At Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu and around Pike and Pine streets, women peer out of black and white photographs at passersby.
The nine older, queer women are the subjects of In This Place 206, an art project about the gentrification and loss of queer space on Capitol Hill.
“It’s really about taking up the space saying, ‘As you walk by this place, as you stand on this street corner, I stood here, I had a life here, I hung out here, I got my heart broken here,’” Nilda Brooklyn, one of the project artists told CHS. “It’s really just a reminder that there’s always somebody who came before us.”
— Ashwin Warrior (@ashwinwarrior) August 24, 2016
Brooklyn, a “second generation queer person” collaborated with her photographer friend Adrien Leavitt for the project.
The duo wheatpasted the first set of photographs last summer throughout Capitol Hill at separate locations that each subject identified as being significant to them. Those portraits have since deteriorated or been taken down, but new ones recently went up.
Brooklyn and Leavitt installed another round of the portraits on August 20th at Seven Star, where many of the women were founding members, former students or have supported it. The two also installed photos on August 22nd near the Elliott Bay Book Company, which is selling a zine of the project. The zine is also available at inthisplace.com.
This time they wanted to show the women as a group and remind people of the queer history of the neighborhood.
Brooklyn, a lawyer who dabbles in art, grew up in a queer home on Beacon Hill. During her youth, she spent much of her time on Capitol Hill, which has drastically changed even in the past two years, she said.
Having grown up in the queer and lesbian community, Brooklyn is connected to many older queer women. Those direct connections ended up being the subjects for the project.
Brooklyn and Leavitt asked the women three questions — their name, how they identified and where on Capitol Hill was important to them and why.
The artists decided to display the photos around the neighborhood instead of protected in a frame indoors to see how people and the weather interacted with them.
“You kind of have to release control. We would check on them, but when they were gone, they were gone,” Brooklyn said.
The photo that remained in place the longest last year was at 15th Ave and Republican. It stayed up about 15 weeks.
People added graffiti and doodles to many of the portraits, but while they might create something on the eyes or mouth of the subject, they would never fully cover the face, Brooklyn said.
The photos also include #inthisplace206 on them, so Leavitt and Brooklyn saw people’s photos and interactions with the art on social media. The response has been positive, Brooklyn said.
Leavitt and Brooklyn plan to photograph more women, but Brooklyn is hoping to find subjects who she doesn’t directly know.
“I think it’s important to document queer history, and I also think it’s really important in the queer community to have multi-generational connections,” Brooklyn said.