New Public Artwork in Delridge: “Delridge Know How” by Wowhaus
information from City of Seattle Art Beat
by April Jingco
The view while traveling along West Seattle’s Delridge Way SW just became a little different with the addition of new public art in three locations.
Created by the Wowhaus artist team Ene Osteraas-Constable and Scott Constable, Delridge Know How is a series of bronze stylized nuts and wrenches that sit prominently alongside Delridge Way SW for pedestrians, bus riders, and vehicular traffic to enjoy. Created in coordination with the upcoming Rapid Ride H Line, this new public art creates a new view along the busy corridor.
The artworks are located at three intersections, including Delridge Way SW and SW Henderson Street and Delridge Way SW and 18th Ave SW (east and west sides of the street). Each of the three locations has a series of three sculptures that invite viewers to physically interact with and think about the history of the area.
In the development of the artwork, Wowhaus attended several community meetings, held impromptu focus group meetings on the 120 Metro Bus, hosted a site walkthrough with elementary students from Roxbury Elementary School, and delved deep into the history of the area through resources at the Seattle Public Library and Museum of History and Industry. From this engagement work, the idea for the artwork Delridge Know How was developed.
Delridge Know How recognizes that the foundation of any industry is human know-how and hard work. For generations, waves of immigrants from around the world have come to Delridge to find work and to make a home. Home to a wide range of industries in the past, including shipbuilding, brick making, flour milling, canning and fishing, and the steel mill that persists nearby to this day; Delridge has a rich history of blue-collar industry. A tight-knit, diverse, and hard-working community developed in Delridge, and the neighborhood is proud to continue its tradition of welcoming diverse immigrants to this day.
In a neighborhood that is rapidly changing and growing while continuing to welcome new residents, Delridge Know How captures the persistence of human ingenuity and know-how as new patterns of life and work emerge. A series of nine bronze large-scale nuts and wrench sculptures are integrated with low-maintenance plantings in three medians that herald the entry to South Delridge, inviting engagement and play while evoking the neighborhood’s history of industry and labor. Symbolically, both the nut and the wrench sculptures include repeating elements of a hexagon. The hexagon is the shape created by worker bees that create a series of hexagons in tandem in order to create a honeycomb, a form emblematic of collective community effort.
Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable have collaborated as Wowhaus for over 20 years, creating site-responsive art in public spaces nationwide. Wowhaus explores the common denominators of everyday life, the central question of how things, places, and relationships acquire meaning. They embrace a systems-based, community-engaged approach, finding inspiration in the cultural, historical, and ecological factors that shape a sense of place. Their artwork is oftentimes integrated into existing landscapes and specifically designed to inhabit a specific space, becoming beloved landmarks, icons, or touchstones.