‘BACK HOME’ Wing Luke Exhibition Highlights Black and Brown Solidarity


by Ronnie Estoque

During the 2020 protests against police brutality and amid a global pandemic, local businesses across the city closed their doors and put up signs to cover their windows. The uncertain times gave light to many local artists who decided to use their time and talents to transform boarded up shop windows with murals. Located on Rainier Avenue, Paradice Avenue Souf, a collective of black and brown youth-focused artists, chose to create a mural to show the importance of multiracial solidarity in times of social unrest. Thanks to a collaboration with the Wing Luke Museum (WLM), their Black and Brown Solidarity mural alongside other artworks and installations are featured in their exhibition titled “BACK HOME”.

“That year we were more dedicated to uplifting BIPOC artists and focusing on black and brown solidarity, so it seemed like a really good opportunity for partnership,” said Jessica Rubin Walker, exhibitions director at the Wing Luke Museum, about the planning process that began in fall 2020. “We started thinking beyond just displaying the mural, but [that] what would a collaboration for a larger exhibition look like? »

This exhibit also features various artifacts and a short video documenting the history of PAS and their travels and relationships across Africa and Southeast Asia. The artwork was created by lead artists Ari Glass, Harry Clean and Jordan Nicholson and art director Gavin Amos-Lopez.

“We were tracking the migration of humans and that’s kind of like the concept behind that too,” Clean said of one of the exhibit’s themes. “We want them [viewers] to love themselves more, to appreciate themselves and to appreciate their ancestors. Have fun and just enjoy the moment.

The Paradice Avenue Souf “Black and Brown Solidarity” mural, created in 2020, is one of the pieces featured in their “BACK HOME” exhibition. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

PAS’s travels in Africa and Southeast Asia have also been a process of tracing the maritime Silk Road and seeing how art has been preserved in various cultural spaces. As they conducted their research, they reached out to community members like Geo Quibuyen, co-owner of Hood Famous, to find out more about the different areas they planned to visit.

“They [Geo] were able to give us more context, were able to search for more places, that reflected this or that energy,” Glass said. “They build around seasonal things like monsoons and wet seasons, dry seasons, Nile floods and things like that and see how everyone is connected, working with nature to work sustainably.”

  • Photo representing the plate of the
  • Photo representative

Their travels took them to Egypt, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand, which they documented through photography and videography. Before visiting these locations, PAS organized a retreat to help start the artistic creation process behind the exhibition, which gave them an idea of ​​how they wanted to compose their paintings. The retreat was beneficial as they had much more focus and fewer distractions around them. One of the PAS paintings in the exhibition is from 2014, when the collective was much younger.

“Much of the art was perceived before the trip. And then there are details that came in after seeing the trip,” Amos-Lopez said. “Another thing also is that the concept of the exhibition was so big. It took us years to really understand what we were doing. And we’re still working on understanding and learning how to make it work. . They [WLM] pushed us to dream bigger.

According to Glass, community input is an important aspect of their exhibit and they are eager to receive feedback. “BACK HOME” will be at WLM until March next year, but the PAS team is actively looking to make it a traveling exhibition that would visit different cities across the country and the world.

“We also kind of use this concept of the Seven Universal Laws…and seeing, you know, it’s all synergistic,” Glass said of “BACK HOME.” “South Seattle, we all have different backgrounds. It’s very diverse, but we’re all connected.

Photo illustrating the plaque which describes the artifacts in the
A plaque details the origin of each artifact in the exhibit. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

The PAS and WLM held an event to kick off the launch of the ‘BACK HOME’ exhibition, which was at full capacity as people enjoyed the upbeat music and delicious food. Prior to the opening, monthly meetings between PAS and WLM beginning in the fall of 2020 made the ‘BACK HOME’ exhibition a reality; WLM’s assistant manager, Cassie Chinn, was instrumental as the group’s organizer.

“We’ve heard great things from our visitors, especially those who have seen the smaller exhibits in this space,” said Rubin Walker. “It really transformed this space, with a really incredible activation with their video productions, in addition to their powerful two-dimensional work and the artifacts of their travels. For the past year, it’s really been activating the space in a new and exciting way.

Photo representing a hallway with the
The Paradice Avenue Souf exhibit “BACK HOME” includes a video installation that mimics a waterfall. Motion design and visual effects were created by Coi Dai Tran. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

Ronnie Estoque is a freelance photographer and videographer based in South Seattle. You can follow his work by consulting his website.

📸 Featured Image: “Mother of the World” premiered by Paradice Avenue Souf in 2022. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

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