by Mark Van Streefkerk
Blind or visually impaired (BVI) people navigate a world built for sighted people everyday, but how often do sighted people truly see these individuals or understand their experiences? The audio play Flying Blind! offers a candid look at life for BVI people, with plenty of insights for sighted folks to take note of. Produced by South Seattle-based Anything is Possible Theatre Company (AIP) and written by and with the blind and low-vision community, the play is a series of audio scenes, sounds, original songs, and music that together illustrate some situations BVI people encounter — situations that can be frustrating, misunderstood, or even comical.
“Please don’t tell me that I’m an inspiration just for getting out the door today. / Can you see that the main obstacle is not what I can’t see, but a society that’s not set up for people like me?” asks the opening song in Flying Blind!
“Our society is not set up for people who have blind or low vision — or any kind of disability really,” said Kathleen Tracy, composer and music director for Flying Blind! “[BVI] people are amazingly resourceful and can totally live their lives [in spite of] impediments, some of which are hilarious and some of which are infuriating.”
Continue reading ‘Flying Blind!’ Shares the Everyday Experiences of Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals
by Bri Little
Danitra Hunter has declared that after years in the making, 2021 is finally the year of Purrdie Burrdie. Hunter, an illustrator and preschool teacher for the YMCA in West Seattle, has been working on the Purrdie Burrdie brand for nearly a decade, acquiring various copyrights on her logo and her image of the stylish skateboarding bird. Now she’s finally ready to send her delightfully colorful children’s book out into the world.
Purrdie Burrdie I Love Myself, Can You See? helps children, particularly Black and Brown kids, how to love and have confidence in themselves. The book teaches affirmations and a 30-Day Self-Love Challenge — fun activities that encourage readers to treat themselves as worthy and explore what makes them unique.
Purrdie Burrdie was born from a coloring page that Hunter created and shared with children she worked with. As an educator, she realized that there was a need. Children, especially Black and Brown children, were not used to seeing themselves as beings who are worthy of their own love.
“A friend of mine who works in a YMCA program told me that kids, little Black girls, were denying their skin color … That just broke my heart,” said Hunter, “That’s really why I decided to dive deeper into [Puurdie Buurdie’s] story. To represent Black people, to represent us. Because I didn’t have a character as a kid growing up.”
Continue reading Self-Love Champion, Purrdie Burrdie, Is Here to Help Kids Spread Their Wings
by Samira George
(This article was originally published by Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Since the beginning of Louis Chinn’s art career, he has felt called to make art accessible and free for people from all social standings. It’s one of the philosophies that helps guide him to any new project.
So when an opportunity to install a stainless steel sculpture in front of the entrance of a Plymouth Housing building for folks experiencing long-term homelessness in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District arose, it was an easy decision for Chinn.
“I don’t think art should be something that is only for an elite social group,” Chinn said. “I was very much inspired by the fact that this was going to be a piece that was in a building for homeless people.”
Continue reading Louis Chinn’s Communal Perspective: Multimedia Artist Brings Creations to West Coast
by Alex Leviton
wrapped softly in an off-white threadbare blanket
Continue reading POETRY: A Promise of Love
with stained yellow satin trim
is a legal document
spun of the finest papyrus
rolled into a delicate shell
burnt edges gilded with flesh
‘you will love hotter than the sun’
… and it
you will crest a thousand waves
and descend ten thousand feet
look for the starfish hidden in the crevices
they will be your guide
when the waters run dark
by Chamidae Ford
Last week, the Rainier Arts Center premiered its first BIPOC Youth Film Camp. Reel Youth Film Camp is a week-long program that allows Black and Brown kids, ages 7–11, to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking and explore their creative side.
The idea for a BIPOC film camp stemmed from program instructors, Tiffany Bennett and Obadiah Freeman, who were feeling disappointed by the lack of diversity at other youth film camps.
“Originally we started doing camps with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and doing those camps was amazing,” Freeman said. “We both love teaching students of all ages of all types, but we recognize that SIFF was really only providing service to a certain demographic because of the network that they help. So we found that there are opportunities to make that opportunity for others as well … I’ve always been inspired by filmmaking and being Black. And that’s kind of what brings all of what I do together and, I think, what we do.”
Continue reading Reel Youth Film Camp Introduces BIPOC Kids to the World of Filmmaking
Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with youth at the Children & Family Justice Center (CFJC), King County’s juvenile detention facility. Many CFJC residents are Youth of Color who have endured traumatic experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These incidents have been caused and exacerbated by community disinvestment, systemic racism, and other forms of institutional oppression. In collaboration with CFJC staff, Pongo poetry writing offers CFJC youth a vehicle for self-discovery and creative expression that inspires recovery and healing. Through this special bi-monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. To learn more about Pongo’s work and hear directly from its youth writers, register for “Speaking Volumes,” Pongo’s second annual fall celebration.
