Bridging Gaps

Lea Anne Burke

In the process of connecting A to B, the vast network of roads and bridges are an integral part of daily life. Looking ahead to where you are going sometimes leads to overlooking where you are. While during the planning and construction phases, the spaces under bridges may not be intentionally, or intensively, planned. Nature abhors a vacuum and unplanned use quickly occurs. For this assignment, I have chosen to look at art created underneath bridges. Accessibility, visibility, square footage of unprogrammed space, and type of bridge construction can dictate types of art that can occur there. It can be sanctioned coordinated community projects, installations by individual artists, or the quick dashes of graffiti.

The University District has examples of all three types of art, all underneath University Bridge, between the Burke-Gillman trail and Campus Parkway. The sites are highly visible, easily accessible and have fair to high levels of pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic. There is street graffiti, a large mural, and a sculptural installation. These pieces claim and define the character of the sites. They evoke reactions. What does it mean? Who made it? Should I be scared? Do I like it? Whatever the answers, they have served their purpose and asked the questions.

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