The Joseph Rossano Salmon Project

Collaboration in Conservation

School, an exhibition spearheaded and conceptualized by artist Joseph Rossano, casts light on the diminished state of global salmon and steelhead populations. The installation features a life-size school of several hundred mirrored salmon, sculpted from molten glass by concerned glassmakers from around the world as well as first hand video accounts from renowned scientists, artists, and native peoples.

Rossano's project is inspired by the Skagit River, the fourth largest outflow to the Pacific Ocean in the continental United States, and its dwindling run of salmon and steelhead. Once numbering in the millions, the Skagit’s salmon stocks now number barely in the tens of thousands. Whereas the river's steelhead population, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, now numbers only in the hundreds. Because the steelhead return to the Skagit in the late winter when cupboards were historically bare, they once served as an important food supply to indigenous peoples. The stories of the region’s people and their use of its land over thousands of years offers captivating and actionable insights that Rossano hopes will bring disparate groups together for the benefit of these fish and those dependent on them.

In the fall of 2018, Rossano gathered with artists, scientists, and a community of the concerned at the Museum of Glass to begin creating fish for the exhibition—kicking off a series of making events at venues including Schack Art Center and Hilltop Artists. Glassmakers across the globe were invited to create fish and send them to be silvered by Rossano before joining the exhibition at Bellevue Arts Museum. Once the exhibition concludes at BAM it will travel to other regions of the globe on a circular four year journey. On each stop of its tour, the exhibition’s narrative will expand to illuminate the particular issues faced by the region’s local fish and rivers before returning for exhibit to the place of its spawning, Museum of Glass, in 2022.

Before the school returns to its natal river, a population of makers will strive to exceed a symbolic 2,504 fish—the lowest return of Steelhead to the Skagit River to date—in order to demonstrate how a group of concerned individuals can work together to foment recovery. 

School Collaborators

School is a project rooted in collaboration. The list of contributors, comprising artists, curators, activists, and other community leaders who have lent their hand on this project, though ever-growing, includes:

Stephen M. Aldrich, Veda Angell, Jules Anslow, Montgomery Bowman, Katie Buckingham, Art Cass, Kathy Cass, Lucile Chich, Carie Collver, Trevor Covich, George Danas, Nick Davis, Helen Donahue, Penelope Dunnells, Vanessa Dunnells, Steven Fransen, Mark Garcia, Benedict Heywood, Susie Howell, Ayame Iishi, Ayla Janukajtis, Dr. Kimberly Keith, Curt Kraemer, Miguel Lomeli, Rob Masonis, John McMillan, Candice Reid, Scott Schuyler, Kevin Shinn, Terri Shinn, Joanna Sikes, Charles Stavig, Chris Taylor, Judy Tuohy, Ron Zuber

Julian Adkins, Coleman Anderson, Shane Anderson, Jesse Bach, C.B. Bell, Walter Biggs, Martin Blank, Michael Bray, Topher Browne, Dan Buchholz, Doug Burgess, Elias Burgess, Brandyn Callahan, Nick Chambers, Jason Christian, Nick Clawsen, Ben Cobb, Edwina Cusolito, Sean Dahlquist, Patricia Davidson, Joseph DeCamp, Abram Deslauriers, John DeWitt, James Downey, Jen Elek, Kristen Elliott, Brian Farmer, Gabe Feenan, Isaac Feuerman, Jerry French, Dan Friday, Sayuri Fukuda, Sarah Gilbert, Steve Gobin, Kayla Greet, Monty Gwaltney, Elias Hansen, John Harvey, Suzanne Head, Zack Hinderyckx, Eric Hoehne, Jessica Hogan, Meg Holgate, Todd Horton, Gregory Hunt, Madeline Hunt, Peter Jacobsen, Ben Johnsen, Jesse Kelly, John Kiley, Derrek Klein, Charlotte Kord, Richard Langley, Andy Lawrence, Jourdyn Leavell, Walter Lieberman, James Madison, Sam MacMillan, Carol Milne, Jason Mouer, John Olschewsky, Greg Owen, Greg Piercy, Laurie Povey Crawford, Sterling Powell, David Price, Trenton Quiocho, John Reed, Kait Rhoads, Ross Richmond, David Rios, Joseph Rossano, Samantha Scalise, Carrie-Lee Schwartz, Monique Simkova, Raven Skyriver, April Surgent, Sasha Tepper-Stewart, Mark Titus, Randy Walker, David Walters, Amy Wang, Kate Albert Ward, Lisa Young

Sherwin-Williams, Skagit Architectural Millwork, Edensaw Woods

Bellevue Arts Museum, Museum of Glass, Hilltop Artists, Schack Art Center


About Joseph Rossano

Joseph Rossano is a multidisciplinary artist who actively collaborates with prominent scientists and conservationists to create large-scale installations that explore the impact of humankind on the natural world. His work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the Seattle area and beyond, including Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA; Google, Palo Alto, CA; San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, CA; Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, home and library of President Theodore Roosevelt, Oyster Bay, NY; The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, responsible for nine Nobel laureates, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, among others. He is based in Arlington, WA. 


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Exhibition Credit

School: The Joseph Rossano Salmon Project is organized by Bellevue Arts Museum and curated by Benedict Heywood with assistance from Museum of Glass. Presentation is made possible in part by Sherwin-Williams and Edensaw Woods. In-kind support from Seattle SignShop.

with assistance from

with in-kind support from