Submitted by Justin Teerlinck.
Jennifer Preston Chushcoff is a local artist and writer who blends her love of nature and her talent for self-expression in genre-defying ways.
Jennifer’s children’s book Snowflakes: A Pop-Up Book and her paean to bioregionalism WA is Water (which took a first-place IPPY award in 2017) highlight more than simply environmentalism, but also bring a sense of awe and poetic wonder to what is more properly called “eco-ppreciation.”
Her latest work consists of several contiguous photographs enlarged and prominently displayed on the sides of the Tacoma Municipal Water Works Building (6222 South Clement Avenue, Tacoma, a.k.a. South Tacoma Pump House) as part of a community beautification project highlighting Tacoma’s heritage.
Just recently unveiled, this installation traces the arc of water from frame to frame, splashing the building with new life, and providing users of the Flume Line Trail with a mural of artwork that can be enjoyed by both people on foot who pause and linger in wonder, or bicyclists zooming by in a blur.
This work simultaneously underscores both the ephemeral glimpse of a captured moment in time, via suspended drops of water, and also the dynamism of water as a force of nature. The photos featured on the building were captured during the August 2017 solar eclipse, and astute observers will be able to discern different phases of the eclipse in some droplets of water.
The building itself is a tribute to a bygone era. The South Tacoma Pump House was built in the 1930’s as a Works Progress Administration project, an arm of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sweeping New Deal philosophy that gave average American citizens hope and a sense of purpose during the Great Depression.
Nearly 100 years later, Jennifer Preston Chushcoff’s work echoes the New Deal ‘s emphasis on the importance of civic engagement by bringing ecological aesthetics to the citizens of Tacoma, and by demonstrating that art and nearly-forgotten structures with the most pragmatic of uses can be seamlessly melded for the community’s benefit.
The South Tacoma Pump House can be found directly on the Flume Line Trail, near its intersection with S. 62nd Street, in Tacoma.