Timber Lines is a podcast series exploring art, history, community and cedar created by visual artist Mary Coss and inspired by her monumental scale (8’ x 44’) public artwork, Ghost Log.
The artwork is located on Coast Salish Land on Commencement Bay, at Dickman Mill Park in Tacoma, Washington. The lacy abstracted cedar sculpture is embedded with references to the Puyallup Tribe, whose ancestral homeland the park sits on, and the Dickman Lumber Mill which was on the site for 90 years before it burnt down on January 6, 1979.
While conducting research for this project, Coss spoke with several individuals with connections to the site. These stories began to reveal many complex layers of history and inspired the creation of two sound components, which enrich the sculpture. This podcast, Timber Lines, explores the history of the land through interviews with local historians, Puyallup tribal members and former millworkers. Ghost Timbre is a 13 minute audio collage that incorporates local stories, songs, waves, native birds, a working vintage lumber mill and other sounds related to the history of this site. The sound pieces were created with Artist Residency support at ALMA Studios in Tacoma and Jack Straw Cultural Center in Seattle. The music is composed by Mary Coss’ daughter, internationally recognized jazz musician and composer, Roxy Coss hereand streaming everywhere.
In episode one of Timber Lines, visual artist Mary Coss discusses Ghost Log, her monumental-scale sculpture located on Coast Salish land. The public artwork sits at Dickman Mill Park on Ruston Way in Tacoma, Washington. Coss sits down with her Project Manager and Public Art Specialist Rebecca Solverson, from the Office of Arts and Cultural Vitality, City of Tacoma. Solverson asks Coss about her artistic process from the development, design and research phases through to fabrication and installment.
Timber Lines Host Mary Coss is joined by guests Brandon Reynon, Cultural Resource Manager of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ Historic Preservation Department, and Michael Sean Sullivan, Writer, Historian and Co-Founder of Artifacts Consulting. Reynon and Sullivan discuss their perspectives on the history of the Ghost Log site, the city of Tacoma and its surrounding areas. Coss, Reynon and Sullivan discuss pre-colonial times, the colonization of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the logging industry.
Related Links: Click here to learn more about the Puyallup Tribe of Indians Historic Preservation Department, and here to see stories and photos of the history of Tacoma. Music by Roxy Coss can be heard here and streaming everywhere.
In the third episode of Timber Lines, host Mary Coss is joined by Amber Sterud Hayward, Language Program Director of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. They have a conversation about Lushootseed, the Coast Salish language of the Puyallup Tribe. Hayward shares the Lushootseed words used in Coss’ sculpture Ghost Log, and explores additional phrases and songs. Coss and Hayward discuss the implications of the Language Program’s sustained efforts to revitalize Lushootseed.
Timber Lines Host Mary Coss’ sculpture Ghost Log memorializes the Dickman Lumber Mill which operated for ninety years on Ruston Way in Tacoma, Washington. In this episode, we hear from Claire Keller-Scholz, Tacoma Metro Parks Historian, on the registration of the site’s historical artifacts, the history of the Dickman Mill and the controversy surrounding its eventual demise.
Click here to see the National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form for the Dickman Lumber Company Head Saw as well as photos of the Head Saw and Carriage after the fire.
Host Mary Coss’ sculpture Ghost Log sits with a vintage reclaimed artifact, the head saw and carriage from historic Dickman Lumber Mill. Coss is joined by former Mill employees Milt Farvour, Dan Croupf and Paul Plein, who all worked at the Mill in the 1960’s and 70’s. Coss and the Millworkers discuss the working conditions, community of employees and culture of the Mill as well as its associated dangers.
Host Mary Coss’ Ghost Log sits on Coast Salish land, the traditional homelands of the the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Connie McCloud is a Puyallup tribal member, and has been the Director of the Puyallup Culture Department for over twenty years. Coss and McCloud consider the Puyallup Tribe’s relationship to the natural environment and specifically, the sacred Cedar Tree. Contemplations of the Cedar Tree inspire conversations about the evolution of history and the commodification of the land.
In addition to the theme music, this episode includes several Salish songs written by Zalmai ʔəswəli Zahir for the preservation of the Twulshootseed Puget Salish Native American language. They include: Song for Us: This song refers to the language and culture; Celebration of Taking Our Shoes Off and Reestablishing Our Connection with Mother Earth; and Traveling Song (Intended for Land). You can access these songs and more here.
In this final episode of Timber Lines, artist Mary Coss considers what she has learned throughout this series and the evolution of this project. Coss introduces and plays her masterful sound piece entitled Ghost Timbre, which she created to accompany her sculpture Ghost Log.
Listen to Ghost Timbre here; Learn more about the Jack Straw Artist Support Program here; Visit ALMA Studios here; Hear more of Roxy Coss’ music here or wherever you listen to music.