Artist Fergus Hyke has a deep bond with the Pacfic Ocean; one that began with a childhood growing up on Oahu (he is of Hawaiian ancestry), and continues to this day at his home in the South Sound. He prowls the Tacoma waterfront at all hours, ever alert for the perfect, split-second confluence of light and subject to fill his lens.
One such image is captured in “Praise”, in which local yoga master Lauren Scolari salutes the sun in the red light of dawn, prayer beads in hand. While the image is harmonious, the backstory is anything but: Hyke explains that he took the photo on the Ruston waterfront during a summer when the Pacific Northwest was raging with wildfires, and the seething colors of the sunrise were the result of ashen particulates in the air.
In CONNECTED, Hyke offers several such revelatory moments of his relationship with ocean waters, in both Washington and Hawaii. Along Tacoma’s rapidly developing waterfront, he documents the interconnections between Tacoma’s natural marine environment and the urban buildup of the South Sound. Inside this complex ecosystem, species such as harbor seals and peregrine falcons have found ways to coexist with human neighbors who work in nearby skyscrapers or utilize the waterfront for recreation. Clean, healthy waters are vital to wildlife and humans both.
The Salish Sea and the Cascade Range offer up unpredictable gifts, he says. The self-taught photographer will wait patiently for hours to catch the perfect light on Mt. Rainier, or the chance image of a kingfisher flipping a fish in the air and catching it in its bill: “It’s in those moments that something just presents itself and I go down that rabbit hole. It’s fantastic.”
Hyke moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1976 – a move that seemed natural to someone for whom the ocean is in his blood. He opened a business, Kanaiaupune Photography, and is president of Kikaha o Ke Kai, a local Hawaiian outrigger canoe club. The photographs in CONNECTED were taken between 2015-2020. The exhibition will launch on the web during Tacoma Ocean Fest Online, on Sept. 13.
See Fergus’ work installed at the Foss Waterway Seaport through our virtual photo/video tour, and catch his artist livestream at 4:30pm on our Instagram.
- Lisa Kinoshita, curator