Path With Art: Lost & Found with Trimpin

Participants from Path with Art attended an 8-week workshop with inventor-artist Trimpin to design and build an instrument made out of found, broken and retired objects that resonate to make sound. The workshop covered the basic mechanics of robotics in the process of constructing a unique instrument. This event is the culmination of a 3-year Seattle Symphony residency with the world-renowned Trimpin.

About Path With Art

Path with Art transforms the lives of people recovering from homelessness, addiction and other trauma by harnessing the power of art as a bridge to community and path to stability. We believe that all people deserve the chance to create and access art, regardless of their background or current circumstance. We are also driven by our vision: A world where arts engagement is recognized as transformative — connecting the individual with self, the self with community and communities with society. Every day we see the students in our award-winning arts education and access programs become more confident, stable and deeply connected in the world.


Born in Germany in 1951, Trimpin moved to Seattle, Washington in 1980 in search of found objects from the aviation and technology sectors that he could repurpose for art installations. Since then, Trimpin has become widely recognized as a kinetic sculptor, sound artist and musician, and his work can be seen through many commissions and public art projects in the Puget Sound region, across the country and around the world. Recipient of numerous awards and grants, Trimpin was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1997.

Thank you to the following organizations and individuals who donated instruments to this project:

Bill Anschell, Bischofberger Violins, Rebecca Cowan Hernandez, Guitar Center, Barry Lalonde, Ellen Morley, Radio, Roosevelt High School, Janene Sohng, Lorna Soules and Hanna Tyo

Trimpin with the Seattle Symphony is made possible through Music Alive, a residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA. This national program is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their presentation of new music to the public and build support for new music within their institutions. Funding for Music Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund. Additional support for Trimpin is provided by Moe and Susan Krabbe.

Artist Statements

CJ Chambers

I am not sure that I would consider myself as an artist yet. Just started at Path w/Art a few months ago. I am more of a craft person. I like helping make things, solving problems, sharing ideas. Leaving the musical elements to people who know how play instruments, I have enjoyed making contraptions that can be used to make sounds. Glad to help in ways I can. Thank you.

The Trickster

For me the howl is a mystery and symbolizes a lone yet social empathy of healing. My medium is wire which represents openness and was best suited for my skill set.

Michael Dare

Violins are too hard to play. Wouldn't it be nice if they could play themselves?

Take one: The Violin Family, clearly the bass has given birth to several mutant children who will grow up to be the world's first self-playing string quartet. Due to postpartum depression, mom has been atonal since the birth while dad, the electric guitar, is off who-knows-where practicing a solo.

Martha Furlong

I took a Path with Art drumming class a little while ago and Eduardo, the teacher, taught us how to make sticks to beat the drums with. That gave me the idea to make my own maracas. My maracas are made out of coconut water cans, dried beans, and duct tape.  They are rhythmic instruments.


The class opened my mind that everything created a sound, but having that sound be initiated in a performance setting was the real challenge. Using what I could find through recycled plastic and glass bottles, my castoff ceramic pieces and metal saw blades, I found tones through vibration; unseen waves filling the space with sound. By achieving this I find my door into the world of Trimpin. 

Aaron Hill

While looking at a plastic cup from Starbucks one day, I thought, “How could I make these into something musical?” So Trimpin and I began experimenting. We’ve inserted duck calls and recorders inside the cups that play when air from balloons is released.


I call my contribution Falling. It is inspired by gentle winter rain. I was interested in weaving together gravity and atmospheric responses — in exploring time through natural elements. My hope is that the result of my work is peaceful and pleasant music that inspires serenity in the observer.

Mary Moody

Inspiration, creative free will…
I hope my work conveys the power of collective creative, genius minds.

Ruanda Morrison


In the beginning when God created heaven and earth the BIBLE (Book of Instruction Before Leaving Earth) says he saw which is visual. The BIBLE does not say when sound began. I imagine that sound began as rainsticks. Sound is like the wind; no one knows where it came from nor where it goes to. Sound is like the wind — a continuous loop that has no beginning or end. This is the reason I call this piece Infinity.

Jessie Pedro

Blend Through Wind

My experience has passed as I built and designed my mechanical piece. Your turn to experience my piece. Remember, your experience is your story of my mechanical music instrument. Give it a whirl, you may never know where your story will take you.


Creative cacophony stretching the brain
Right angle relationships from Pythagoras
Scores of sounds in colored movements
Twas…phantasmagoric…trippin' with Trimpin at Benaroya Hall!


When I took this class I had no idea what to expect. Working collectively as a group, I was unsure what I had to offer. After a few classes it dawned on me that this is the definition of Community. The beauty of Art is that it can be molded into many forms. To be able to add something of my own freedom of self-expression and put it together with other artful minds-alike, demonstrates the beauty of a Community in its artful form.

Daniel de la Cruz

Well, I knew what Trimpin’s work was, and that’s what made me take the class. I saw his work at the EMP — the guitar. Everyone’s work was hard, so I picked something simple: a robot called BOBO. She makes me feel alive because I built her from my heart. We all needed a visual piece to go with the music. 

Posted on December 10, 2015