Installation has begun for the newest addition to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Shovels first hit the shoreline on Monday, March 31 to create space for a 46-foot-tall sculpted head titled Echo, by the internationally recognized artist Jaume Plensa. Installation aims to be complete in late spring 2014.

The Olympic Sculpture Park has always been a special place for me. I’ve spent the past three summers in a row volunteering and interning at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s SAM Camp as counselor. Part of being a SAM Camp counselor involves cleaning up art project debris, but counselors and staff also help educate the campers and make art approachable, relatable, and fun for them. On the first day of camp, we usually give the campers a tour of the park and encourage them to sketch various sculptures and scenery. I can only imagine what this summer’s campers will have to say about the Echo installation.

At first the campers might be intimidated by the large scale of the towering resin, steel and marble dust head. After further explanation and observation, I think the campers will begin to see themselves in Echo. The sculpture’s face is inspired by a young girl Plensa knew, who mustn’t have been much older than the children who attended SAM Camp. Echo’s eyes are closed in a peaceful state of meditation; hopefully she won’t be roused by curious campers.

The name “Echo” derives from the nymph in Greek mythology who crossed goddess Hera. Echo offended Hera by engaging her in conversation and distracting her from spying on Zeus’s amours. As punishment Hera deprived Echo of speech, except for the ability to repeat the last words of another. Echo will silently laugh to the playful observations SAM Camp participants this coming summer, and endure many rainy Seattle days until then.

Echo was originally created for Madison Square Park in New York, in 2011. If you are curious about Echo’s appearance, I recommend looking up pictures of the Madison Square Park sight. The sculpture will be visible from the land and the water, facing the Puget Sound towards Mount Olympus.

Also, check out this video from KOMO News capturing the first day of the installation:

Jaume Plensa
Echo, Gifted from Collection of Barney A.Ebsworth
Coming Late Spring 2014
Olympic Sculpture Park

Maddie Thomas, Seattle Art Museum’s Communications Intern

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