After creating this sculptural body of water, Sorey integrated a single row of flashing LED lights into each wave to create the illusion of swimming smolt, or juvenile salmon, as they move from the freshwater of Lake Washington to the saltwater of Puget Sound. Appropriately, the display of lights is particularly effective at night when the nocturnal smolt migrates. These lights, with their brief cycle and delicate glow, reflect the fleeting and transitory nature of not only the actual movement of the salmon but also the fragile ecological balance in which the fish live. This highlights the importance of the structural improvements made to the locks in safeguarding a key part of the Northwest ecosystem.