The City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture is thrilled to share peeks at some of the videos represented in Solar Utopias, a series of art film/videos made by twelve local film and video artists responding to the question: What is a solar utopia?
The online screening premiere of Solar Utopias is scheduled for February 12, 2021 at 7pm via the Northwest Film Forum. The screening will include all twelve films as well as a live streamed artist Q and A. Tickets are free with an RSVP at https://bit.ly/solarutopias
This teaser features excerpts from the following artists’ videos:
Seven Suns is a poem about the nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma at the center of our solar system.
For Solar Forests, I utilized my skills as a carpenter and fascination with wood as a living medium to explore the inner workings of a tree. Utilizing a portion of a responsibly harvested tree, I animated growth rings to illustrate the passage of time in the life of one of these solar powered behemoths.
Crown Crest is a short animated video sculpted and animated in VR, following a baby bird’s transformation in a junkyard.
Sphere of Influence
The filmmaker’s family business in the 1970s was a solar powered water heating company called Suncor that had an optimistic start until government subsidies were removed. This animation imagines a deep future where such programs had been allowed to thrive. It samples colors from the Seattle overcast sky, and voyages near the sun where future dwellers in golden suits communicate through unicorn horns and live in satellites made of fruit.
7th sun of the 11th sun
7th sun of the 11th sun is a sonic collage building space for utopia to smell, taste, look and feel right now. Spaces to rest and be still, green rainforests, arm-reaching saguaros, fresh baked cookies, dancing the way one’s body wants to move, deep breaths, bitter gooseberries, pierogies on the beach, grandmother’s rainbows, forgiving yourself, radio prairies, solar consciousness–all right now, all at once & always/all ways.
C. Davida Ingram
As Yet Untitled (of fire & water)
Taking a peripatetic view of liberation via glimpses of life pre-pandemic and during the historic 2020 lockdown, this is a meditation on freedom dreams. Taking long pauses and short glimpses, different realities merge here including that of archive, documentary, and imaginings. Vocalists Johnaye Kendrick and Momma Nikki furnish freedom songs to help settle the score in this imaginary. Along the way, portraits of 21st century abolitionists, local youth, artists, and organizers shift and shape this elliptical untitled experimental video diary.
This project is commissioned with Seattle City Light % for Art funds and administered by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
The online screening premiere of Solar Utopias will include all 12 films as well as a live streamed artist Q & A. Solar Utopias is a series of art film/videos made by 12 local film and video artists responding to the question: What is a solar utopia?
The artists creating work for this project include Brent Watanabe, C. Davida Ingram, Clyde Petersen, coley mixan, D.K. Pan, Inye Wokoma, Satpreet Kahlon, Stefan Gruber, Susan Robb, Tracy Rector, Webster Crowell, and wynne greenwood. Britta Johnson, the project’s curator, has made introductory and closing videos for the compilation.
The COVID-19 pandemic, uprisings for racial justice, and growing climate emergency have thrown many of our societal systems into question; now more than ever, it is necessary to envision possible futures.
The project takes into consideration the limitations set by the current “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order – work was created on a small scale, with available gear and resources, using a variety of live-action and animation methods. Each artist brings their own unique perspective in answering “What is a Solar Utopia?” and interweaves themes from Seattle City Light’s mission into the work: sustainability, environmental stewardship, and renewable energy.
This project is commissioned with Seattle City Light % for Art funds and administered by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
About the artists
BRITTA JOHNSON is a Seattle-based artist. She makes stop-motion animated video installations and initiates and participates in community projects. Her animations often explore natural phenomena; space, light, texture and movement are the main events.
She also makes short films, and has directed music videos for bands including Laura Veirs, Lusine, Andrew Bird, and Minus the Bear. Her projects and collaborations with musicians (Mirah and Spectratone Int’l, Robin Holcomb, etc.) have shown in venues including Greg Kucera Gallery, the Lawrimore Project, Gallery4Culture, Bumbershoot, the Henry Art Gallery, and Giant Magnet; the RedCat festival, the PICA’s TBA festival, the Walker Art Center, MassMoCA, the Kennedy Center, and the Boston MFA.
