Exhibit Review: Rainworks


By Tanya Silverman

There are ways to avoid the rain. There are ways to embrace the rain. There are places where there’s often a lot of rain. One such rainy place is the city of Seattle, Washington.

“It’s kind of dreary, is the way I used to feel about it,” says resident Peregrine Church on the soggy Northwestern climate. “But now it’s pretty exciting.”

What changed his attitude? Rainworks–a project operated by Church and his comrades where they take super hydrophobic coating and spray it through stencils of messages and art around the surfaces of Seattle’s sidewalks.

The Rainworks then show up when the rain wets them. Messages are positive like “Proud to be Rainy,” or cautious like “A healthy Puget Sound starts with each of us.” Others harbor a tinge of humor or irony, such as “There’s no bad weather/Just bad clothing choices” or “Error 404: Sun Not Found.”

Some pieces embrace being outdoorsy. Church tells me he and his friends just finished up one Rainworks with a depiction of hikers and rock climbers ascending letters that read, “Everything is possible.”

Beyond the art and words of Rainworks, some pieces are even interactive, like a hopscotch course that emerges when the sidewalk is damp. However, by the time I chat with Church about how the strip was holding up, he informs me it has faded–though they do have plans to install one at another spot in the city.

Church assures us that Rainworks is green. They purposefully use a brand of super hydrophobic coating called Always Dry, which is environmentally friendly. Church explains that his inspiration for Rainworks originally came from finding out about the capabilities of super hydrophobic coating and figuring out a creative use for the material.

It’s summer now, meaning that the dark clouds and watery drops won’t come around so commonly. But the climatic limitation serves as no hindrance. Church says that they might work up a Rainworks game, such as a scavenger hunt that participants perform by shooting surfaces with squirt guns.

Futher, although it might be difficult to come across the Rainworks during these less precipitous weeks, Church informs us we can always splash some water on them.

All photos courtesy of Rainworks and Peregrine Church.