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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Art

Sculptor Sarah Thompson Moore leaves her mark on Riverfront Park with the Seeking Place

Growing up surrounded by artists, Coeur d’Alene based sculptor Sarah Thompson Moore developed a passion for creating early.

“Art was always something that I was involved with,” she said. But her love for sculpture came later.

After graduating from high school, she spent some time in Florence, Italy, and found herself fascinated with the statues.

“After I came back, I had an opportunity to get a job at this bronze foundry,” she said. There she dove head first into her new craft and hasn’t turned back since.

Moore’s latest work, now installed at Riverfront Park just beyond the fountain, is titled The Seeking Place. She started brainstorming in early 2020 when the Spokane Parks Department sent out an invitation to local artists hoping to participate in the Riverfront Park redevelopment plan.

Moore was essentially given full creative freedom. But various roadblocks due to the coronavirus pandemic led to a series of postponements between planning and fabrication.

With the final monthlong installation now complete, Moore has enjoyed continuing to visit the site. Photos of the installation process are available on Moore’s Instagram at @sarahthompsonmoore.

“Interacting with people that come through … I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “It’s just fun to see people excited about it, you know?”

Resembling the columnar basalt characteristic of the region as much as the city scape surrounding the park, the sculpture’s 12-foot-tall aluminum panels panels are perforated, evoking the gradual development of sedimentary layers.

“I’ve always been visually been attracted to those basalt formations,” she said. “So when I was thinking about something that fit in Spokane, I immediately went to the geology.”

Moore has worked with bronze and steel in the past on various sculptures, but this time around, she chose aluminum.

“This is kind of my first time using aluminum for a project, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out,” she said.

Aluminum is lighter weight while retaining a similar durability to steel or bronze. Another plus was the ability to use a process called anodization during fabrication, Moore explained.

“It’s not a coating like paint or powder coating – it’s an electrochemical process that basically changes the surface,” she said. “It allows it to maintain this sort of metallic luster, which I really love.”

The process partially pre-oxidizes the surface of the aluminum so that the color becomes part of the underlying material. In other words, depending on the electric current, the aluminum shifts between shades, leaving the metal somewhere between Bordeaux and Champagne.

The material is also reflective.

“So the colors show up differently depending on the lighting conditions,” Moore said. “Sometimes you might get warm golden tones, and other times it’s more of a cooler kind of light bronzy color and … I really liked that it changes kind of what the environment.”

Adaptiveness and reflection are common themes in her work, she said.

“But this piece in particular, all of the decisions and choices were based around this idea … being interactive with the surrounding lighting conditions and the environment, what’s going on within the environment around the piece … how that’s going to change throughout the day and throughout the seasons.”

Commissioned by city of Spokane Parks & Recreation – with support from Rotary 21, Spokane Arts, Terrabella Inc. and the Riverfront Redevelopment Fund – the piece joins a growing collection of public art projects at Riverfront Park.

With the piece in place, Moore hopes it provides visitors with a quite space for reflection.

“I really hope that it becomes a space that people can explore and relax inside of … something that people would want to return to again and again,” she said. “Something that feels very Spokane.”

For information, visit @sarahthompsonmoore on Instagram or at sarahthompsonmoore.com.

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