She is the founder and a co-curator of The High Wall.
BRENT WATANABE is an artist combining a background in traditional materials and practices (drawing, sculpture) with emerging technologies (computer programming, electronics), exploring an artistic field still being defined and discovered.
Since 2006, he has been creating computer controlled installations and experiments driven by an obsession with systems that regulate themselves. They are slapstick tragicomedies that have featured an animatronic crow streaming itself live on YouTube, a pneumatic cat attacking holographic rodents, and an open world video game played on acrylic paintings (and the surrounding wall and floor).
One of his recent projects, San Andreas Deer Cam (2016), was presented live on the Internet, had over 800,000 visitors in the first three months, and was written about in dozens of publications, including New York Magazine, the BBC, and WIRED.
Watanabe is a three time MacDowell Colony fellow (2011, 2013, 2016), and among his awards and residencies has received an Artist Fellowship from Artist Trust Foundation (2011), the Catherine Boettcher fellowship from MacDowell Colony (2012), and a“Visions of the U.S.”award from American Film Institute (1997).
He has participated in numerous group shows and screenings nationally and internationally, most recently at NEoN Digital Arts Festival (Dundee, Scotland, 2016), and NTT InterCommunication Center (Tokyo, Japan, 2018-19) . He has had solo exhibitions at Jack Straw New Media Gallery (Seattle, WA, 2009), Gallery 4Culture (Seattle, WA, 2011), Anchor Art Space (Anacortes, WA, 2013), and Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival (Seattle, 2016).
C. DAVIDA INGRAM is an award-winning artist and civic leader based in Seattle, Washington. Her artwork, curatorial projects, and writing discuss race and gender via lens-based media, social practice, performance art, lyrical essay and installation art. Ingram has exhibited at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Northwest African American Museum, Bridge Productions, Intiman Theater, and Town Hall in Seattle, Evergreen College and more. Her writing has appeared in Praxis Center for Social Justice, Arcade, Ms. Magazine blog, The James Franco Review, and The Stranger. In 2014, Ingram received the 2014 Stranger Genius Award in Visual Arts. In 2016, she became a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow and was one of the finalists for the Neddy award in Visual Arts. In 2018, she was awarded the Jacob Lawrence Legacy Residency at the University of Washington. Seattle Magazine has voted Ingram both one of the 20 most talented people in Seattle (2016) and one of Seattle’s most influential people (2017). Her art is part of the collections of the City of Seattle, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum and several private collectors
CLYDE PETERSEN is a transgender Northwest artist, working in film, animation, music, installation and fabulous spectacle. He is the director of Torrey Pines, an autobiographical stop-motion animated feature film about schizophrenia and transgender identity. Clyde established and runs The Fellow Ship Artist Residency on Guemes Island and is currently working on two new feature films He has been the recipient of the Artist Innovators Award, The Neddy at Cornish, The Stranger Genius Award, Amazon Artist Residency, the NEFA Touring Artists Grant, and various project grants from 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts &Culture and Artist Trust throughout the years. His work has been featured around the world in museums, galleries and DIY venues.
COLEY MIXAN is a trans musician, public library educator, pastry/prairie enthusiast and performance artist.
D.K. PAN is an artist investigating the intersection of place and memory – exploring the interstices and histories of site; the personal and collective body.
INYE WOKOMA is a visual artist, journalist and filmmaker. He received his B.A. degree in journalism and filmmaking from Clark Atlanta University. He is the recipient of two photojournalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a 2004 National Council on Crime and Delinquency PASS Award for criminal justice reportage, a 2012 Telly Award for his film ‘Lost and (Puget) Sound’, a 2019 Americans For The Arts Public Art Year In Review Award as a part of the groups show ‘Borderlands’ and a 2019 Neddy Award Winner in the Open Medium category. His work explores themes of identity, community, history, land, politics and power through the lens of personal and visual narratives. A commitment to social practice prioritizes the utility of his art to the collective welfare of his community. Four of his most recent projects, A Central Vision, An Elegant Utility, This Is Who We Are, and Wa Na Wari represent a prismatic exploration of the history, current experience and future of Seattle’s African American Community in the Central District. Inye’s family has lived in the Central District since the 1940s.
