South Treatment Plant
A kinetic sculpture made from reclaimed elements mimics the movement inside this wastewater treatment plant.
A 2,400-pound stainless steel surplus impellor from King County’s South Treatment Plant in Renton, WA, was transformed into Donald Fels’ Water Plant.Seemingly floating within a reflecting pool, the impellor’s five blades form a geometric, mandala-like flower that serves as the core of the artwork. Beneath it, a series of 10 connected equilateral triangles—a truncated icosahedron, Plato’s solid for water—create the base of the work and the flower’s sepal. (This triangular form also references the molecular structure of water, the Hindu symbol for water, and the alchemical symbol of water.) Five triangular petals serve as water catchment devices and five curved stamens are topped with laboratory funnels that act as the flower’s anthers. Rivets and other visible fasteners secure the elements, imparting a manufactured, industrial sensibility. Fels actively collaborated with South Plant technicians and metal fabricator Benson Vess to bring his vision to life.
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Water, balance, and gravity animate the sculpture’s movement, echoing the work of the facility in which water is cleaned as it flows. In a continuous, random order, the funnels and petals gradually fill with water. Once they’re full enough to tip, they gently dip downward, releasing water into the pond before returning to an upright position.Based in Fall City, WA, Fels also regularly lives and works in Europe and Asia, creating artwork in a wide range of media. He has received numerous awards, residencies and fellowships internationally and his projects frequently explore the exchange of materials, ideas and culture.