Atoms of Industry
(from The Curator's Eye, City Arts Eastside July 2009)
Selected by Greg Kucera, curator, Greg Kucera Gallery, and Adrianne Ralph, facilities design coordinator, King County Libraries
In 2008, sculptor Victoria Haven was commissioned by the King County library system to build a site-specific work for a new library in the town of Black Diamond. Adrianne Ralph remembers, “It was very important to the community that the art reflect their place in history.” The town is named for the Black Diamond coal company, and many residents of this former “company town” are descendants of miners.
The work, constructed of steel, is called Coal Matrix. The idea came to Haven after much research. “In my desire to investigate everything related to coal I came across some images diagramming its molecular structure,” she says. In these images, circles depicted the joining of atoms. “This gave me the idea to emphasize the intersections of the cut-steel piece with circles of steel that protrude from the face of it and are powder coated with bright colors.” One library patron interpreted the sculpture this way: “Looking at it, I can almost visualize each one of the mines in the area.” Molecules, mines, the darkness of coal: to Haven all interpretations point to some kind of truth.