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Clackamas County Red Soils Campus Plaza, Oregon City, OR
Dedicated July 10, 2010

Artist:  Aaron Hussey
Budget: $75,000

Project Description

“Perennial” finds its visual origins in the Red Soils Campus oval-shaped Plaza, the Douglas Fir tree and its oval cones. Directly representing the natural environment of Clackamas County, the design appropriates a pattern interpretation of the cone’s seed scales and the rolling current of the local rivers. The cone image becomes a metaphor for life, growth and individual potential. In concert, the individual seed scales deliver continuity and reference sustainability. The multiplicity of reflective shapes represents the vitality of the County, speaking to the ability of individuals to synchronize their actions to a common goal; each person with a unique role to play for the advancement of the community.

Two “storytelling” signs appear as a part of Perennial and feature original poems by Kim Stafford.

Kim Stafford’s notes about the poems::

The oldest poems we have in English, dating from the 6th century A.D. and earlier, are called the Gnomic Verses, and they consist of a series of observations about the natural world and the conduct of society. We don’t know who wrote these poems. They speak for everyone: “Salmon shall turn in the pool; the horse shall run in the meadow; hail shall fall, the coldest grain; the leader of the people shall be generous….” The effect is similar to Eccelesiastes, where the cycles of the natural world are juxtaposed with the turnings of human experience. The effect is similar to the Tao De Ching from China, where Lao Tzu observes that “plants are born tender and pliant…so whoever is tender and pliant is the disciple of life.” The poems are in keeping with the old Oregon folksong that proclaims:

I’ve reached the land of rain and mud, 

Where flowers and trees so early bud;

I’ve reached the land, O blessed day, 

For in Oregon it rains always…

Connections between the ways of water, leaf, seed, and the wonderful red earth of Clackamas County can inform our life in this place.

“Rise from Earth” includes the word tamánawis, which is a Chinook Indian word for an individual’s spirit-power. This word would have been spoken by the Clackamas people living in villages near the Willamette Falls, and in the valley of the Clackamas River. Each individual was said to have a unique kind of tamánawis derived from connection to the ways of earth and spirit. “Go to Earth” includes the line in Spanish, Tierra hace la vida aquí (“Earth makes life here’).

These poems have been composed for the people of Clackamas County by Kim Stafford, who grew up in the County. In high school, he would ride his bike out highway 43 to Molalla, through the hills and fields of this beautiful land.

Art Selection Committee
Clackamas County Public Art Steering Commitee

Project Management Team
Valerie Otani, Public Art Consultant
Cheryl Snow, Clackamas County Arts Alliance Executive Director
Betsy Bostwick, Clackamas County Arts Alliance Public Art Manager