Wednesday, July 26, 2017 This Week's Paper

Poetry in Motion

This month, with the unveiling of artist James Grayson Sinding’s latest temporary installation “Words,” Tollefson Plaza will be filled with poetry, lyrics, rhymes and sentences – all created by the public.

On Aug. 6, Sinding introduced his latest project to the community by dramatically emptying hundreds of hand-painted, life-sized refrigerator magnet-style wooden words from the back of a shiny dump truck.

It did not take long for kids and adults alike to begin interacting with the words, creating their own sentences, fragments and creative statements.

“This project is genius – I’ve never seen anything like it,” onlooker Joe Zeiger said.

The project is presented in conjunction with Spaceworks Tacoma, the Tacoma Arts Commission and the Tacoma Art Museum.

“This project is about community building and using public space in inspiring ways,” said Courtney Vowels, director of education for the Tacoma Art Museum. “It’s great to see people coming together downtown and having so much fun.”

Sinding created a similar installation last year, using colorful letters, rather than words. The award-winning installation “Letters” was an instant hit, prompting him to embark on a similar project again this year.

“Letters” was recently recognized by Americans for the Arts 2011 Public Art Network Year in Review as an example of an outstanding public art project. Out of 430 projects submitted from across the country, only 47 were selected for the recognition.

This year, Sinding has spent more than four months on “Words,” creating approximately 500 pieces.

“What I consider to be my part of the project – making and delivering the pieces – is now finished,” Sinding said. “The rest of the project is up to the citizens of Tacoma to do what they will with the pieces.”

The installation was introduced during the Tacoma Art Museum’s Free Summer Community Festival: Best of the Northwest, where local artists and members of the community spent the morning creating unique chalk art throughout the plaza.

The installation will be available through the end of August, and the public is invited to create their own messages, climb, stack and interact with the exhibit while they can.