Americans for the Arts honored 49 outstanding public arts projects created in 2017 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art. Chosen by public art experts, the roster of selected projects include: BORDERLANDS, an Exhibition by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture at Kingstreet Station Featuring: Anida Yoeu Ali, Carina del Rosario, Ryan Feddersen, Satpreet Kahlon, Pedro Lasch (lead project artist), Henry Luke, Ries Niemi, Crystal Schenk, and Inye Wokoma.
At a moment when Americans are experiencing challenges to their democracy and threats to the fabric of an open, inclusive society, the Office of Arts & Culture collaborated with artists to creatively confront injustice, to resist boundaries and build new frameworks to engender belonging. This collaboration culminated in a four-month exhibition titled “BorderLands”. The exhibition was free and open to the public from August 3rd through October 29th, 2017 and had an estimated 2,700 attendees. During the four months of the exhibition, the space was filled with workshops and events led by local artists, social justice leaders, and members of arts organizations exploring conversations of belonging and resistance. “BorderLands,” was a lesson in the visionary strength of artists to confront current issues and inspire individuals to be the change we want to see. A project by artist and educator Pedro Lasch investigating ideas of nationalism and belonging anchored the space, and was accompanied by responsive installations by nine regional artists. A simultaneous and parallel exhibition “And She Persisted: Voices of Women Artists” consisted of over 60 artworks from the City’s portable works collection. Both exhibitions shared not only the space but an exploration into the contradictions inherent in identity, nationalism, allegiance, and cultural symbols as the heart of belonging and the source of resistance. In emphasizing the strength of identity, both individual and societal, the artists offer a path to resistance. Resistance to borders that separate us, resistance to structures that oppress us and constrain our freedom. Seattle’s commitment to race and social justice, to dismantling structural oppression, guided these exhibitions that raised the voices of artists of color, of women, of allies. With this group of installations and the artwork in the city’s portable works collection, we share a mutual consciousness of being and belonging and resisting.