As part of her Cody Center exhibition, I Liked What I Saw, Dana Tanamachi produced a series of round works inspired by the decorative manhole covers she encountered in Japan.

“I was drawn to the art of Japanese sewer covers because the thought and consideration that go into these terribly mundane objects has always impressed and inspired me. The manhole covers in Japan each tell a story about a specific place, typically showcasing local scenery, wildlife, plants, and architecture.”

Though inspired by the art of the Japanese sewer covers, these round paintings were not intended to represent them. But the concept led to one more piece: an actual, cast-iron manhole cover that would be permanently installed at Laity Lodge.

Tanamachi presented a sketch that captured the Lodge in springtime: cliff swallows, a cardinal, a hummingbird, peach blossoms, Japanese maple leaves, Indian blanket wildflowers, cactus, catfish, bluebonnets, and the Frio River.

“... these terribly mundane objects [have] always impressed and inspired me ...”

Dana Tanamachi

That sketch evolved into a finalized design that was sent to Urban Accessories in Tacoma, Washington, for fabrication.

In early August, the finished piece (“Laity Lodge” 36”, grey iron, raw finish) arrived on-site and was installed outside the Great Hall. The entire process, including charcoal rubbings, is chronicled in the images below.

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