Capturing the tradition of a community while reflecting its history are vital to successfully designing culturally significant artwork. The Fish Icon Sculpture, located on native Tsawwassen land at Tsawwassen Mills Mall in Vancouver, British Columbia, does just that, thanks to the vision of local artists Ken Zawislak and Jeremy Gascho and the design of JPRA Architects.
The sculpture depicts two leaping salmon, symbolic of the traditional fishing practices of the local Coast Salish Native American culture and representative of its deep ties to the Tsawwassen community.
One of the fish features more than 240 panels of dichroic glass by Goldray Glass created with two lites of 6-millimeter clear glass by Vitro Architectural Glass and dichroic film by 3M. The panels, designed to represent the fish’s scales, are secured to a metal frame denoting its bone structure.
The dichroic glass not only met the designers’ goal to be modern and eye-catching, but also achieved the desired effect of movement and vibrancy. “The dichroic glass provides a very dynamic and changing skin of light and color,” says Gascho. “The transparent quality of the material allowed the inner structure, or bones, to be displayed.”
The dichroic glass also adds energy and visual interest as the structure visibly “shifts” and changes color throughout the day.
To complete the design, the project team added a flowing fountain to the base of the sculpture, which contributes to the simulation of movement and further reflects the light and color of the dichroic glass fish.
The second fish uses woven bronze metal to symbolize the historical Coast Salish woven baskets.
The Fish Icon Sculpture won a 2017 Glass Magazine Award for Most Innovative Decorative Glass Project.