SEATTLE – July 18, 2016—For the first time in its history, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) will incorporate a comprehensive arts program into a major housing redevelopment. Funded by a grant from The Kresge Foundation, four artists will create permanent artwork and arts programming at Yesler. Artwork will enhance the many planned parks and open spaces, providing beautiful places for all to enjoy, and new avenues will be created for community members to engage in the arts.
Artists Charles Parrish and George Lee will create permanent works of art. Pat Graney Dance Company and D.K. Pan will develop community-based projects and programs. The grant also funds a summer youth media program managed by Seattle University and provides assistance to artisans living in Yesler to build their commercial endeavors.
“We are very excited by the caliber of artists who will be working at Yesler,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of SHA. “Their commitment to engage with residents at all levels, including youth, will create a more vibrant and connected environment.”
Yesler is a 30-acre site near downtown Seattle that was developed by SHA in the early 1940s as the city’s first publicly subsidized housing. Beginning in 2013, after years of working with the community on a master plan for replacing aging buildings and infrastructure, SHA embarked on a full redevelopment of Yesler into a new urban mixed-income community.
Changes have already been taking place, including new residential housing, a new community center in the historic steam plant, green spaces, pedestrian pathways, educational services and increased transportation options. The new Yesler Hillclimb, a terraced public stairway and ramp connecting Yesler with surrounding neighborhoods, showcases beautiful custom mosaic medallions, commissioned earlier by SHA.
Parked on land across from the main Yesler Community Center is the new Yesler Arts Mobile Studio (YAMS), a large recreational vehicle wrapped with its name translated into numerous languages, reflecting the diversity of those who live and work in the neighborhood. YAMS provides a working space for artists to interact with residents and community members.
Unique programming includes artists working with P-Patch gardeners and the Black Farmers Collective, which will manage a 1.5 acre urban farm located along the western border of Yesler.
Under the current Kresge grant, the selected artists will work in the Yesler community over the next two years, establishing a foundation for ongoing artistic endeavors in the new community
About the Artists
Pat Graney Company
The Pat Graney Company creates, performs and tours new dance/installation works and conducts arts-based educational programming. Their Keeping the Faith (KTF) Artist Team residency program features dance, expository writing, American Sign Language and visual arts.
“The Pat Graney Company/KTF artist team is so excited to begin our year-long artist residency serving those in Yesler and surrounding communities.” —Pat Graney
George Lee is a sculptor and installation artist specializing in site-specific art, community engagement, and investigating unseen elements and interconnections in everyday lives. Lee’s work engages multicultural and underserved communities.
“I am excited to practice art as a catalytic process at Yesler, engaging community members as I work on site-specific sculpture that integrates concepts of memory, place, time and home.” —George Lee
D.K. Pan investigates the intersection of place and memory through video, performance, installation and interventions. Pan is interested in art as a catalyst for social change, in service of love and freedom.
“Yesler reminds me of the neighborhood I grew up in, Koreatown in downtown Los Angeles. Our neighborhood was the street and parking lots, shared public spaces. It is this intimacy I wish to encapsulate as a document of a specific time of shared memory.” —D.K. Pan
Charles Parrish is a sculptor who has lived at Yesler for 30 years. Specializing in stone carving, Parrish creates portraits in low relief and three dimensional forms. He considers his work to be about the politics of black people and often chooses black historical figures as his subjects.
“The ideal of Yesler Terrace residents is to unite and live side by side in peace with equal respect for all. I would like to instill that into my work at Yesler.” —Charles Parrish
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved 370 grants totaling $125.2 million, and nine social investment commitments totaling $20.3 million. For more information, visit kresge.org.
About Seattle Housing Authority
The mission of the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes. SHA provides long-term, low-income rental housing and rental assistance to more than 30,000 people in the City of Seattle. SHA owns and operates approximately 8,000 units at nearly 400 sites throughout the city. SHA also handles more than 10,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, enabling low-income residents to receive rental assistance throughout the Seattle housing market. Approximately 13,000 SHA residents are elderly or disabled and about 9,500 are children. SHA, a public corporation established in 1939, is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are SHA residents. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. More information is available at seattlehousing.org.