GSI Rain Activated Murals
On average, it rains 150 days a year in the Seattle area. What if you had a reason to be excited to walk outside on those gloomy Seattle days? The EcoDistrict visioned a project that would activate our streets and encourage people to go outside on the days they are most driven to stay indoors.
The Rain Mural project is one of the EcoDistrict's series of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) pilot projects that create an interactive educational experience for community members. We asked two Seattle artists to create pieces representing water flow as it hits the pavement. Each street mural speaks to the history of auto row in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the impacts of climate change, and the community resilience needed to address them.
In addition to visualizing Seattle's history, the murals also speak to the story of unmanaged, polluted stormwater flows in the neighborhood. Unmanaged, polluted stormwater is the biggest threat to water quality in Puget Sound and to the species that call it home. GSI methods, such as cisterns, trees, rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable pavers, offer many benefits, including providing habitat to birds and pollinators, reducing urban heat islands, mitigating flooding, reducing air pollution, and improving our community's health by providing green spaces for all to enjoy.
Hover to reveal artwork
A precious life by Amol Saraf
A Precious Life shows the sun and water in an abstract and contemporary form, represented by the semi-circle shape of the piece. Amol drew from the influence of the land, which is the homeland of the Coast Salish people, who idolize the sun. The semi-circle represents the sun which is the soul of our universe. The semi-circle shown repeatedly indicates wheels for the history of the auto row of Capitol Hill. The curves within the design represent water and waves. The whole design is created most artistically, which signifies the very active artistic life that the Coast Salish people had.
"Rainfall" by Lourdes Jackson
His piece Rainfall, Lourdes represented Seattle's climate and environment in the design of his piece. Seattle's annual rainfall lends itself to our incredible Puget Pound and countless lakes around the Pacific Northwest region. Recognizing that over 71% of the earth's surface is covered in water, Lourdes designed a piece specific to Seattle's direct connection to the earth's water composition. He includes a graphic of the world but notes that the significance of his piece is its location, representing an anchoring to the world as water flows down the Capitol Hill streets to connect with the rest of the world's water supply.
Meet the artists
Amol’s mission is to enhance the beauty of the world by creating exclusive, sustainable, and eco-friendly works of art for compassionate art-loving communities across various cultures. He is strongly inspired by the nature of both humans and environments.
His 30-plus years of career experience is spread internationally between India, Japan, Sweden, China, Russia, etc. He has participated in residencies, workshops, exhibitions, and public art shows across the globe. Amol is a multifaceted artist and loves to work in all mediums and with all types of materials to make his artistic visions come to life.
A note from the artist:
"This project would be a starting point for me to create a personal relationship with the place.
"Public places are an inspiration in itself to work around as the sites are exposed to great number of diverse population every day. For each project I enjoy creating a unique pieces of art that are inspirational and meaningful so that visitors would enjoy the positive spirit, vital message depicted visually and the beauty of the artwork."
Lourdes has resided in Tacoma, Washington for 16 years. He is a pencil/charcoal artist, painter, and designer. He creates artwork that reflect his life experiences and hopes that as a black male artist, he can inspire future artists that black excellence can be translated onto a canvas.
A note from the artist:
"Being raised in Washington. One of the thing I hear most when I travel is how often it rains. One thing I don’t hear often is how beautifully radiant our summers are. Or how the sight of an orca whale is so magical. I believe it’s something we share here in the Pacific Northwest. Our rainfall is what keeps us unique. And as sometimes it may be a pain, it’s all worth it when you realize the beauty of the foliage and wildlife it keeps us close to."
How does rain-activation work?
The CEO of Rainworks, Peregrine Church, and his friend Xach Fisher teamed up with the EcoDistrict to create some of the largest ‘rainworks’ (a combination of rain + artwork) in Seattle. The company turned our artists designs into giant stencils, and then made them come to life with their invisible spray.
Rainworks utilizes the natural occurrence of concrete darkening when it gets wet. A water-repelling coating is sprayed through a stencil onto concrete creating areas that repel all water. Once this process is complete, the next time the surface gets wet, everything darkens except where the coating was sprayed. It's there, in the contrast of the dry, light concrete and the dark, wet concrete, an image is created. Whenever the area is dry, the image will be completely invisible.
The entire process is safe for both the environment and the artists. The formula evaporates without entering the local water system and leaves behind only non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients.
To learn more about Rainworks and to shop their products, check out the Rainworks website.
Rainworks CEO Peregrine Church installing "Rainfall"
Photo credit: Xach Fisher
Interested in journeying through Capitol Hill to see our rain paint murals and more GSI infrastructure systems in the neighborhood? Click below to check out the Capitol Hill Ecological Scavenger hunt.