Watermark is a collaborative project of artists Vaughn Bell, Sarah Kavage, and Nicole Kistler.

is a public artist who focuses on engaging people in a deeper understanding of the living world. She prefers to work in places and in media that are accessible to everyone. Nicole feels she has created something successful when her work takes on a life of its own. Whether that’s providing a springboard for the ideas, experiments and energy of others or allowing a natural process to run its course. Through her narratives, Nicole exposes the folly of issues for what they are and introduces alternative viewpoints and possibilities through humor. As a project manager in traditional public involvement projects, she is interested in exploring the creative process of art making and temporary art projects as a means of public participation, as a process instead of a product. While often drawing from her background in Landscape Architecture, she has found that art allows people to engage in discussion while suspending tightly held beliefs – to be amazed, surprised, and inspired.

One recent work, “The Living Barge Project”, a temporary, floating island full of ferns, shrubs and tree seedlings on an industrial tank barge, provided a cataylst for the local community to bring attention to neighborhood and pollution issues on the Duwamish River. In another project, “Tour from the Future” (part of GrassRoutes), she used the premise of viewing our current reality through the point of view of the future to get participants thinking about the ramifications of our choices. Her project, Mighty Manimal March, at Arizona State University in October 2007 used humor to engage Arizonans in a conversation about urban sprawl.

SARAH KAVAGE is a multidisciplinary artist and urban planner. Her varied experience in project management, education and community outreach in collaborative and multidisciplinary settings has lead her to develop a number of public and installation based art projects in parallel to a body of two-dimensional work. She uses a variety of media to explore the themes with which she is most interested – communication and the transmission of information, the intersection between the manmade and the natural, and all permutations of urban environments. Her work is infused with social commentary, with a goal of participation and genuine engagement with viewers.

Kavage’s most recent public project was the Living Barge Project, a large-scale temporary installation developed in collaboration with landscape architect Nicole Kistler. An industrial barge planted with the native plants of Seattle’s Duwamish River basin, the Living Barge floated on the Duwamish in April 2006. With about $20,000 in cash funding for the project, Kistler and Kavage procured over $40,000 in donated goods, services, and volunteer time, including the barge itself. They partnered with several local organizations, a shipyard, a bar, a park, and a high school to schedule events in conjunction with the display of the Barge and to reach out to the larger community about the history and environmental issues surrounding the Duwamish. The program and posters for the installation were translated into three languages.
Kavage’s other paintings and installations have been exhibited around Seattle at venues such as Priceless Works Gallery, SOIL, Zeitgeist, and Crawl Space.

VAUGHN BELL is an artist and educator. Her work encompasses installations and performances involving living plants, multi-media video installation works, and public interventions. She has exhibited work in venues across the United States including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago and Portland, OR, as well as the UK and Japan. Recent solo shows have included “Becoming a River” in Kamiyama, Japan, “New Pioneers” at Disjecta Art Space in Portland, OR, and “from Sea to Shining Sea” at SOIL Gallery in Seattle. She has also recently participated in group shows at Dam, Stuhltrager in Brooklyn, Allston Skirt Gallery in Boston, the Soap Factory in Minneapolis and the Cambridge Art Council Gallery in Cambridge, MA. Recent grants and awards include the King County 4Culture Special Projects Grant and the Site Specific Performance Network Grant for the “CUV (Cultivation Utility Vehicle)” series of public performances. She received full fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center and the Millay Colony for the Arts, was Artist in Research at the Berwick Research Institute in Boston in 2004, and was selected as the 2007 international artist in residence for KAIR in Kamiyama, Japan.

Vaughn has taught or been a visiting artist at Massachusetts College of Art, Montserrat College of Art, Syracuse University, and Ursinus College, most recently teaching at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University. Vaughn received her MFA from the Studio for Inter-related Media at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She currently is based in Seattle.