Bringing together themes of community and the power of solar energy, artist Julia Harrison, installed a new public artwork Connected Community at the Miller Community Center located on 19th Ave. E on Capitol Hill in mid-March 2022.
Seattle City Light and Seattle Parks and Recreation recently installed a rooftop solar array and a solar microgrid at Miller Community Center. The microgrid will provide backup power to this important community center during electrical outages.
Organized by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Julia Harrison’s work Connected Community is a joyful wall sculpture created out of bent, riveted, and painted steel that includes symbols and designs connecting two main inspirations – the patrons and activities of the Miller Community Center and the solar microgrid. The artwork combines and celebrates these two powerful, complementary, and renewable resources: solar energy and community.
“Artist Julia Harrison understands connecting community to art. Her approach to integrating the Miller Community Center neighborhood into her artwork and design signals the depth of her engagement. Art exposes us to new experiences that we carry out into the world – art impacts our world view and Connected Community directly forges relationships between communities, businesses, and organizations in Capitol Hill.”royal alley-barnes, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Acting Director
A close-up view of the work reveals familiar shapes, including a set of hands, a volleyball, a book – while other symbols and shapes relate to community-identified references, such as a marigold flower for the center’s important Day of the Dead celebration, a rainbow referencing the LGBQTA+ community, and a ribbon representing the annual holiday gift exchange that occurs onsite. In developing this artwork, the artist’s intent was to create a piece that Miller staff and visitors could find something to identify with and discover new elements each time they engage with the sculpture.
“This project celebrates the Miller Community Center’s array of community services, and perhaps in some way also strengthens that community by encouraging patrons to linger thoughtfully in the heart of the building. I hope that I’ve made a piece that Miller staff and patrons will enjoy visiting again and again, and that each and every visitor will find something to identify within the design.”Julia Harrison, Artist
Inspired and funded by the Seattle City Light % for Art Fund, Julia’s work also references the role of the solar microgrid. Throughout the day, sunlight from the windows above casts shadows that are continually in motion changing the artwork. The rainbow colors of the artwork are the prism spectrum of color, showcasing again the incredible power of light.
Julia Harrison recently relocated from Seattle to North Carolina, where she is a Resident Artist at the Penland School of Craft. Her focus as an artist and educator has long been on jewelry and sculpture, with an emphasis on low-tech carving processes. Julia is fascinated by the challenges and opportunities public projects represent; her new work in metal strapping explores influences, including Mexican filigree jewelry and antique cookie cutters on a magnified scale. Julia’s previous public sculpture can be seen at the Sacajawea Playfield in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood.