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‘FIGHTING FOR OUR LIVES’ — Latest addition to Capitol Hill’s AIDS Memorial Pathway adds messages of action on way to June opening

After a year mostly lost to the COVID-19 crisis, Capitol Hill Station’s AIDS memorial project connecting the transit hub’s mixed-use development and plaza to Cal Anderson is taking shape and on track for a June 2021 completion. This week, an important component of the AIDS Memorial Pathway was installed, adding new messages to the area from time of the height of the AIDS crisis that the project’s organizers and contributing creators say are relevant and important for today’s Capitol Hill.

“We not only wanted to do messaging that was relevant, that was authentic,” Gabriel Stromberg of the Civilization firm tells CHS about the We’re Already Here installation added to the pathway this week. “But we also wanted to find messaging that represents different experiences in the AIDS crisis.”

Stromberg and Corey Gutch say the Civilization creation of bright signs now on display at the Broadway development and plaza is based research and community review of messages from “collective action” — protests, demonstrations, rallies, and campaigns — from the activism around the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Jason Plourde, manager of the AIDS Memorial Pathway Project, says that realness, relevancy, and diversity of experience is a key component of the pathway.

“What’s remarkable about the AMP is it does allow for this opportunity for a variety of experiences and emotional connections to the story of HIV and AIDS,” Plourde said Friday as the latest additions to the project were installed amid busy worksites putting the final touches on the Capitol Hill Station developments. “So, there’s definitely grief and tragedy connected to that story but there is also celebration and joy in remembering what people brought to the world before they were impacted by AIDS and also how people stepped up and cared for each other in a time of huge crisis.”

There is also, definitely, a lot of color. Stromberg and Gutch said the bright colors of the sculptural signs installed this week are meant to both evoke the evolution of the Pride flag but also to stand out as wayfinding markers for the pathway meant to connect the future plaza to the north end of Cal Anderson Park.

The We’re Already Here piece makes the second of four works from four different creators to be installed at the site. The first completed installation, In This Way We Loved One Another by artist Storme Webber, was dedicated last year. You can see it inside the ground floor of the 110-unit affordable housing Station House building already open to residents at the site.

Two more works will be installed in coming months as organizer hope for a June 2021 completion for the pathway:

  • “andimgonnamisseverybody” by Christopher Paul Jordan. Jordan will create this 20-foot tall sculpture made of silent speaker equipment that he says “exists both to celebrate the lives of those no longer with us and to galvanize ongoing action.” The piece is a portal into the spaces of radical gathering, hospitality, celebration and care that Black, brown, poor, trans, queer and otherwise excluded communities have forged to take care of our own. The speakers form an X, or a positive sign on its side, engaging our connections to the ongoing AIDS crisis, to those no longer with us and to our communities of resilience.
  • “Ribbon of Light” by Horatio Hung-Yan Law. Law is a Portland-based installation and public artist who will create the Cal Anderson Park artworks called “Ribbon of Light.” A series of three human-scale illuminated sculptures will be placed along a landscaped pathway adjacent to the main trail on the north edge of Cal Anderson Park. Inspired by the words of poets impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the artworks of “Ribbon of Light” represent pieces of the sky that have broken into sculptural fragments and fallen to the ground, allowing the illumination of our communal mourning and embodying the ephemeral, changing and shifting nature of grief. The park visitor will be invited to walk along a meandering pathway (adjacent to the main concrete path) and encounter the three stations of “Ribbon of Light,” which will provide places of reflection and contemplation.

Friday, Plourde said the next installation to watch for is the big 20-foot-tall “X” of Christopher Paul Jordan’s andimgonnamisseverybody.

The $2.9 million public-private pathway project has been powered by developer Gerding EdlenSound TransitSDOT, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and Seattle Parks and Recreation along with major support from community fundraising. CHS reported on the project and its artists here early this year.

Though it is opening more than a year later than originally expected, Plourde says the pathway is coming at a time it is needed.

“It’s important to remember our history. It’s important to learn from some of the lessons and messages that came from that time,” Plourde said. “You’ll see just on these signs there’s ideas and concepts that were important then but are still relevant today. I think we can use a lot of what we learned and experienced through AIDS and HIV in today’s pandemic but also other social justice issues that we have to face.”

You can learn more and support the project at theamp.org.


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John Whittier Treat
John Whittier Treat
1 month ago

This is wonderful. So glad Seattle’s memorial will not be “discreet” like New York’s.

Soo Valley
Soo Valley
1 month ago

Nor will it be beautiful, like the AIDS Memorial Garden in Golden Gate Park.

catherine hillenbrand
catherine hillenbrand
1 month ago

Glad to see the AMP manifesting, step by step. and yes, ever timely.

CHqueer
CHqueer
1 month ago

It is exciting to see this coming together as a memorial to lost family and friends, symbol of resiliency, and reminder of the link between past and present struggles for justice.