Hanford Inspires

Results from the Hanford Art Contest Illustrate How Artists Across the Pacific Northwest are Reclaiming Hanford's Nuclear Legacy Through Art

The Hanford Nuclear Site usually conjures up images of a desolate, contaminated wasteland, the kind of scene that inspires Mad Max-like nightmares. Contrary to this popular image, Hanford is located in an area of southeastern Washington that is full of biodiversity, the last free-flowing, undammed section of the Columbia River, the breathtaking White Bluffs, the best mainstem spawning for Chinook salmon, and so much more. 

To showcase this truly awe-inspiring place, Columbia Riverkeeper hosted an art contest calling on artists to depict what reclaiming this area from Hanford’s nuclear legacy and a clean and healthy Columbia River means to them.

Fourteen year old, Jazmine Cabaluna from Coquitlam British Columbia, Canada, won first place with her piece “An Impact on All."

Eagle By :Jazmine Cabaluna
"An Impact to All" by Jazmine Cabaluna, Winner of the Hanford Art Contest 2020

“I drew it because I wanted to depict the impact that dumping waste into a river can cause to an ecosystem and the animals living there,” says Cabaluna. “A healthy Columbia River means to me that those living there would live out healthy lives that should not be cut short because of dumped waste.” To hear more from Cabaluna, check out the video below.

Hanford Inspires: Hanford Art Contest 2020

Julia Rose Waters, took second place in the contest with her acrylic painting, “Confluence of the Spirit.” 

 “Confluence of the Spirit” by Julia Waters
“Confluence of the Spirit” By Julia Waters, Second Place Winner

In describing her piece Waters writes, “The painting is of a salmon struggling against the bonds of fishing wire while dreamy but sickly-looking strings of pearls float behind it. Its empty eyes represent an inner sacredness and power, as if the god of fish himself is the one struggling.” Waters continues, “The outcome is not clear. Will it escape or be caught?” Hoping that her artwork speaks to the nature of activism, Waters elaborates, “The story of healthy rivers can't end well without the actions of people who care. The painting's title also references this, representing the human spirit's forked path: action or inaction.”

Our third place winner for this year’s Hanford art contest is David Joel Kitcher, with his abstract work, “Nuclear Wasted.” Kitcher, who was raised in North Richland, WA, explains that he has recently started creating art that expresses some of the experience of growing up next to Hanford.  

David Joel Kitcher Nuclear_Wasted
“Nuclear Wasted” By David Joel Kitcher, Third Place Winner

As you can see from all of these talented artists, Hanford, despite it being the most contaminated site in the western hemisphere, remains a place that inspires us to dream, create, and imagine a Columbia River free from the threat of Hanford’s nuclear legacy. As these artists have shown, we all have a role in reclaiming the Columbia from Hanford’s toxic and radioactive pollution.

We at Riverkeeper are inspired and hope that you are too.Together, we can hold the U.S. government accountable and ensure that Hanford has a vibrant future—one that includes a clean and healthy environment and Columbia River that people, animals, and fish can call home.

Learn More

You can help protect the remarkable people and places that depend on Hanford.