Featured Student Work

From screen-print series by Katharine Etsell

Port of Tacoma series - Katharine Etsell

Katharine Etsell is the 2017 recipient of the 15th annual Library Art Award for her series that highlights the Port of Tacoma.

Artist’s Statement:

This screenprint series highlights the Port of Tacoma, an area that represents a significant piece of both a local and global economy. Though vital, it often remains viewed at a distance by community members and passersby alike. The Port is a massive swath of concrete land; by focusing on its infrastructure up close, the series points out the repeated entities that bring life and movement to a seemingly static area—large ships bearing containers of goods from faraway places, the waters of the Sound that they travel through, and the cranes that lift shipping containers up and onto land, to be distributed by car and rail.

Each color of the print was applied singularly. Layering the image methodically and slowly embraces a relatively analog process in today’s digital age; my process parallels the antiquated feelings of a bygone age that one finds at the Port of Tacoma. The rusting truss bridges and miles of old railroad that intersect the Port are reminiscent of a forgotten industrial age, and yet they are still part of a relevant and vital economy. In building each layer, keen attention was given to the choices of form and color. By working with a limited palette for each respective image, a distinct mood is created to evoke a unique sense of Tacoma. Each composition is a window into a small part of the Port, showing up close the structures and waters normally seen only from far away, and giving a greater
sense of proximity to the global economy.

There is nostalgia in focusing solely on the Port as landmark of Tacoma. It exudes a sense of place and time, geographically and historically. While today its dominant neighbor to the north, Seattle, often overshadows Tacoma, originally it was a true “city of destiny” for railroad activity and shipping, as it was chosen as the western stopping point for the first Transcontinental Railroad in the 19th Century. This particular part of Tacoma shapes both its economy and its landscape, and has roots in both history and the present. By highlighting the Port, I hope to engender a sense of pride and awe at an institution that will celebrate its hundredth birthday in 2018, and will undoubtedly continue to play a considerable role in this area in the future to come.

About the Judges:

Hilary Robbeloth is a Metadata Librarian at Collins Library.
Jada Pelger 
is the Information Resources Coordinator at Collins Library.
Jamie Spaine 
is Administrative Coordinator at Collins Library.
Lori Ricigliano 
is the Associate Director for User Services at Collins Library.

This piece is located on the first floor in the Learning Commons

View past featured student works here