A day of remembrance and love, sweat, and tears marked Pride weekend on Capitol Hill Saturday and the dedication of the AIDS Memorial Pathway connecting the new plaza above the neighborhood’s light rail station to Cal Anderson Park, named for the first openly gay member of the Washington Legislature who died of AIDS in 1995.
“After six years of planning, artist selection and development, it’s finally time to share these beautiful artworks with the community,” Jason Plourde, project manager for the memorial, said. “The artworks and the themes of The AMP will bring important and meaningful connections to this special public park.”
Meanwhile, with the city emerging from the last days of months of COVID-19 restrictions, news spread Saturday of an in-person Labor Day Pride coming to Capitol Hill later this year. Pride 2021 might as well have also been rescheduled due to heat — Seattle hit 102 F just before 4 PM Saturday afternoon and is forecasted to reach new highs on Sunday and again on Monday.
Seattle’s largest Pride events opted to remain virtual again in 2021 with a full day of online celebration slated for Sunday.
Saturday, a handful of smaller, in-person Pride events and parties took place in addition to the pathway dedication including a silent DJ dance party in Cal Anderson.
There was also good news for larger in-person celebrations later this summer. PrideFest, the 501(c)3 behind Seattle’s Pride festivals, announced PrideFest Capitol Hill will take place Labor Day Weekend, September 4th and 5th. Organizers said they are working with Gender Justice League, the producers of Trans Pride Seattle, Seattle Dyke March, and other non-profits to integrate elements of their traditional yearly activations into the weekend’s festivities. PrideFest said it also coordinating with LGBTQIA+-owned bars and clubs to participate in the temporary Pride weekend move to Labor Day weekend.
The good news came amid a powerful and emotional day for many at Saturday’s AIDS Memorial Pathway dedication. Visitors to the Capitol Hill Station plaza and pathway along the north edge of Cal Anderson gathered to meet some of the artists who worked on the memorial and added names and personal messages to a large red ribbon that will be made a part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a part of the National AIDS Memorial.
The pathway’s centerpiece rises in the Capitol Hill Station Plaza an elegantly incorporates a large block full of transit system utilities.Artist Christopher Paul Jordan’s andimgonnamisseverybody is a giant X made from speakers, a 20 foot by 20 foot structure, designed by the artist to represent X as a positive symbol turned on its axis to erode the perceived binary between HIV positive and HIV negative people and symbolizing a solidarity between the two. Jordan told CHS after his selection last year that “the general attitude that a lot of folks have is, ‘Well it doesn’t really affect me, I’m negative.’ There’s a respectability culture around HIV negative status that sees itself as separate from the crisis, as some people have access to healthcare and support they need.”
The art of the AMP
- We’re Already Here by Civilization. We’re Already Here commemorates the collective action that defines Seattle’s dynamic response to the AIDS crisis.The work consists of three tableaus that use protest signs and their accompanying messages to evoke historic moments of public convergence. Within the timeline of the epidemic, there are countless examples of such moments. Protests, demonstrations, parades, vigils and memorials were events where diverse communities came together in alliance against the shared exigency of AIDS and HIV. These civic spectacles were crucial in breaking through the silence, apathy and ignorance that accompanied the deaths of thousands during the first decade of the epidemic. The specific artifacts referenced in We’re Already Here were sourced from actual demonstrations that took place throughout the region during the eighties and nineties.
- andimgonnamisseverybody by Christopher Paul Jordan. 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 their own. The speakers form an X, or a positive sign on its side, engaging our connections to the ongoing AIDS crisis, our connections to those no longer with us and our ties to our communities of resilience.
- Ribbon of Light by Horatio Hung-Yan Law. This is a series of three human-scale laminated glass sculptures 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 pathway (meandering near the main concrete path) and encounter the three stations, which will provide places of reflection and contemplation.
- In This Way We Loved One Another by Storme Webber. This is a historical remediation, restoring missing narratives of working-class activists, healers, leaders, witnesses and ancestors lost to the AIDS crisis. The images and narratives presented were collected through decades of community building and more recent oral histories. HIV and AIDS continue to affect communities of color globally, most specifically Black communities. This artwork lifts up the lives of people who transformed the world through their work and struggle, and who made a path by walking through racism, homophobia, fear, and structural oppression, and found joy with each other. The subjects at the center of this artwork changed lives by confronting discrimination and building communities of fellowship for activism and healing. The artwork remedies the absence of stories of women as leaders and transformative forces in the fight against HIV. The installation illuminates the triumphs of marginalized working- class community members of color, and glorifies the ways in which they found strength and vision to create safe harbors with each other.
The newly installed work joins other recently installed elements of the pathway connecting the plaza to Cal Anderson Park. CHS reported previously on the We’re Already Here installation from design firm Civilization that has added colorful, provocative signs to the area around the station development with messages based on research of messages from “collective action” — protests, demonstrations, rallies, and campaigns — from activism around the HIV/AIDS crisis.
More art will extend the pathway into Cal Anderson Park. Additionally, the Seattle-based 3-D digital art production company Novaby was hired by The AMP to make the memorial accessible to audiences through an augmented reality (AR) app. One of its features is The Names Tree. Inspired by the Chinese scholar tree on the northwest corner of Cal Anderson Park, the work commemorates those that have died of AIDS and provides space for reflection. You can learn more at theamp.org.
The $2.9 million public-private pathway project has been powered by developer Gerding Edlen, Sound Transit, SDOT, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and Seattle Parks and Recreation along with major support from community fundraising.
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