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Art or infrastructure? Depends on the climate

Deborah Holdship

‘Migration Stage,’ an outdoor installation along Seattle’s Elliot Bay, serves a once-and-future purpose, says artist Buster Simpson, MFA ’69. Its movable ‘kit of parts’ provides a unique place to gather, while it functions as ‘sea armor’ to protect shoreline infrastructure against extreme storms. (Image credit: Joe Freeman Jr.)

On a fall afternoon along Seattle’s Elliott Bay, Buster Simpson, MFA ’69, watched a woman photograph a child crawling on a public art installation he’d recently completed. It’s likely the woman and child had no idea Simpson’s “Migration Stage” serves a dual purpose: providing an area for creativity and play and protecting the bay’s seawall infrastructure.

The child seemed to favor the “creativity and play” function as they clamored among the multiple pieces comprising “Anthropomorphic Dolos,” one of Migration Stage’s two sculptural editions. It can be found at the southern end of Seattle’s Park Promenade, near Pioneer Square Habitat Beach. The artist envisions a time in 30-50 years when the same child he is watching might be protected from rising sea levels due to the sculpture’s intended utility.

“Sometimes, as artists, any one of us will do something that works on a lot of levels, and that’s a treat.”

Read the full story at Michigan Today.