Seattle ceramic artist Steve Gardner designed the art for the High Point Branch. The terra cotta panels tell stories from around the world about the sky - the stars, moon and sun - all became the inspiration for this series of sculptures. Like the sun, moon and stars, the library provides illumination and inspiration for all.
Why the Moon is Free (Mexico)
This is the story of how the Moon outsmarted the amorous advances of the Sun by making him promise to make her a gown that would fit her perfectly. As she waxed and waned, he could never get it quite right.
The Sky Camel (Somalia)
This star legend refers to a dark spot in the southern night skies that has the shape of a camel without a tail. It is said that long ago this camel lived in a different part of the sky, but once, after a long drought, the people below tried to catch him. They built a tower to the sky and climbed it, but when the man at the top grabbed the camel's tail, the camel fled, his tail came off and everyone fell to the ground.
The Silver River (Asia)
This is the story of two lovers, the weaver maiden and the buffalo boy, represented by the stars Altair and Vega, who are separated by the Silver River (the Milky Way). They are allowed to be together for one week each year on the seventh day of the seventh month, which is when the two stars are closest to each other. They cross the Milky Way via a bridge of magpies.
Pushing up the Sky (Native American - Snohomish)
This star legend tells of how people long ago decided to get together and push the sky up higher because it was too low and was always getting in the way. But three hunters who were out hunting elk didn't hear about the plan. When the fleeing elk jumped up into the sky, the hunters followed them and they were all raised up with the sky. The hunters and elk were turned into stars resulting in the constellation that we call the Big Dipper.
Phaeton and the Sun (ancient Greece)
This is the legend of Phaeton, the son of Apollo, who is granted his one wish: to drive the chariot of the sun across the sky in place of his father. However, he is too inexperienced due to his youth. His horses stampede and his chariot and the sun swoop too high, causing the Earth to freeze. The chariot and sun then dip too low, causing the land to burn. Eventually, Zeus is forced to strike him down to save the Earth. It is said that after he died, his grieving sisters were turned into poplar trees and their tears were turned into amber.
Also set within the brick of the High Point Branch are horizontal bands of terra cotta tile and smaller sky legend sculptures. The inspiration for these includes a Chinese petroglyph depicting a comet, a bronze age "map" of the stars, the "drinking gourd" constellation that escaped slaves used to guide them to the north, the story of Raven stealing the sun, and the Nordic legend of the wolf, Hati, and the moon. There are also various traditional depictions of constellations.
For more information about the artist, the panels and the legends, including a bibliography, download the Art Guide: High Point Branch.