George Trakas has been a leader in the creation of site-specific installations in public space since the 1970s. He has used architectural structure in his work and architecture as the subject of his sculpture.
Bay View Station, which Trakas created in 1987, includes a pedestrian’s passageway between the industrial port city of Bellingham and the University, and a viewing station to reflect on these communal connections. Trakas integrated into his work the dirt path begun by the students as a shortcut up the hill. At the top of the path is a series of segmented decks constructed of local fir planks and steel posts.
Trakas came back to Western in 2015 to restore the work and at that time he spoke about his ideas and experience.
George Trakas said:
This was a very special situation when I came her in that Western allowed me to work on this extraordinary space with this view and be a part of this collection. It was a real adventure for me in early part of my career. So it was one of these early works where I was given carte blanche to work on a huge space; it was not a huge budget but I knew I could handle it.
The deck is basically a deck for students who come out of the music building, sit and enjoy the view. I mean, that is the base common denominator of the work. However, details in the work relative to music, when I could see and I started building it, music had influence on me. The decks, as you can see, are very much like a keyboard. And there are four of them, so there is a kind of treble clef and a base clef. And the work allows the spectator to have an experience that is unusual relative to decks and walkways. And it asks them to, the mind of the spectator says “you think I can take this step across this gap?” And the body says, “no problem.” People feel like gathering here. And the dialogue that happens here at the same time the view that they can look at, gets them away from the mundane, from the daily stuff, and that to me, in the sense what is the function of art.
This is how this works, instead of standing in front of it or walking around it, you actually get on it and feel your body on it, there are issues of security, balance, it kind of respects the intelligence of the viewer, in that there are no railings in the front here, when you sit there. Coming up the walkway, there are no railings except down at the base. So it kind of says, this is not a normal walkway here, this is not a normal deck, it is not just a bench for you, so it kind of sensitizes and puts the viewer, kind of in touch with himself and the materials of the work that they are on and the environment. And it is that kind of binary thing back and forth. So it is very much a kind of choreographic experience where the work kind of asks you to be careful but also have a little bit of adventure.