If you’ve been on the campus of the Pierce County Skills Center this year you’ve no doubt noticed the giant hammer resting outside the Olympic building amidst an assortment of giant nails driven into the concrete. This sculpture, entitled “Hit or Miss,” was created by Seattle-based artist Peter Reiquam through the Washington State Arts Commission, in partnership with the Bethel School District and Pierce County Skills Center.
The hammer – created from powder-coated aluminum and stainless steel – was recently dedicated on campus by Reiquam, members of the School Arts Committee, as well as a number of superintendents whose districts utilize the Skills Center.
The installation was supposed to take place prior to this, but Reiquam was involved in a motorcycle accident that landed him in the hospital for some time. “There was a delay as a result of that, but it turned out to be really fortunate,” he said. “I got an email from the powder coating company that I use that said, ‘Coming Soon: Wood-grain powder coating.’ I had never heard of this before, so I immediately got in touch with them.”
The new coating gave the hammer’s handle the realistic look it has now. But with such a wide variety of programs available at the Skills Center, how did Reiquam decide on a hammer?
“I was really inspired by the programs that are offered here. I would have thrived in a place like this when I was in high school,” he said. “I didn’t want to do something really literal that illustrated each and every single one of those programs for two reasons. One, I think that’s not very interesting intellectually or artistically. Two, programs change from time to time.”
Reiquam said deciding on one image that covered all the programs was a bit of a challenge. “I wanted something that was a little more universal and could speak to all of those programs. So my idea of this hammer is, that it is the archetypal tool. It’s the most basic tool, and by metaphor, represents all the tools used in all of the different disciplines that are taught here.”
The hammer is now a gathering place for students, with the giant nails acting as a seating area. One of the nails is even bent over like it was hit incorrectly; a detail Reiquam said was based on personal experience. “I don’t know about you, but when I learned to use a hammer I bent over a lot of nails,” he said. “The kids learn to do things by doing them – hands-on experience – and sometimes you fail. That’s not a bad thing, that’s how you learn. That’s how you learn any new skill; by making mistakes and improving your process and technique.”
Sounds like his giant hammer pretty much hit the nail on the head.
As part of the Washington State Arts Commission’s Art if Public Places program, “Hit or Miss” is now part of the state art collection, which consists of 4500 pieces throughout Washington.