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The Joseph Rossano Salmon Project

A Collaboration in Conservation

School is an international traveling exhibition spearheaded and conceptualized by artist Joseph Rossano that casts light on the diminished state of global salmon and steelhead populations. The installation features a life-size school of mirrored salmon-like forms, sculpted from molten glass by concerned individuals from around the world, as well as first hand video accounts from renowned scientists, artists, and indigenous peoples.

School is inspired by the Skagit River, the fourth largest outflow to the Pacific Ocean in the continental United States, and its dwindling run of salmon and steelhead. Once numbering in the millions, the Skagit’s salmon stocks now number barely in the tens of thousands. Whereas the river's steelhead population, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, now numbers only in the hundreds.

Because the steelhead return to the Skagit in the late winter when cupboards were historically bare, they once served as an important food supply to indigenous peoples. The stories of the region’s people and their use of its land over thousands of years offers captivating and actionable insights that Rossano hopes will bring disparate groups together for the benefit of these fish and those dependent on them.

In the fall of 2018, Rossano gathered with glass artists, scientists, and a community of the concerned at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, to begin creating fish for the exhibition—kicking off a series of making events at venues including Schack Art Center in Everett, WA and Hilltop Artists in Tacoma, WA.

In partnership with glassmakers across the globe all are invited to create fish at makers events hosted by partner institutions or in their own studios. The finished fish are then sent to be silvered by Joseph Rossano before joining the exhibition at its first stop, Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, WA.

After exhibiting at Bellevue Arts Museum from April 12 - August 11, 2019, School will travel to other regions of the globe on a circular four year journey before returning for exhibit to the place of its spawning, Museum of Glass, in 2022.

Before the School returns to its natal river, a population of makers will strive to exceed a symbolic 2,504 fish—the estimated lowest return of steelhead to the Skagit River to date—in order to demonstrate how a group of concerned individuals can work together to foment recovery.

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