Art can be made in many different forms and provoke emotions unique to how a person conveys it. Local artists Sue McGrew, 36, and Bethany Fackrell, 32, express their love for art with sand.
The two artists, along with team members Abe Waterman and Deane Arnold, have created a large sand sculpture that is on display until mid-September in front of Sammamish City Hall.
The artwork was made to honor the Snoqualmie tribe, and was built with 16 tons of glacial till sand, a local sand type that is found throughout Washington state.
The unique aspect of the sculpture is that it is two-sided. The front side, created by McGrew, includes a lake and evergreen trees to reflect the beautiful landscape of Washington. The sculpture also illustrates the Snoqualmie people canoeing alongside the Kokanee salmon to pay homage to their traditional way of life.
McGrew and her fellow team members took five days to complete their side of the sculpture. Ultimately, the goal was “to celebrate the connection [between] the lake” and the Snoqualmie people, McGrew said.
McGrew was brought up in Tacoma and now resides in Seattle. Her strong, passionate love for sand art dates back years.
Her interest in sand was first sparked during her high school days, when she watched another artist, Bert Adams, create his own sand artwork. In an effort to imitate his technique, McGrew attempted to create a dragon using sand. She showed it to Adams, who turned out to be amazed by her talent.
From 2006 onward, McGrew’s passion for sand grew, and she started competing at events at the international level. She broke the 2014 Guinness world record for the tallest sand sculpture and has been featured on two TV shows — “Sand Masters” and “Race Against the Tide.”
While McGrew has an extensive background with sand, the second artist, Fackrell, was working with the medium for the first time. She created the back side of the sculpture.
Originally from Kent, Fackrell thought this sand sculpting experience would be worth trying. Experienced with developing many tribal art pieces in partnership with the Eighth Generation gift shop at Pike Place Market, Fackrell wanted to expand her tribal art skills and apply them to sand.
Despite it being her first time, she made sure every aspect of her work held meaning. The artwork includes a large Salish moon, a salmon, and huckleberries.
The Salish moon, which has five dots on its head to represent the tribe, is the primary focus of Fackrell’s piece. It is a tribute to the Snoqualmie tribe as “Snoqualmie [are] known as the people of the moon,” Fackrell said.
The salmon near the bottom represents the Kokanee salmon found in Lake Sammamish, similar to McGrew’s piece. Lastly, the huckleberries symbolize Mt. Si, a popular landmark located in North Bend. It took a total of 16 hours for Fackrell to complete her design.
Since childhood, Fackrell was always fond of art. With her diverse skill set, she has done acrylics, digital art, cedar weaving, woodworking, and now a sand sculpture. All of these mediums allow her to express her love for traditional, tribal art. If given the opportunity to, she would gladly join the fun sand sculpting process again, she said.
The sand sculpture is located in front of Sammamish City Hall, and will be there through mid-September.