A Rainy Day Surprise Downtown Olympia



Submitted by WET Science Center

Rainworks-4“Rainy days are going to happen no matter what. Why not do something fun with them?” This quote from Peregrine Church, a 21 year-old Seattle-based artist, reminds us to embrace the weather the Pacific Northwest is known for.

No one likes small talk about the weather, but maybe that’s because we are talking about it in the wrong way. Rather than dwell on the dreariness of rainy days around Puget Sound, Church has decided to take a creative approach to our wet region. Church and his partner, Xach Fischer, were recently featured on Evening Magazine for their “rainworks” – positive water-themed messages they have been stenciling on sidewalks around Seattle. Playful phrases like “proud to be rainy” and “I ♥ rain” show up only when the rain starts falling.

After learning about the rainworks installations in Seattle, staff at LOTT and the WET Science Center contacted Church to see if he would bring his unique art to Olympia. He happily agreed and began to dream up his largest installations to date. The process is fairly simple, but the result is a welcome surprise to unsuspecting passers-by. First, Church creates a stencil, called a drop-scotch, out of paper. Then, he sprays a nontoxic superhydrophobic (water repellent) substance through the stencil’s negative space and onto the concrete. Once dry, the repellent will last from four months to a year, depending on wear. Finally, the rain falls, darkening the surrounding concrete but leaving the sprayed portions dry, and the rainwork emerges. What on a dry day appears as a plain sidewalk suddenly becomes a mural when wet.

Rainworks-5These recent installations are located on the East Bay Public Plaza, in front of the Hands On Children’s Museum, and all around the WET Science Center. Images include stylized versions of salmon swimming upstream, frogs in a lily pond, the water cycle, and an image of Puget Sound and the marine animals that live there, reminding us that “a healthy Puget Sound starts with each of us.”

So the next time a family member is complaining about the rain, mention Peregrine Church’s rainworks, and his mission to make people smile in all types of weather. After all, Church is right – rainy days are going to happen no matter what – so zip up that raincoat and check out the rainworks at Olympia’s East Bay Public Plaza. Let them remind us of all the wonderful things the rain brings.


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