A Seattle artist inspired by the tsunami in Japan and the fallout from the radiation leaking from a nuclear power facility recently traveled to the defunct cooling towers at the Satsop Business Park to embark on her latest multi-media artwork.
The result is “Echo at Satsop” on display now at the Davidson Galleries in Seattle. The exhibit runs through Sept. 28.
Artist Etsuko Ichikawa was born in Seattle and studied painting at Tokyo Zokei University. In 1993, she moved to Seattle and worked with well-known glass artist Dale Chihuly. Her work focuses on using a unique “pyrograph technique – drawing with molten glass on paper,” according to her biography on the gallery’s website.
“The artist was granted access to the decommissioned Satsop nuclear facility in southern Washington state where she composed video footage and collected sound ‘echo’ samples used in works for this series,” the gallery’s description states. “This evocative show will include one sculpture/sound installation, 2D and 3D pyrographs and aquagraphs, and a short film, directed and produced by the artist, titled “Echo at Satsop.”
Jeffery Kuiper, who works at the gallery, said that Ichikawa hired a sound engineer to record the unique sounds inside the cooling tower. From the top of the tower, she used a reed to drip water down to the base. On the bottom, she would clap and record the sound it would make as it resonates throughout the tower.
“This was used in the film she created and in the installation at the gallery as well,” Kuiper said. “It’s all an exploration of how she is reacting to those tragedies but in a very hopeful more spiritualish way.”
The water, in particular, was an “integral part of creating the sound,” he said.
Kuiper said that Ichikawa has become a “very established artiist and is gaining a steady and strong momentum with every show that she does.”
Kuiper noted that Ichikawa has nothing but positive things to say about the folks at the Satsop Business Park.
“I think more could come from this exhibit,” Kuiper said. “This could only be the first part of her work and I could see her do more involving all of this. She’s still in the exploration stage and is discovering new things about the sounds that were generated all the time. … Even the smallest sound in the cooling towers generated the most amazing sounds.”
Ichikawa isn’t the first to discover the acoustics inside the cooling tower. In 2010, a former NASA researcher installed an acoustics laboratory at the business park.
The gallery is located at 313 Occidental Ave. South, Seattle and is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.