Artist Gary Carpenter poses for a portrait in Hamilton on Aug. 25 next to one of the terrazzo tables that is part of his art piece titled “Convergence.” The table is covered in water, which is when the colors in the art piece are most vibrant.
One of the terrazzo tables in the art piece titled “Convergence” is seen Aug. 25 in Hamilton
Artist Gary Carpenter uses a grinder to work on a terrazzo table Aug. 25 in Hamilton.
Pieces of colored marble are seen Aug. 25 in Hamilton.
One of the terrazzo tables in the art piece titled “Convergence” is seen Aug. 25 in Hamilton.

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Artist Gary Carpenter poses for a portrait in Hamilton on Aug. 25 next to one of the terrazzo tables that is part of his art piece titled “Convergence.” The table is covered in water, which is when the colors in the art piece are most vibrant.
HAMILTON — Artist Gary Carpenter’s work has always been heavy in terms of weight as well as meaning.
After all, his medium of choice is terrazzo, which consists of Portland cement and silica to which dyes, colored marble, glass and even mother of pearl chips are added.
Carpenter, who grew up in Sedro-Woolley, is putting together his latest in Hamilton.
The piece, which is titled “Convergence,” consists of four Borromean ring tables, three of which measure 10 feet across and weigh about a ton.
The three massive tables and their 27 accompanying terrazzo stools surround a smaller Borromean ring table with eight stools.
Each of the Borromean ring tables consist of three interlocking rings.
Carpenter’s projects have become favored by the Willapa Bay Wildlife Refuge, and that’s where his latest — and largest — work is slated to be installed Sept. 11 outside the refuge’s new headquarters near Long Beach.
One of the terrazzo tables in the art piece titled “Convergence” is seen Aug. 25 in Hamilton
Carpenter’s tables highlight the refuge’s three distinct environments — coastal old-growth forests, coastal beaches and the estuary.
Carpenter used both white and gray Portland cement, with batches dyed with natural pigments to complement or contrast with the colors of the chosen chip material.
For this project, he used 15 cement colors to attain what he described as “fairly muted coloring.”
“Because this is a lot of square footage, I was concerned about it sticking out and not appearing to be part of the environment because it is so much square footage,” he said.
“I didn’t want it to look like something in a mall. I wanted to honor what is seen in the area.”
Terrazzo designs are created through the use of metal strips that can be cut and bent to create separation between terrazzo colors, and can be used to create lettering or design accents.
As for the piece’s meaning, it not only lies deep within the recesses of the work but can be read upon its surface.
Artist Gary Carpenter uses a grinder to work on a terrazzo table Aug. 25 in Hamilton.
“I called it ‘Convergence’ not only because this is a place where different environments converge, but where people can converge,” he said. “They will be doing a lot of educational programs here, bringing kids in to learn about the area.”
This project, which Carpenter began in 2020, has grown into what it is now.
Each of the tables has a quote on its border, including one by marine biologist Rachel Carson that says, “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.”
Within each ring is a distinct species (12 in all) found in the area including river otters, giant salamanders, birds and salmon.
Each is brought to life through a lengthy and physically demanding process.
Pieces of colored marble are seen Aug. 25 in Hamilton.
Once the terrazzo cures, Carpenter picks up a heavy-duty grinder and begins to remove about 3/16 of an inch of concrete in order to reveal the inlayed mosaic as well as the metallic quotes.
“I used the mother of pearl quite a bit because it really pops, and plus it’s really appropriate with a beach environment,” Carpenter said. “Then I had like 25 colors of marble and probably have 30 colors of glass.”
And the Borromean rings?
“Borromean rings is where all the rings fall apart with the removal of one,” Carpenter said. “It really represents this environment, where the loss of only one species will have an impact on all the others.”
His art installation will indeed be prominently displayed.
“It’s right at the center of these three environments,” Carpenter said. “All three intersect at that very spot and all three are then interconnected.”
Each of the three rings of the large tables has three stools, which are precast reinforced concrete tubes stained in colors and patterns reflecting their corresponding environment. Each stool is topped by a species distinct to its ring’s specific environment.
Carpenter said in his project overview, “The three larger tables are positioned around the smaller, broken Borromean Ring table. The smaller center table represents a disrupted or broken set of Borromean Rings, with three fallen portions of the rings functioning as individual tables at different heights (with corresponding stools).
“The broken rings signal the consequences of poor stewardship and will feature images of endangered and extinct species in each respective environment.”
The project shows just how the entirety of the environment is linked.
“We tend to think of about one species at a time, say, ‘Save the plovers, they’re endangered.’ A lot of these animals are either endangered or threatened,” he said. “Save the plovers, save the whales, but we don’t tend to think holistically. The idea behind this is to think about the interconnection.
“The links between nature, that’s what’s represented. If one breaks, then there’s another and another. This is all about connection.”
Putting together such projects is a long process, but one Carpenter embraces and enjoys.
“I definitely describe myself as a throwback,” he said. “I like being hands-on. So many artists in this day and age don’t like the hands-on. Me, I’m a maker. I want to grind and bend and get dirty.”
One of the terrazzo tables in the art piece titled “Convergence” is seen Aug. 25 in Hamilton.
There was also a great amount of research that went into the project.
“I really love the back and forth with the biologists,” Carpenter said. “And the research on the species. What do you want to highlight? Why are they endangered? What’s the environmental issues and impacts? Learning all the specifics is fascinating. I guess I am kind of a nerd that way, but I really love the science.”
— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com. Twitter:@goskagit, Facebook.com/VinceRichardson/
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