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Seattle Office of Arts & Culture presents Remembrance by Jasmine Brown, part of the Dialogues in Art: Exhibitions on Racial Injustice series

March 14 – May 13, 2016 at Seattle Presents Gallery in the Seattle Municipal Tower; Reception April 7 from 5:30 – 7 p.m.; artist talk May 12 at noon. 


Jasmine Brown - Trayvon Martin IconSEATTLE (March 8, 2016) —This spring the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) will feature Remembrance, a residency with artist Jasmine Brown in the Seattle Presents Gallery. The residency will showcase Brown working on egg tempera portraits of murdered youth of color painted in the Byzantine icon style. Brown will include portraits of Tamir Rice and Michael Brown in her installation. Brown will be in the gallery on Thursdays beginning March 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through May 13.

Rememberance is part of the Seattle Presents Gallery series Dialogues in Art: Exhibitions on Racial Injustice, a yearlong exploration of artists’ and curators’ interpretations of racial injustice and systemic racism impacting Black and African-American people throughout America. The series will feature residencies, installations and curatorial projects by Jasmine Brown, Mark Mitchell, Shaun Scott, Elizabeth Spavento and Xenobia Bailey. Artist Barry Johnson opened the series with Sign of the Times, January 18 – March 11, 2016.

Brown lives in Tacoma, WA and earned her B.F.A. from Howard University and M.A. from UCLA. Her artwork is in the collections of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Brown is influenced by the sacred art of several world religions and artworks. From African masks, Voodoo textiles, Buddhist thangkas to Russian and Ethiopian icons, they all have ceremonial significance and spiritual potency that she strives to embody in her work.

For Brown the media coverage of murdered youth has a voyeuristic curiosity and quality, as if dead children were merely fictional characters in an episode of a popular crime drama. On the other hand, the artist views purely journalistic coverage of these deaths as too detached to fully acknowledge the humanity of the victims or the depth of their relatives’ grief.

“I paint icons in a painstaking technique practiced by the Orthodox Church to create timeless spiritual images that invite contemplation,” says Brown. “They portray subjects with a dignity that is traditionally reserved for angels, saints, prophets and martyrs. My work depicts these tragedies in a way that honors the personhood of the victims by calling attention to these tragic killings while encouraging the viewers to grieve and find solutions to urban violence.”

On Thursday, April 7, ARTS will host an artist reception for Jasmine Brown in Seattle Presents Gallery from 5:30 – 7 p.m. with refreshments, and music by Larry Mizell, Jr. There will also be a lunchtime lecture on May 12, at noon with Negarra Kudumu, Adult Programs educator, Frye Art Museum and artist Jasmine Brown. Kudumu and Brown will talk about the power of portraiture in the gallery. 

The Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with the Office for Civil Rights, is committed to addressing, and increasing community-wide awareness about, existing inequities so that we, along with our cultural and community partners, can most effectively work together toward a vision of racial equity. Seattle Presents Gallery features a variety of immersive installations, curated exhibitions pulled from the city’s Portable Works Collection, resident artists, and original artworks. The gallery presents both emerging and established artists and curators, and provides all who pass by the opportunity to engage in diverse arts and cultural experiences. 

About the artists

Xenobia Bailey studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, and received her BA in industrial design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Her pieces are often connected to her ongoing project “Paradise Under Reconstruction in the Aesthetic of Funk”. Her designs draw influences from Africa, China, and Native American and Eastern philosophies, with undertones of the 1970’s funk aesthetic. Bailey has been artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in New York City. Bailey co-organized a Black Cultural Workshop with the African-American inmates at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary and Monroe State Reformatory in the 1970’s. Her work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Jersey City Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and NAAM. Her work is in the permanent collections at Harlem’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Allentown Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Arts, and the Museum of Arts and Design. 

Jasmine Iona Brown was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and traveled to five continents before settling in West Seattle. She earned her B.F.A. at Howard University and her M.A. from UCLA. Her graduate study in ancient history and cultures led her to incorporate antique artistic mediums, such as egg tempera, into her artwork. She is fascinated with the human face and the tragic narratives of marginalized people. Brown is the recipient of a 2011 Puffin Foundation Grant to paint a series of Byzantine style egg-tempera icons memorializing a few of the many children of color that are lost to violence. 

Barry Johnson is a Washington-based visual artist and filmmaker from Kansas who’s had a range of works in visual art and film shown across the U.S. and the world. Waking up at 2 am every morning to paint in his studio, Johnson works tirelessly to create pieces that challenge views on gender, race, sex, and sound. His work is a result of events taking place around the world and in everyday life.

Mark Mitchell is an artist who speaks to social issues through textiles. His contributions to Seattle’s cultural community bridge a number of disciplines, including art, music, theater, fashion, activism, and education. He is the subject of the award-winning documentary film Burial, and presented a performance and exhibition of the same title at the Frye Art Museum in 2013. Mitchell was recently artist-in-residence at The New Foundation Seattle where he continued to develop his new group of sculptures concerning racism and mass incarceration called Burial 2. He was a finalist for the 2015 Neddy Award at Cornish in the open medium category. In addition to his fine art practice, Mark has worked extensively as a costume designer, maker of custom clothing, tattoo artist, and teacher.  His in-studio workshops are a popular introduction to his personal techniques used for hand-sewing, embroidery, and silk flower making. He lives with his partner of fourteen years, Kurt B. Reighley.

Shaun Scott is a Seattle-based independent filmmaker whose first feature film was “Seat of Empire” (2009), a 3-hour long documentary tour of the city of Seattle using archival footage. In 2010 he directed and wrote “Waste of Time”, a historical mash-up of original footage, archival images, and contemporary music meant as a portrait of consumer capitalism.

Elizabeth Spavento is interested in identity politics (particularly as they relate to race and gender), the untapped potential of space, altered states of consciousness and unstructured time. Her practice seeks the fringe as a way to push back against hegemony, and her work tends to favor alternative spaces and community-driven practices. She has curated exhibitions for Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in Portland, OR and Open Source Gallery in New York, NY in addition to exhibiting her own work in Buffalo, NY. Spavento’s most recent project, ALL RISE, was a two year series of temporary public artworks punctuated by performance, video and music on a 90,000 sq. ft. gravel lot in downtown Seattle. She is the 2016 visiting curator for Interstitial, Seattle’s premiere exhibition space for artists working in new media. Elizabeth Spavento currently lives nowhere in particular and works everywhere she is.