Salmon Banners, Gabe Babcock’s Prints Help Improve Water


Gabe Babcock’s Salmon Banners presented a striking installation in the Woolworth Windows during April-July 2017 round of Artscapes installations. The prints are referencing Northwest Coast style of art, using bold black areas filled in with a split fountain technique. This effect blends two colors, in this case a gradient from a rich red to other colors, including a darker maroon, warmer brown or yellow, each creating a unique print of a fish.

Babcock’s goal is to “provide an image for people to connect over.” His initiative is a “way of tying art, culture and conservation efforts together.”


The artist hangs the salmon banners as if they were actual salmon being hung to dry. The subtle differences in the color contrast the repetitive pattern of the hanging images. Each salmon becomes an individual in a collection, mimicking the diversity that takes place within populations of species in their natural environments.

Babcock’s inspiration for this concept was an indigenous tale from the northwest. According to the story, a Native American family goes to gather salmon from the river, but their children were disrespectful to their family and the environment. To punish the children and teach them the importance of these resources the parents threw them into the river. The salmon saved the children from drowning. With the children safely on the shore the salmon promised to return every year providing endless supply of nutritious salmon as long as the people were respectful to nature. That is why the salmon is shown carrying a child in the prints. This image was used by the indigenous people and placed next to salmon traps to thank the salmon’s return.


The significance and impact of this work, now more than ever, is amplified. We live in a time where habitat destruction, lenient environmental policy and destruction and depletion of our natural resources are becoming increasingly common.

Babcock explains “They [salmon] are a huge part of the Native American culture, a keystone species as well as an indicator species. If a river has a strong run of Wild Salmon it is a sign of a healthy aquatic ecosystem.” Babcock’s artscape is especially relevant today because if we continue mistreating the environment, it will no longer provide us with food.

The banners are also part of a larger environmental protection initiative. Through sales of prints, The Salmon Banner Project donates 100% of profits to non-profit organizations promoting sustainable watersheds. Purchase one of these unique prints and learn more through Gabe Babcock’s website

All photos by Kris Crews