Photo headshot of artist Buster Simpson.

Buster Simpson's Migration Stage was installed in 2023 and is located at the southern end of the Park Promenade, near the Pioneer Square Habitat Beach.

"The environmental restoration of the urban water's edge calls for an honest aesthetic, with dynamic agility in the face of climate change, as we enter the human-influenced Anthropocene epoch."

Artist Statement

Buster Simpson's project, Migration Stage, is a response to the Habitat Beach that has been built in conjunction with the reconstruction of the Alaskan Way Seawall. The Seawall sits on old landfill not far from the original boat landing and village sites of the Duwamish Tribe, now known as Pioneer Square Historical District.

Two key interests of Simpson’s have been the marine and shoreline habitats and the environmental forces that affect them; and the waterfront as a site of exchange, that is, the working waterfront and port coupled with the evolving environmental / urban shoreline edge that Migration Stage pragmatically serves. With Migration Stage, he has deployed two sculptural editions. Anthropomorphic Dolos is made up of fourteen dolosse (plural of dolos), and SeaBearer consists of fifteen SeaBearer artworks, all to be used as utilitarian amenities. Simpson has strategically situated these poetically utilitarian and forward-thinking sculptural placements along the Waterfront promenade.

Anthropomorphic Dolos and SeaBearer are sculptural and practical constructs that both, furnish a present-day amenity zone, and create a staging area for eventual inland migration due to rising sea levels. Urbanists of the future will find useful repurposing applications for Anthropomorphic Dolos and Sea Bearer, utilizing them as kits of parts to be used for adaptive and resilient civic infrastructure purposes.

Installed on the waterfront promenade, Anthropomorphic Dolos functions immediately as a seating and play element. Originally invented in 1963 in South Africa, dolosse were designed for shoreline stabilization based on the structure of the knucklebone, a form that was also in common use for a children’s toy and for a device used by water diviners. Dolosse evolved to become interlocking sea armor systems used worldwide. Along the Seattle Seawall, Buster Simpson’s adaptation of the form for Anthropomorphic Dolos is a 2600-pound mass with "armpit" holes that function like Salish anchor stones to secure and hold. In this case, large buoyant biomass is what would be secured. Anthropomorphic Dolos stands ready to be engaged to be used for shoreline habitat enhancement anchorage and wave attenuation.

SeaBearer which serves initially as seating, will be made up of multiples of sixfoot long reinforced concrete units consisting of three thirty-foot sections to equal ninety-feet of total seating along the promenade. The form of the units suggests images from both Seattle’s historical and its contemporary working waterfront. This imagery includes improvised sand bag barriers as a defensive action against storm surges; offloaded sacks of goods; and contemporary bulbous containers abundant with consumer goods. The forklift pick slots serve as a nod to history and will be useful during future stage deployments. Etched on the surface of the SeaBearer units will be names of ports of call that share in our global climate disruption.

The Migration Stage is set. Children who play upon Anthropomorphic Dolos today, may as adults be tasked with repurposing the sculpture for sea rise mitigation use. This is our storytelling opera, our Salish Sea dance of resilience, agility, equity.

A close-up perspective of the SeaBearers, six-foot long reinforced concrete units which will also function as seating
A close-up perspective of the SeaBearers, six-foot long reinforced concrete units which will also function as seating | Click to enlarge
A close-up perspective of the SeaBearers, six-foot long reinforced concrete units which will also function as seating
Image of Secured Embrace, artwork by Buster Simpson showing a dolos and root wad at the entry of the Frye Art Museum, 2013. | Click to enlarge