Foster’s Forthcoming Founders Hall to feature Coast Salish Art

Building art commissioned from Native American artists James Madison and Shaun Peterson

Tulalip-Tlingit artist and UW alumnus James Madison with his sculpture work. Photo courtesy of Steinbrueck Native Gallery.

As leaders of the Foster School considered the vision of Founders Hall, they sought to honor the University’s commitment to respect the Duwamish lands upon which the school resides. The selection committee was given the charge to seek art installations reflective of the Northwest Coast or Coast Salish art styles. The committee included dean Frank Hodge, associate dean Jennifer Koski, assistant dean Michelle Griffin, associate professor Emily Pahnke and senior marketing student–and Alaskan Native–Jordan Crawford.

Founders Hall’s outdoor plaza will include a reinstallation of a George Tsutakawa fountain with a large basin. The fountain was previously located in the Mackenzie Hall courtyard, and Tsutakawa, a longtime professor at UW’s School of Art, created more than 75 fountains in his lifetime.

“Family,” 2021 by James Madison. Image courtesy of Washington State Arts Commission. 

One of the iconic art projects in Founders Hall starts out by the Tsutakawa fountain where a small salmon will be embedded into the concrete near the basin. Additional salmon will be embedded on each ascending floor of the building. Continuing upward through the building, the meandering salmon advance in maturity until reaching Founders Gallery on the fifth floor where the salmon are adults, representing a life journey.

The committee provided a budget of $100,000 for this ‘Life of the Salmon’ installation and selected Tulalip-Tlingit artist and UW alumnus James Madison to make this idea a reality.

Artist Shaun Peterson of the Puyallup tribe.

A second installation will adorn the wall of the Founders Commons, a bright, sunny room that faces Denny yard on the southwest face of the building. For this work, the committee selected Puyallup tribal artist Shaun Peterson.

Peterson–also known by his native name Qualsius–is a member of the Puyallup tribe, and also bases his work in traditional Coast Salish forms.

Peterson began as a visual graphics artist, but has done numerous public commissions. His work is displayed throughout the Northwest at locations such as the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and the Emerald Queen Casino, among others.

Learn more about Shaun and his work at his website and his HistoryLink.org profile.

Artist’s renderings of what the installation in Founder’s Commons could look like.