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A new sculpture honors Yesler residents' resilience through periods of change and growth


A new sculpture honors Yesler residents' resilience through periods of change and growth

A new sculpture at Yesler, Megastrobili by artist George Lee, has been unveiled. Lee was commissioned by SHA in 2016 to create a public artwork as part of a Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture grant supporting SHA’s work to integrate arts into the Yesler redevelopment process. 

Since then, Lee has led many community engagement projects at Yesler, including a youth and sports after-school program and the creation of a Yesler Hospitality Table. In creating Megastrobili, Lee was especially inspired by stories shared by elders in the Vietnamese Garden Club and East African Food and Fitness Programs, where the artist learned about the rich gardening traditions of the community and residents’ immigration experiences. Lee spent years getting to know the community, neighborhood and SHA staff as he developed his artwork, which gave him the chance to create a sculpture that was connected to the history and people of Yesler. 

Megastrobili is a series of six boulder-like forms with faceted sides that shift from geometric to organic. The sculpture’s shape is modeled after the seed pods of the grand Monterey Cypress tree that rises above the work, and its title refers to the botanical name of the Cypress cone. Recalling the sharing of seeds between individuals in the neighborhood, the sculpture honors residents’ resilience through periods of change and growth. The artwork is meant to be explored from one end to another and evokes different forces of nature. Its location, in the pocket park at the corner of Fir and Broadway, invites viewers to remember the significance of Yesler Way, which was an indigenous route between villages and ancestral places, and later a logging road. Lee also worked to collect personal and historic keepsakes from Yesler staff and residents, which are embedded in the sculpture to invest it with the vibrant spirit of the community it honors and serve as a time capsule of this particular place in time.