by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Public artist Mikyoung Kim describes how she's blended the idea of geological strata to form an entrance portal into Sellwood for drivers coming eastbound on the new bridge.Part of the Sellwood Bridge rebuilding project includes public art, funded by Portland’s “Percent for Art” program, operated by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC).

On July 7, RACC announced that Boston-based artist Mikyoung Kim was selected by a panel of local artists, community representatives, and project team members, to create the public art for the east end of the new bridge, when it opens in 2016.

At the historic Oaks Amusement Park Dance Pavilion on July 12, members of the art selection committee and the public were invited to meet Kim, learn more about her background, and see the art concept that won her firm the contract.

Kim began her presentation showing examples of her award-winning international landscape architecture and public art projects.

She then revealed the concept she calls her “Stratum Project”.

“It’s a series of twenty ecologically-inspired, geologic sculptural totems,” Kim said.

“Layers of various recycled and formed materials create a quilted surface that represents earth, water, and sky, as the gateway to the Sellwood community.”

The approximately 20-foot-tall totems, about two feet square, will grace both sides of the block, from the east edge of the bridge along S.E. Tacoma Street, ending at S.E. 6th Avenue.

“When we came to Portland for a site visit,” Kim told the group, “we were fascinated by the idea that many people go across the bridge, and into Sellwood, traveling at speeds of 5, 10, and 30 miles per hour. Our ideas, based on this, turned into one of my first sketches I called ‘Geology Interrupted’.”

The idea is, she continued, that the eyes of drivers and bicyclists will “connect these totems together, visually.”

After she concluded her presentation to the 19 people in attendance, Kim told THE BEE what she intends people to see and feel they pass the project.

“I hope what it does is becomes ‘part of the neighborhood’. And that, when people see it, perhaps from far off, they will recognize it and say to themselves, ‘Oh! I am home’.”

About having public art incorporated into a bridge rebuilding project, Kim said, “The bridge is one of the most public of places. It’s a place that collects people into a corridor, and takes them on a brief journey across a river. So, if it is not a place to ‘celebrate’, I don’t know what is!”

Public art, in general, Kim added, “Brings together all the different cultural and historical aspects of the neighborhood in which we’re working.”

Kim said she and her company, Mikyoung Kim Designs, has been doing projects of this kind for 18 years. “And, we’re thrilled and honored to be selected from among the premier artists against whom we were competing.”

Learn more about the artist online at: HYPERLINK ""

By the way, the art installation on this Multnomah County bridge will be owned by the City of Portland, and maintained by RACC.

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