The Federal Way City Council voted unanimously Nov. 4 at the request of Mayor Jim Ferrell to oppose a piece of artwork that is planned for the new Sound Transit Federal Way Link Extension light rail station.
The sculpture concept features a strong tree as a base, drawing inspiration from Federal Way’s logging town heritage. A sprightly elephant balances on top of the tree on two front legs as a native great blue heron bird sits atop the elephant’s trunk, looking at one another.
This sculpture would be three-and-a-half stories tall (approximately 30 feet), about the height of passengers on the future light rail platform.
“We collectively feel that this image does not represent our community. In essence, the artist’s vision of a dead tree, elephant, and bird will make our city the subject of ridicule and derision,” the Nov. 5 letter to the Sound Transit Board of Directors states.
The letter continues to say the Federal Way City Council feels a different piece of artwork would represent Federal Way in a more positive light.
“We are excited to welcome light rail to our downtown. It will be transformative, and a key piece of infrastructure that will help shape the future of our city,” Ferrell said. “We need a piece of artwork that appropriately reflects and uplifts our community. We ask that Peter Rogoff and the Sound Transit Board promptly address this matter and choose a more appropriate piece of art for this site.”
Federal Way is known in the region for encouraging and celebrating visual, literary and performing arts, the letter says.
“This includes giving artists the latitude to be creative, within reason.”
The council is asking Sound Transit for a reimagined art piece that “reflects our community and will be a benefit for many years to come,” and “that will uplift the community, not diminish it.”
Construction started this year to extend the light rail line from SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.