PAIN IS FULL CIRCLE
by a young person, age 17
I want you to know what it’s like
when a person is in jail
A lot of people not around anymore
Nowhere to be found
Not answering their phones
Seeing people’s true colors
I want you to understand my pain
when I see the hurt I’ve caused
I feel worse about that than what I actually did
It’s deep inside
It feels bad
Consequences come all the way back around
from what I did
then getting locked up
which hurt my mom
Pain is full circle
I want you to know how I express myself
My actions are like my worst enemy
He doesn’t reflect my true values
He comes around when I’m bored
He’s the opposite of what I like to think of myself as
And who I want to be
If I could tell him something
I’d say Stay away
and don’t come back
I want you to know what I am capable of
My strength is like my best friend
He’s caring and kind
He puts others before himself
I want you to know my heart
Dedicated to my mom
Continue reading PONGO POETRY: Pain Is Full Circle
by Mark Van Streefkerk
Seattle is about to be teased, titillated, and thrilled at “What the Funk?!,” an all-BIPOC burlesque festival that kicks off this Thursday, Aug. 19, at The Triple Door. The festival includes three nights of shows and two days of workshops from a star-studded lineup of talent from the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S. Performers will be showcasing their scintillating skills all to the tune of the Funk, the whole Funk, and nothing but the Funk!
“What the Funk?!” will culminate in a closing night competition where a winner will be crowned the new Grand Master Funk. While the festival is sold out, there will be an after-festival CookOUT at Judkins Park on Sunday, starting at 1:00 p.m. and open to all. Find out more about the CookOUT and RSVP here. “We’re going to fire up the grill and cook until we run out of propane,” said Mx. Pucks A’Plenty (they/them and YAS QUEEN), the founder and co-producer of “What the Funk?!.”
Pucks is a Black, queer, nonbinary burlesque performer and producer (their production company Puckduction is co-producing “What the Funk?!” with Rebecca Mm Davis of the Stay Up Late show), who has compiled an impressive list of achievements since graduating from the local Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque only four years ago. They are also one of the co-founders of the Seattle Burlesque and Cabaret Co-op based out of Ballard.
YAS QUEEN says they watched a Netflix documentary A Wink and a Smile, which featured Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque in Seattle, and fell in love. “This is what I wanted to do,” Pucks said, remembering the moment. Not long after, they attended and graduated from the school and have since become a full-time performer and producer, all while surviving the pandemic and carving out spaces for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ burlesque to thrive in the Pacific Northwest.
Continue reading ‘What the Funk?!’ Festival Brings Three Star-Studded Days of Burlesque to Seattle
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.”
Continue reading ARTS at King Street Station Presents the BIPOC-Focused Exhibit ‘Close to Home’
by Nia Tero
(This article originally appeared on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
We are in a critical moment. In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic that is leaving no family untouched, compounded by increasingly extreme weather events linked to climate change, a unique global art project is shining a light on voices essential to the ecological solutions and collective healing we seek: Indigenous women.
“Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places” is a collaboration between two Seattle-based not-for-profit organizations — Indigenous-focused Nia Tero and design lab Amplifier — launching on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is Aug. 9. The global exhibit includes six original portraits commissioned from Washington, D.C.-based artist and illustrator Tracie Ching. The art will be available digitally as well as at public art events in cities, including Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York City, São Paulo, and London. The project celebrates Indigenous women who have acted as stewards of biodiversity across Earth and prompts action amongst an engaged global audience.
The nine Indigenous women at the center of this project are robust examples of real action we can take to strive for the health and future of the planet. They are from communities spanning the globe, from the Philippines and New Zealand, to the Brazilian Amazon to Scandinavia, to the global north, embodying Indigenous experience while carrying generational knowledge and inherited dedication:
Continue reading ‘Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places’: Pop Art Campaign Honors the Contributions of Indigenous Women to Global Biodiversity
Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with children at the Child Study Treatment Center (CSTC), the only state-run psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. Many CSTC youth are coping with severe emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Approximately 40% of youth arrive at CSTC having been court ordered to get treatment; however, by the end of their stay, most youth residents become voluntary participants. Pongo believes there is power in creative expression, and articulating one’s pain to an empathetic audience. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. To enjoy more of the writing you see reflected below, order a copy of The Story of My Heart, Pongo’s 16th anthology of youth poetry.
by a young person, age 16
There is a time in our life that it can get dark
But sometimes all we need is a small speck of light
At night, we wish there was a light to shine for us through
Hope is for everyone
Hope is strength
to make it through the hardest times in our life
We see the light tonight
but sooner or later the light will go
and then the light that is inside of our hearts
will shine for us
We can learn how to share it and show it
Continue reading PONGO POETRY: My Super-Hope