Photo of two art pieces side-by-side on a white wall in a gallery.

ARTS at King Street Station Presents the BIPOC-Focused Exhibit ‘Close to Home’

by Chamidae Ford

As a part of their soft reopening, ARTS at King Street Station presents “Close to Home,” an exhibit that explores how we understand the meaning of the word “home.” 

Showcasing the work of 14 different BIPOC artists, the exhibit features work with a wide range of mediums, from painting and sculptures to textiles and artifacts. 

The exhibit is assembled by Ricky Reyes, the ARTS at King Street Station gallery lead and public art project manager. He turned towards their collection of purchased pieces for inspiration. 

“I looked through pieces we had purchased last year as part of the Seattle Together Initiative, which was a multi-departmental initiative really looking at how we support communities [during] COVID,” Reyes said. “We had purchased, last year, a bunch of artwork and I just looked through those [pieces] and tried to find a common theme throughout all of them so that we can exhibit these works and they don’t just stay in our storage when ideally they’d be shown, since they’re all just really beautiful pieces.”

Reyes hopes that the wide range of approaches the artists had to the idea of “home” will cause viewers to think critically about their own beliefs around the concept.

“It’s 14 BIPOC artists from a variety of mediums and aesthetic backgrounds really speaking to their own interpretations of home,” Reyes said. “You’ll walk through and you’ll see all of these pieces that speak to each other loosely thematically … and in a really large variety of ways. So my own hope is that folks walk through and they’re questioning what makes their own home distinct.”

The press release notes that the exhibit “asks viewers to actively engage with questions” as they move through the installation: “Who gets to define what makes places important or meaningful? Where do we individually fit into community definitions of belonging? What does it look like to keep records and pay respect to our community members who have stewarded the land for generations?”

Photo of a mixed media image depicting a female-presenting Asian-presenting individual in traditional clothing with an orange tentacle or tail instead of legs. The individual is made of a black-and-white vintage photo as well as another clipping, and the individual stands on a background of a East Asian ink landscape painting.
“Metaphor of my mother,” missTANGQ. Mixed media, 2018. Photo courtesy of Seattle Arts and Culture.

Close to Home explores the many layers of how we view our home. In a city that has been heavily gentrified and continues to displace its BIPOC community, some of these artists have created pieces that explore that reality. Others address how their childhood understanding of home has transitioned into their adult lives. 

Reyes mentioned one of his favorite pieces from the exhibit is a multimedia sculptural piece by Hongzhe Liang titled “名媛 (rich, cultured beautiful social butterfly female trying to be a celebrity).

“It’s this really interesting sculptural piece and basically, Hongzhe is creating this imaginary nest for a turtle that they had at the age of 12, which parallels the sense of home and comfort that they wanted to provide but also didn’t really know what it looks like for their own selves. …” Reyes said. “It’s this really interesting piece that looks at care and how the care that we received really defines the care and home that we give to others and other species.”

After spending the last year inside, this soft reopening exhibit represents a time to explore our relationship with home while also supporting local BIPOC artists.

“To be able to have the opportunity to actually show folks who have been doing the work of really developing what it means to be artists and cultural workers in Seattle and to be able to show their work at King Street Station was something that felt really special,” Reyes said. “It also felt like a great opportunity to really look at how we can lean on our own collection of artwork as we try to balance reopening the gallery during COVID without sacrificing the hard work of our future exhibiting artists.”

The exhibit will be on display until Aug. 14. You can find more information about ARTS and King Street Station’s safety measures and hours on their website.

Chamidae Ford is a recent journalism graduate of the University of Washington. Born and raised in Western Washington, she has a passion for providing a voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine, and Capitol Hill Seattle. Reach her on IG/Twitter: @chamidaeford.

📸 Featured Image: “Gallery View of In The City,” Ahmed Davis. acrylic, 2020 (right) and “Deceiving the Gods,” Jonathan Wakuda Fischer, spray-paint and stencils on Canvas, 2009 (left). Photo courtesy of Seattle Arts and Culture.

Before you move on to the next story …
The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. 
If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. 
We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!