SATPREET KAHLON is a Punjabi-born artist, curator, and educator based in Seattle, WA. Through her work, which has been featured in Hyperallergic and Artforum, she is interested in creating visual language and immersive encounters that express and explore intersectional cultural experiences as well as the manufactured systems of inequity that dictate their boundaries.
In addition to her studio practice, which most recently includes a solo show at Brown University, a body of work shown at the Wing Luke Museum, and a large-scale public commission at the new Washington State Convention Center, Satpreet is a co-curator of yəhaw̓, as well as the managing editor of New Archives, a non-profit arts journal covering the Northwest Coast. She has also designed and taught youth programming all over the US, most notably running the Design Your Neighborhood program in partnership with the Seattle Art Museum and the Parks and Recreation Department between 2015 and 2017.
In 2019, Satpreet graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a full-fellowship to pursue her MFA in Sculpture, and was named one of 35 most influential people in Seattle by Seattle Magazine.
STEFAN GRUBER (born December 8, 1975) is an American experimental animator and performance artist from Seattle, Washington. They create hand-drawn, digitally finished experimental animation shorts and are Animation Department founder and teacher at The Nova Animation Project and the founder of Seattle Experimental Animation Team (SEAT)
SUSAN ROBB is an artist and creative consultant. Her work is an ongoing investigation of our emotional connection to place and takes its form as sculpture, photography, video, and the orchestration of temporary, site responsive, and socially engaged projects. She has exhibited work in museums and galleries worldwide and created public art for Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Parks, and Recology King County. Robb has received numerous awards and fellowships including a Creative Capital grant, a Pollock Krasner Fellowship, two Artist Trust Fellowships, and a Stranger Genius Award. In 2016 Robb worked with Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle Department of Transportation to write the Public Art Master Plan for Center City Seattle where she centered racial justice and equitable use of public space. In 2017 she was the Artist in Residence for the city of Tacoma, WA where she offered creative solutions around issues of homelessness and site activation. In 2019 she was a Creative Consultant for the City of Redmond, WA and Friends of Youth Foundation where she developed an arts and nature pilot program for teens experiencing homelessness that centered their personal stories as a means to create transformative, narrative-based video.
TRACY RECTOR has a passion for amplifying and empowering Indigenous and BIPOC voices. She brings forward three decades of experience as a community organizer, educator, filmmaker, film programmer, and arts curator, all infused with her deep roots in plant medicine. For the last 18 years she has directed and produced over 400 films including shorts, features, music videos, and virtual reality projects. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, ImagineNative, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, as well as at international film festivals including Cannes and Toronto. Tracy is the managing director of storytelling at Nia Tero, sits on the board of the Mize Foundation, is the co-founder of Longhouse Media and founder of Indigenous Showcase and is a mother of two sons – one a media activist and the other an emerging community farmer.
WEBSTER CROWELL is a muti-diciplinary Filmmaker, Animator and artist based in Seattle Washington. His films are tactile, utilizing found objects, clay, classic animation armatures, and interactive performers. His own films include the Web series ‘Rocketmen’ as well as short films, a feature film, and multiple collaborative projects including work with Dina Martina, Frye Art Museum, NW Film Forum, Artist Trust, Consolidated Works, and more. In addition, Webster has an extensive history working as an art fabricator and installation expert with contemporary artists, curators and art institutions. His awards include the Stranger Genius award for film, as well as support from Artist Trust, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4-Culture, NW Film Forum and the Washington Film Innovation Lab.
WYNNE GREENWOOD is a video artist and song-maker who also often brings those things together with objects, installation, and performance. Her practice grows from making dialogues with versions of self and the worlds those versions live in/are of. Her work has been included in exhibitions at a variety of spaces including the New Museum, NYC; the Cooley Gallery, Reed College, Portland; Fanta, Milan; Crush Repeat, Seattle; the Whitney Biennial, NYC; The Kitchen, NYC; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, LA; the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle; and Soloway, Brooklyn. Her work is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary.