Ancient Lakes Elementary (ALE) held a virtual assembly on Oct. 30 to unveil and learn about a new art collection at the school.
Over the last two years, ALE has been working with Marissa Laubscher with the Washington State Art Commission to create and install art in the school that was included in the cost of the school’s remodeling.
According to Laubscher, the school district looked at over 80 artist portfolios before choosing Susan Aurand. Aurand is from Olympia and this is her third commission for the Washington State Art Commission. One of Aurand’s other commissions was for an elementary school in Othello.
The five piece collection is named “Water Gifts.” The pieces show the importance of water in this dry area and how water connects us to each other and the whole world, Aurand said.
Each piece features a different part of Quincy’s history.
The first piece, titled “Water Means Life,” is located in the right hand side of the foyer of the main entrance to ALE. It is a three dimensional work made of painted panels that feature animals of the Quincy area with a background of Ancient Lakes. There is one child jumping mid-air into the lake and one child facing viewers with a hand mirror. Around the border of the piece, the word water is written in 16 different languages and slightly blurred so viewers have to look for them.
The second, third, fourth and fifth pieces are located in the library at ALE. Each of these pieces are painted canvases featuring different parts of Quincy’s history. Each piece has a description below it with a small quote about water.
“Water Over Land” is the second piece in the collection. This piece shows how the Quincy landscape has changed over thousands of years to create the landscape that is here today. It shows the changes from a primeval ocean to the mega floods carving out the Ancient Lakes area. It even features the baby rhino that was found in a cave in the Soap Lake area.
The third piece, “By the River,” features the landscape of Ancient Lakes and the Columbia River. It focuses on the native peoples of the Wanapum Tribe. Wanapum means “River People.”
“Growing” is the name of the fourth piece, featuring the settlement of Quincy. At the top of the piece, the building of the Grand Coulee Dam is shown to represent how it brought irrigation to the area. The piece shows how irrigation has developed over time in order to make Quincy a successful farming area. Aurand said she spent a lot of time captivated by the history of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project in the building of the Grand Coulee Dam.
“Blue Planet” is the final piece in the series and features what Quincy is like today. It shows the abundance of crops grown in the area and the importance farmworkers play in it. It shows a child fishing, which is a big part of recreation in the valley. At the top is a “cloud” to represent the tech industry that has made a home in Quincy due to the abundance and low cost of electricity from hydropower in the surrounding dams.
Aurand said her favorite part about the commission was learning about Quincy and getting to know members of the community. She worked with the Quincy School District (QSD), Quincy Valley Historical Society, and members of the Farmer Consumer Awareness Day (FCAD) committee in order to obtain the information she needed to portray the Quincy Valley accurately in her work.
At the end of the virtual assembly, QSD Superintendent John Boyd said that the collection “finishes the building,” and is one of the most beautiful art pieces he’s seen.