New Aquarium Showcases Local Artists

Starting this summer, visitors to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium will be treated not only to a new state-of-the-art marine experience when the new Pacific Seas Aquarium opens, but also to breathtaking art installations featuring two Pacific Northwest artists.

The $51.6 million project, led by Metro Parks Tacoma, is funded by the One Percent for Public Art program. As the name suggests, this program earmarks 1 percent of all public works project budgets for the creation of public art. The new aquarium was approved by voters in 2014 as part of the $198 million Metro Parks Tacoma bond. These additions to PDZA are projected to boost attendance at the beloved Pierce County destination, which annually sees over 700,000 visitors.

Maria Jost, Tacoma-based illustrator and Tacoma Public Schools’ Science and Math Institute science teacher, will be creating a marine-inspired mural for installation in the aquarium’s Tidal Touch Zone. This zone is an engaging space offering hands-on and up-close experiences for people of all ages. Jost’s work has been seen in many Tacoma locations and was commissioned by Tacoma Makes for the 2014 edition of the Tacoma Playing Cards.

In addition, Seattle glass artist Kait Rhoads created a glass jellyfish that will be suspended in the atrium just past the 250,000-gallon Baja Bay habitat. This habitat will be home to green sea turtles, scalloped hammerhead sharks, spotted eagle rays and other warmwater species. Rhoads’ work has been featured in museum and gallery exhibitions across the U.S. and internationally. For this, her first permanent public art piece, she collaborated with PDZA’s jellyfish aquarist Dr. Chad Widmer, the hot shop team at the Museum of Glass and students from Hilltop Artists.

Choosing to highlight the talents of local artists for these important art installations in the new aquarium is evidence of the richness of cultural life in the Northwest. When you plan your visit, make sure you have a chance to appreciate all the beauty of this new South Sound gem.

HILARY RYAN

For additional information:
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
5400 North Pearl St, Tacoma
253.591.5337
pdza.org