From public parks to private gardens, Washington Rock has provided material to many different projects. But June provided a first for us: supplying material for an art installation.
From June 2017 through February 2018, the Tacoma Art Museum will showcase Zhi Lin’s work in an exhibit entitled “Zhi LIN: In Search of the Lost History of Chinese Migrants and the Transcontinental Railroads.” The exhibit explores the forgotten work and lives of Chinese migrants on the transcontinental railroads.
At one end of the exhibit, rail ballast provided by Washington Rock acts as a stage atop which a projected video plays. The video shows a reenactment of the Golden Spike Ceremony from the point of view of a Chinese worker. The Golden Spike Ceremony celebrated the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in Utah. Chinese workers laid the final length of rail but were prevented from attending the ceremony.
Six thousand pieces of ballast bear the few recorded names of Chinese workers. The names represent a foreman and his crew of 20 to 30 men. The display paints a somber picture: the celebration is figuratively played out on the backs of Chinese workers, memorialized on stone, but they are physically absent from it.
Zhi Lin’s work is presented in several forms, including Chinese ink drawings and woodblock prints using mixed media. Lin uses bold colors to represent the struggle of workers laying railroad in the harsh sun of the desert and the frigid winter snow.
Lin uses Chinese ink drawings to recreate the landscapes workers would have seen working on the railroads throughout the American West. Handwritten notes head each painting, providing information about the lives of Chinese workers.
One section unique to the TAM exhibit documents the lives of Chinese migrants in Tacoma. A section of maps shows the research Lin has done to mark the homes and businesses of Chinese residents in the late 1800s.
November 3, 1885, marked a tragic event in Tacoma history: the forced expulsion of over 200 Chinese migrants. Lin drew scenes around Tacoma from the perspective of the victims of this event.
The event is further memorialized in a large, unrolled scroll running down the middle of the exhibit. Modern buildings such as the Tacoma Art Museum and Union Station contrast with the violence of the 1885 scene.
We are proud to have our material used in this incredible exhibit. The exhibit will be on display until February 18, 2018. More information is available on the Tacoma Art Museum website.
For more information about Washington Rock’s ballast products, visit our Ballast Products page.