When the weather is nice, Occidental Park in Pioneer Square is bustling with activity. Ping pong, connect four or Jenga are among the many activities people can enjoy. During the week the park is usually full as workers from nearby businesses sit outside for their lunch break. Among the totem poles and seating is a public art installation called “Illumination Station.” It offers a luminous reprieve during this dark and often gloomy time of year. Electric Coffin member Patrick “Duffy” De Armas said they’d had the idea for this type of public installation for some time.
“Seattle winters aren’t necessarily the kindest. People here are very tenacious and pioneering and have been battling winters for obviously multiple generations,” said De Armas. “We just wanted to offer some relief to people who are out and about in those tough months.”
The brightly painted shipping container by artist collective Electric Coffin stands out against the muted buildings surrounding the park. Neon pink, orange, blue and green flowers surround a deer on the outside of the container. The floral motif continues inside the 20-foot structure, which has a lit stained glass style ceiling.
“The inside is meant to be this kind of calming, bright, reflective space that in the dark months people can go to and kind of reset, not only mentally but also reset physically,” said De Armas.
While Seattleites and others in the Pacific Northwest have steeled themselves against the dark and rainy months, it can become taxing. The benefit of getting a dose of sunshine is good for one’s health as exposure to the sun triggers vitamin D production, elevates our mood and helps the body maintain a normal circadian rhythm.
“Illumination Station” is Electric Coffin’s first public art project with the City of Seattle. Ideally, they’d place a light portal in every neighborhood for people to gather and recharge. Until then, those who frequent Pioneer Square have until the end of the month to enjoy their glowing installation.
Lisa Edge is a Staff Reporter covering arts, culture and equity. Have a story idea? She can be reached at lisae (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Lisa on Twitter @NewsfromtheEdge
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