Site Specific with Valerie Otani
Fernanda D'Agostino and Valerie Otani have collaborated since 1993 on projects that range from light rail lines and community centers, to the creation of a migratory pollinators trail in Arizona and a viewing shelter on the shores of San Francisco Bay. Their work is guided by deep research into the site, its people, history, and natural history. They have completed projects in cast and silkscreened glass, bronze, stainless steel, CorTen, stone and video. Fitting form, material, and content to the site in surprising ways characterizes their work. Unusual collaborations are also a feature of their process. Close work with Native American and "Anglo"fishers on Commencement Bay led to a series of monumental sculptures at the Washington State History Museum. Interviews with Japanese Americans interned in World War II informed a moving memorial to that conflicted history. The intersection of art and science is also a special interest. They have developed projects for labs, science centers, and trails throughout the West. Examples include collaborative work with naturalists at Smith and Bybee Lakes to create a series of landmark sculptures, a plaza project for Everett Community College that draws on beautiful forms found in contemporary physics, and videos on the physics of bird flight for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The kind of strategic thinking that goes into effective arts planning comes naturally to Fernanda, and she thrives in a collaborative design team setting. Fernanda sees the "big picture," and at the same time shows respect and concern for the local community. As a member of the Westside Light Rail artists' team, she identified art opportunities for eight light rail stations, and followed the project through budgeting, final design, fabrication, and construction. Smaller opportunities for emerging artists were planned at every station, and station-wide commissions were identified for established artists. In 2003, Fernanda completed work as lead design team artist for Tacoma Link Light Rail and found ways to involve emerging artists, the performing arts community, curators from the Washington State History Museum, and the cultural leader of the Puyallup Tribe, among others. Successful planning for Link led to the reestablishment of a public art program in Tacoma and a special award from the city council. She also created the Visual Arts Master Plan for Harborview Medical Center. Harborview's planning process included participating in award-winning community charettes, developing of a set of unifying design principles for the entire team, identifying commission opportunities and budgets, and creating a document that is still in use today.

© 2023 Fernanda D'Agostino