Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Evan Blackwell Commissioned for South County Recycling + Transfer Station

Keith Stevenson and Tyson Simmons, both Muckleshoot, work on ceremonial boards in the Southern Salish style during the seventh History and Cultural Summit held at Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center on Saturday, Oct. 5. The summit focused on Columbia River Chinookan Art and those who continue its practice. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals).

Even as we face great uncertainty, many of King County’s capital projects are moving forward as planned,  and although the ways we commission and create work must shift, we’re thrilled to celebrate some recent triumphs!

Essential services are high on our minds right now. We extend gratitude to all essential workers, and in that spirit, we are excited to advance the replacement of the South County Recycling and Transfer Station into the next phase of design and development. This project has been long-anticipated, as the existing Algona Transfer Station facility cannot keep up with the volume of users and services a large swath of South King County. The new facility, which will be constructed north of the existing facility, will bring additional services including recycling, yard waste, and hazardous waste disposal and will also include roadway improvements to the West Valley Highway. Set to be completed by 2024, this project is seeking Petal Certification through the Living Building Challenge—it’s a demonstrated commitment to the County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan. We’re proud to join with King County Solid Waste Division to announce the selection of artists for two public art projects associated with this site.

First, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s Cultural Division, led by Willard Bill Jr. and Lead Cultural Arts Educators Tyson Simmons and Keith Stevenson, have been commissioned to create site-responsive and -integrated permanent artwork. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe seeks to “create regenerative spaces for people in natural ecosystems” and is committed to the support, cultivation, preservation, and sharing of cultural traditions. They are interested in accessing ancestral teachings, translated through design, artwork and a holistic approach to the environs of the site, which sits close to the Muckleshoot Reservation and whose wetlands and Algona Creek Tributary feed into the White River watershed—a sacred resource to the Muckleshoot. This team of artists have created work throughout the region, including commissions for the Burke Museum and, most recently, a project for the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

Evan Blackwell, Metropolis, 2011. Galvanized and stainless steel. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Second, a generative artist residency has been awarded to Evan Blackwell. Blackwell is a visual artist and a faculty member at Evergreen State College, where he has taught interdisciplinary courses since 2010. Evan’s work is deeply rooted in social practice and community engagement. He says that the “thread that connects my background in craft with my current studio practice is an abiding fascination with materials and objects,” some of which would otherwise enter the waste stream. “Changing the purpose of mass-produced and discarded products becomes a way for me to evoke a deeper meaning and a new awareness of the resources around me.” Blackwell will create a body of artwork over three years. Selected works will become part of the King County Art Collection and be installed at other Solid Waste Division facilities.

Both projects may occur with some overlap and interaction between the respective artists, and most certainly in coordination with the project design team. This is the first commission with 4Culture for both the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Evan Blackwell. We are eager to get to work and thankful to have come this far!