Artist Amanda Wojick is creating an art installation that will hang in the Salem Public Library following the seismic retrofit. (Courtesy/City of Salem)

A secret hidden in the Opal Creek Wilderness inspired an art sculpture that will be installed in the Salem Public Library this summer.

Artist Amanda Wojick read a Statesman Journal article about a group of hidden waterfalls tucked away in a heavily wooden wilderness area a two-and-half hour drive east of Salem.

“A lot of my work is about imagined landscapes or places you can’t really see. I just loved that,” she said of the hidden waterfalls.

Wojick said her installation, which will be made of painted steel and span 20 feet by 14 feet, will incorporate the idea of viewing a waterfall from different angles because the piece will overlook the main floor of the library from the second floor.

The installation will also have numbers to represent wayfinding books on the shelves by using call numbers.

She said the numbers connect the shapes of the waterfall and noted they could have significance.

“It’s been exciting. It’s fun to make a number five that’s 5 feet tall,” Wojick said.

Wojick is a professor at the University of Oregon who teaches sculpture.

Her artwork was selected by a committee that included members of the Art Commission, Library Foundation, Library Advisory Board, Hacker Architects, and library staff.

Salem law requires construction projects on public buildings spend 0.5% of the total budget on public art. The piece cost $81,500.

The library’s seismic retrofit is expected to be complete in the next few months, with the library moving materials back starting around June.

Wojick said she’s inspired by the natural and diverse landscape of Oregon, featuring boulders or cherry trees in some of her work.

She said she loves libraries, and it’s her preferred place to visit whenever she travels to small towns.

“It’s a free, interesting place to spend time,” she said.

When the library art project came up, a friend told her, “I know you love libraries, you should apply for this.”

She said she was surprised and excited to be selected because it’s a competitive process.

Kathy Ursprung, city spokeswoman, said 33 artists responded to a request for proposals.

Wojick said Constance Fowler, a painter and printmaker known for her depictions of the Northwest, was a protagonist in her research for the piece.

Fowler was a founding faculty member of Willamette University’s art department and one of her pieces from 1934 titled “Gardiner, Oregon (The Village)” is part of the Salem Public Library’s collection.

Wojick likes the idea of the two pieces hanging near each other.

“She was a distant spirit for me to think about,” Wojick said.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

Salem Reporter counts on community support to fund vital local journalism. You can help us do more.

SUBSCRIBE: A monthly digital subscription starts at $5 a month.

GIFT: Give someone you know a subscription.

ONE-TIME PAYMENT: Contribute, knowing your support goes towards more local journalism you can trust.