Water—The Essence of Life
West Seattle Pump Station
Salish motifs reveal connections and continuity in the natural world.
Birds, orcas, salmon, people: Coast Salish iconography adorns the exterior of the West Seattle Pump Station adjacent to Alki Beach in Susan Point’s Water—The Essence of Life, which emphasizes the connections between humans and the natural world while paying tribute to the Indigenous peoples of the area.
Point’s integrated artwork includes a relief mural on the façade of the building and its wing walls, as well as a metal gate design. Both use graphic imagery with motifs representing land, sea, and sky. The gate design brings together humans and birds in a circular pattern inspired by traditional spindle whorls. The mural includes eggs inside the salmon and a baby bird inside the flying birds to indicate an ongoing cycle of life and new beginnings.Point’s artwork at the utilitarian facility has precedent in Salish culture, which traditionally incorporated art into daily life through functional objects such as woven baskets and reed mats. Art was considered an extension of spirituality, expressed in the creation various ritual objects, spirit boards, and house posts.