Twelve-foot-tall sculptures inspired by trees of nearby forests complete a series of totem poles in Ainsworth Greenspace. Bronze totem heads representing legendary or sacred beings sit atop the three totems: “She Who Watches” by Lillian Pitt, “Salmon” by Ken MacKintosh, and “Crow” by Rick Bartow. The sculptures face inward, forming a small plaza with a river-like pathway with a bronze spiral inset in the center.
Describing the artwork, Lillian Pitt states, “We wanted to do something that was in keeping with the diverse neighborhoods that were nearby, and we wanted to do something to honor the maple trees that used to grow on that spot. We ended up using legendary images from different tribal traditions to represent the diversity in Native American culture, and we placed these giant images on top of pillars in the shape of maple tree trunks.”
The educational aspect of the Ainsworth project was enhanced by including a poetry project for students at the Ockley Green Middle School . Students learned to write poetry, and in keeping with the aims of the greenspace goals, were inspired to write about nature. The class was taught by collaborating artist and author, Gail Tremblay, who has worked frequently with Lillian over the years. Many of the resulting children’s poems are engraved onto the maple-tree columns that serve as the stands for the totems.
Lillian Pitt is a Pacific Northwest Native American artist. She was born and raised on the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon and her ancestors lived in and near the Columbia River Gorge for over 10,000 years. The focus of her work is on creating contemporary fine art pieces that delight today’s art lovers, and at the same time, honor the history and legends of her people.
For more information about Lillian Pitt’s work and a list of her other public art pieces to view in the area, please visit http://lillianpitt.com.