When Lisa Kinoshita was commissioned to complete the city’s latest public art installation in South Tacoma’s STAR Center, she knew she had to create something that reflects the natural environment and history of the area. Her piece, titled “Sempervivum” – Latin for ever living – certainly reflects the former wetlands that existed where the STAR Center currently stands. “I wanted to create an art piece that brought the fascinating natural history of South Tacoma to light, and I was excited that STAR’s wetlands-inspired landscaping – including reed-filled holding ponds that attract ducks, frogs and other wildlife – provided the perfect setting,” Kinoshita said. The piece consists of three large steel sculptures, with two designed as ‘green canopies.’ These six-foot areas are covered with greenroof materials and insulation, and covered with live sedum plants that will ultimately fill in completely over time. Two out of three of the sculptures are made of mild steel designed to rust, which will eventually integrate the art slowly into the natural landscape over time.
Kinoshita, best known locally for her unique jewelry art, says the leap to public art was a fairly natural progression. “Much of my jewelry is architectural, like small-scale sculpture,” she said. “In terms of the concept, it was a small step. But these sculptures are on a 7- to 8-foot scale, and I learned a great deal working with my fabricator, Quinn Honan, to create a trilogy that would work within the context of the marsh-like landscape Metro Parks has created.” Kinoshita received the art commission through the city’s PA:ID (Public Art: In Depth) program last year, and calls the process an important learning experience. “My project required flexibility in terms of site selection and construction, and the project evolved throughout,” she said. “This intensive program developed by Amy McBride really opened up my horizons as an artist.” The process of creating public art meant working with a variety of entities, from Metro Parks and the city of Tacoma to the general public. “I met so many wonderful people on this project,” she said. “It is an honor to have created an art work for the STAR Center and the South Tacoma community.”