With reporting and photography by Lisa Hagen Glynn
The “windows” above the reflecting pool of the landmark reservoir gatehouse in Cal Anderson Park are displaying artwork from local middle school kids that provides one answer to the threats coming out of the White House so far in 2017. But for the students, the images unveiled at a ceremony Saturday reflecting on “feelings of home, forces that create change, and survival” are personal.
“She’s cutting herself to feed her baby. It’s showing how a mom loves her kids…. My mom does a lot of things for me,” Natanim said about her panel. “Even though she doesn’t tell me, I know that she does.”
The artwork from Washington Middle School students will be on display through May as part of a collaboration between the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Out of School Time program at Washington’s S Jackson campus.
“This is a metaphor of sacrifice and journey, and what happens when you are forced to leave your homeland to take care of your children,” teaching artist Nate Herth said during Saturday’s ceremony. “In this case, the plates are empty, the refrigerator is empty, and in the background is the portrait of a deceased father. The country shows the geographical origin… and the mother is literally cutting herself and feeding her children with her own body… [Sacrifice] is not a theme that is depicted in our mainstream media — it’s not in our narrative.”
Students worked with teaching artists Herth and Henry Luke for more than 10 weeks to design and create the 14 original paintings. The Gate House will be an ongoing venue for the project. Last May, CHS visited as a set of student artworks was installed.
Saturday, Mayor Ed Murray congratulated the students for their “incredible” work.
“This artwork and the themes you all chose almost anticipated what happened this week with the new administration’s executive orders in an attempt to punish cities like Seattle that are going to stand with immigrants,” the mayor said. “And as you know, this morning at our borders, refugees are being detained. So the fact that you students have a message that is pretty different than what we’re hearing from the White House is pretty incredible, and I can’t thank you enough for that.”