Ghosts of the Salish Sea

5-9pm Dec. 30 – Mar. 31, 2021
Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock St

Meet artist Kristian Brevik, see how he made the lanterns and how we installed them!
orca lantern

A pod of illuminated whales swims in the massive glass front wall of the museum. Lanterns made of resined fabric by artist and scientist Kristian Brevik, they echo the endangered species that swim in our own waters: orcas, gray, humpback, plus the salmon they depend on to survive. In their ghostly beauty and fragility, they remind us that we are all deeply part of the ocean, and need to protect it.

artist with whale lanterns
Artist Kristian Brevik with the lanterns at Port Townsend.
lanterns inside building

“Ghosts of the Salish Sea” is an installation that’s perfect for the dark of winter. Part of Tacoma Ocean Fest ongoing, it’s visible from the dock and street while the Foss Waterway Seaport museum is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It glimmers with light and hope.

The installation runs through winter, but is also a stop on the Tacoma Light Trail, light art downtown that’s visible 5-9pm every night from Dec. 30 – Jan. 24. Over 50 artists, organizations and businesses are collaborating to create the Trail, which is free and can be walked or driven safely with social distancing. There’s also a Sound Trail, with each light spot featuring a different musician or poet. For ours, listen to the haunting flute of Paul Chiyokten Wagner (Saanich), who plays music for the non-human people living in our Salish Sea (Puget Sound) waters.

“Ghosts of the Salish Sea” is supported by Tacoma Creates, with special thanks to Filson Outfitters for the six giant orcas.

About the Artist

“With my work, I aim to explore human connections with other species in the community of life in a way which holds both the kinship relationships which help us all flourish and yet does not shy away from the negative impacts we have on these members of our community.

“We hear more and more about the accelerating extinctions of plants and animals which we humans are responsible for, and coming to terms with the grief and fear that attend these losses is a monumental challenge. With one million species now at risk of extinction, can a focus on the plants and animals we share our local home with provide a pathway to contemplating our impacts? We have learned in recent years that simply providing facts and statistics about environmental issues is not enough to motivate change, and this project aims to use art to foster a sense of deep connectedness with the nonhuman kin who share our landscape with us. As artist Todd McGrain has said, art “can touch each of us in a way that ideas and intellect alone cannot. At their highest levels, the performing arts and the visual arts have the power to ignite an awareness of deep connectedness”.

“This work draws from my background in ecology and evolutionary biology to create installations exploring the way humans and other species interact. With this work, I explore the tension between the joy we experience when encountering the other species we share the world with, with the increasing understanding that the way we live harms and constrains other species. This installation, titled, “Ghosts of the Salish Sea”, represents some of the significant species which are part of the ecological kinship network of the Salish Sea – orcas, grey whales, salmon, and others.” – Kristian Brevik