About the artwork

Artwork by Fernanda D'Agostino and Valerie Otani at the Greenwood Branch
Artwork by Fernanda D'Agostino and Valerie Otani at the Greenwood Branch

The historic texts, maps, rare books and cuneiform tablets seen in the windows came from the collection of several libraries, including:

  • The Seattle Public Library
  • Lewis & Clark College Library in Portland
  • John Wilson Room of the Multnomah County Library's Central Library in Portland
  • Library of Congress
  • Iraq Museum International in Baghdad

Many of these texts refer in some way to a journey, beginning with the cuneiform text of Babylonian king Gilgamesh's journey of self-discovery into the woods more than four thousand years ago.

Into the Woods is in the meeting room facing Greenwood Avenue North. The golden woods unite the other imagery in the window. It refers both to Greenwood's past as a forested area and to the dream of widely shared knowledge.

The small window in the quiet room is called Gilgamesh Enters the Forest. The tablet represents the huge span of time, place and culture that is available to you right in your own neighborhood.

The window in the main reading room that faces the Cascade Mountains is called Portrait of a Reader. The young girl in the image is a Greenwood Branch patron.

Artists' statement

"Our goal  was to bring together art and architecture to explore the world of knowledge and information. The final artwork uses layered images in three glass windows to reveal the richness of the life of the mind that takes place within the walls of the Greenwood Branch.

The journey "into the woods" is a metaphor for the journey of exploration, knowledge, self-discovery and transcendence that unfold in a library. Books - called "talking leaves" by some Native peoples - inspire an interplay of page, text and leaf motifs. We hope library users will see their journey as one filled with meaning and inspiration."

Artist bios

Portland artist Fernanda D'Agostino approaches each public art project and design team collaboration as an opportunity to create a poetic space uniquely suited to its site and audience. Over a dozen years of experience working with virtually all materials suited for public art allow her to create work that feels indigenous to its place, whether it be a gritty urban train station, a library, or a pristine wetland. Successful design team collaborations with landscape architects, architects and engineers have resulted in integrated works that have a sense of inevitability and dramatic impact. D'Agostino sees public art as a kind of mirror to the community that can reveal hidden aspects of a particular time and place, and tell people a story about themselves that they might not have known before. D'Agostino was the lead artist on the Greenwood Branch project.

Portland artist Valerie Otani sees public art as connecting people to a site and strengthening the impact of a place in the context of urban design. Creating lively public spaces with artwork that intrigues, challenges and inspires us is part of a larger goal of improving the quality of civic life. Much of her work has been on design teams, identifying opportunities and maximizing the impact of art in a total project, then doing a project as well. Her work reveals an unknown aspect of everyday experience - a revelation that creates a bond linking us to our place in our community. Otani provided design team collaboration on the Greenwood Branch project.