CWU News

Gallery One Features Mapping Plutonium by CWU Art and Design Chair

The Hanford Site, also known as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is the most radioactive contaminated place in the United States. It is the largest environmental cleanup project in the world.

Drawing on those dark realities, Gregg Schlanger, Central Washington University's Art and Design chair, focused on issues relating to the United States development of nuclear weapons in his sobering installation, Mapping Plutonium: The Hanford Site. The exhibit opens on October 6 in the Main Gallery at Gallery One in Ellensburg. An opening reception begins at 5:00 p.m.

According to Schlanger, Mapping Plutonium is about the secrecy; the environmental disasters; the toll of human health; the deceptions of the corporations and government; the nuclear waste; and the denial.

"This exhibit contains art and artifacts," Schlanger noted. "It is part fact and fiction."

The Hanford Site was built in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project. The 586-square mile site is located in central Washington along the Columbia River. The B Reactor is 65 miles from Ellensburg. Hanford once had nine operational nuclear reactors and five plutonium processing complexes. Hanford produced most of the plutonium that was used in the production of the 60,000 nuclear weapons the United States manufactured.

"I am concerned with the truth and the myth, with secrets and public knowledge," Schlanger stated.

Known for his thought-provoking works on nature and the environment, Schlanger came to Central after 19 years as a professor and interim chair of the art department at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.

“I am very interested in exploring through my projects the potential of creating a better ‘sense of place,’ leading to a respect for that place and the environment,” he said. “I believe this can happen through community involvement and the educational aspects that occur, which deal with the various concepts of my work.”

The exhibit is part of the Ellensburg First Friday Artwalk and is sponsored by David Fiske of Edward Jones and Fitterer’s Furniture.

Photo: Mapping Plutonium installation detail
Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,