Posted in biology, communication and networking, design and architecture, education, museum

Heaven and Earth II at Carkeek Park

Carkeek Park, Heaven and Earth II
Orchard, by Julie Lindell

I haven’t done this in a long time – I am actually contributing a story that I researched, wrote, and photographed. Go me!

This Saturday morning was spent wandering around looking at fake trees surrounded by real ones. It was fantastic.

The Heaven and Earth II Exhibit is a outdoor sculpture exhibition being put on at Carkeek Park in Seattle, WA. It is sponsored by the COCA (Center on Contemporary Art), the Associated Recreational Council, and Seattle Parks and Recreation.

It is the second year this exhibition has gone up, with the themes of art, nature, and sustainability influencing the artists in their art and what materials they use to create it. Many of the pieces are made from recycled wood, glass, harvested wood, and reused wood, while others are supposed to make a statement about how we are using our environment.

Most of the work is close to the various park’s parking lots, but my favorite pieces are in Piper’s Orchard, and worth the hike over. There is also a camera obscura set up which is science-y and fun to play with. According to the artist statement parks used to often have these, and I think they should bring them back!

Overall, I think the art is well-placed, and integrates well into the surrounding environment but also stands out enough that it catches your eye and makes you consider the surroundings as well as the art. It’s like going on a treasure hunt to find some of these things, and you are pleasantly rewarded.

Heaven and Earth II, Carkeek Park
Changes, Julie Fisco

I love these sorts of opportunities for art to be integrated with already-existing environments and seeing how they play off each other. Outdoor exhibitions also provide people with an opportunity to see art w/o having to pay for it or making it “precious.” I think there is an instinctual impulse to create or make their mark on the world, and to experience other people’s marks, like songs or chalk drawings. We want to be included, and outdoor art allows that.

The only drawback to this is when people feel they have a right to alter or add their own mark to someone else’s. It is disrespectful to interrupt someone’s song, and it is disrespectful to add Sessions bottles to the tree sculpture, or to add writing to the natural wood benches. But that doesn’t mean these sorts of exhibits shouldn’t take place. In fact, I think if people are exposed to these types of exhibits more often, they won’t seem so weird or foreign, and in turn people will feel less compelled to mess with them. But it is also part of human nature to toy and mess with stuff, and that includes graffiti.

Anyway, enough of my tangent, onto the art: There are 13 pieces in all, and most are clustered together, but taking the map along with you (available at the Environmental Learning Center) helps to make sure you don’t miss one. The map also provides an explanation of each of the pieces. I’m always ambivalent about having artists explain their work to me, but some of the artists descriptions point out elements of the pieces you might have noticed, or history you may not have known before.

The opening exhibition was June 26, and artwork is on display until September 26. Make a morning or afternoon of it – bring a picnic, give yourself time to wander for at least an hour and a half (you’ll be stopping a lot to look through the camera obscura, looking at plants, etc.), and then enjoy your lunch surrounded by the natural beauty of Carkeek Park.

Heaven and Earth II Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Carkeek Park, Seattle, WA
Runs from June 26 – September 26, 2010
Maps are available at the Environmental Learning Center, 950 N.W. Carkeek Park Road (main entrance)
Curated by David Francis

Heaven and Earth II, Carkeek Park
A couple enjoys the natural wood benches at Carkeek Park

Carkeek Park outdoor art exhibit
art on display at Carkeek Park through Sept 26


Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

3 thoughts on “Heaven and Earth II at Carkeek Park

  1. Thanks for the article. CoCA has a “sister show” of temporary outdoor sculptures on the east side (if that is closer to some readers), on the outskirts of Bellevue (exit 13 off I-90, then south along Lakemont) that is similar to Heaven & Earth II. We are committed to experimenting with this form of exhibition and feel that the Northwest has the potential to lead the country in developing an art/science/ nature sensibility.

Comments are closed.