John and Ashley1SUCCESSION: The Exchange Project is an installation and community engagement project about “place”. It is a site-specific response to the Seattle neighborhood of Pioneer Square, a central hub for visual art galleries and art events in the city.

The installation will open at King County’s Gallery 4Culture on January 7, 2016 following a month-long generative residency in the space. The gallery is located in the Tashiro Kaplan Building, originally called the Exchange Building when it was built in 1907, that now provides subsidized housing and studio space for working artists, and galleries on the ground floor. This building and much of the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood has been inhabited over decades by the arts community, creating meaningful community and “place”. There is also a significant homeless population in the neighborhood. The area accommodates multiple organizations that provide services to the marginalized.

These two communities that closely share the neighborhood are largely segregated for myriad reasons. We encounter each other on the sidewalks, yet we artists rarely venture into the spaces of the homeless and they rarely venture into ours. There is a dynamic tension between the two demographics existing right up against each other that is filled with complex visceral emotion, elemental need and vulnerability, all in the context of an under functioning social services infrastructure. A central theme of the project is to explore connections between these communities, seeking awareness through the experience of “exchange”. The exchange process starts with myself, by personally delving into the world of the homeless community, inviting them into mine, and inviting others to come along.

I work through a model that I’ve developed (and continue to develop) that creatively integrates community groups that are centrally related to the theme of a project directly into the generative process. For SUCCESSION I led two community engagement art making workshops at The Recovery Cafe and at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. The art created in these workshops will be a part of the final installation at 4Culture. The participants will be honored as creators and invited to attend all project events.

During the project I’ll be giving a talk to the students of Sawhorse Revolution’s high school girls class, an organization that offers year-round programming in carpentry for youth, and that has served Seattle’s homeless community through their workshops and design/build initiatives. One or more of the high school girls will be invited to utilize their skills for creating part of the installation during the December residency in the 4Culture gallery.

A video project will be a part of the installation that engenders intentional contact by pairing artists and homeless folks through a simple, direct physical language of engagement.

The installation also includes steel sculpture, wall collage and more.


SUCCESSION: The Exchange Project has received generous support from a King County 4Culture Arts Projects Grant and has also received partial funding by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

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About SUCCESSION: The Exchange Project | 2015 | Installation, SUCCESSION: The Exchange Project