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As Duwamish River is made cleaner, local artists help community connect to its waters

By July 19, 2023July 25th, 2023No Comments

The Duwamish River has many sides to it – industrial corridor, habitat for migrating salmon, ancestral waters for the people who have long inhabited its shores and waters.

Two local artists have been commissioned to capture the complexity of the Duwamish and the clean water infrastructure that’s being designed to support a healthier river for future generations.  

Timothy White Eagle and Laura C. Wright are designing art that will be featured as part of King County’s West Duwamish Wet Weather Storage Facility to enhance the project’s connections to community. Both are residents of King County, making this project a truly local one. 

Project planning is now underway to build a 1.25-million-gallon underground storage tank along the riverbank that can hold polluted stormwater and wastewater during heavy storms until it can be cleaned at the nearby wastewater treatment plant. The infrastructure is part of King County’s investments to improve water quality in the Duwamish for the betterment of public health and the environment. It’s also an opportunity to connect to community through art.  


White Eagle’s art can be seen around Seattle. His recent work, Songs for the Standing Still People, was an immersive installation at King Street Station commissioned for the station’s yəhaw̓ exhibition. Other recent local work includes an Artist Residency at Town Hall Seattle in 2021, and Revival, an immersive theater and installation work in collaboration with The Violet Triangle at On The Boards in 2022. He was the recipient of the Western Arts Alliance/Advancing Indigenous Performance Launch Pad award in 2019, as well as a Seattle City Artist award in 2020. 

Wright’s studio and community practices have been engaging the people and issues of the Duwamish valley for over 18 years.  Her longest running project, the Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival, is currently in its ninth year, fostering over 400 community-centered amateur films. Often working in the intersection of fiber arts and technology, Wright was a 2018 American Art Incubator Fellow and a 2023 4Culture Arts Projects grant. As a Georgetown resident for 25 years, she has worked with, and been a part of, many local groups, including weekly rows on the Duwamish River with the Duwamish Rowing Club.   

King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) partnered with 4Culture to select artists to create temporary artwork that sparks curiosity and raises awareness of the largely invisible Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system. A selection panel facilitated by 4Culture included WTD staff, local artists, and community members selected the two artists for the art opportunity.  

West Duwamish Wet Weather Storage Facility rendering.

The project site itself reflects community input from King County residents. The facility will feature rain gardens, wildlife habitat, and other sustainability elements. A separate art project will also be incorporated into the project and will be displayed along the outer fence line of the facility upon completion.  

Construction is due to begin in 2025, so keep an eye out for more updates!  

To learn more about Timothy White Eagle and Laura C. Wright, read 4Culture’s E-News: Two Artists selected for the West Duwamish Art Opportunity – 4Culture