By Jennifer Sunami
Art can work like a kind of magic trick—simply step into a gallery and see your perspective shift in an instant. What is truly amazing is how well the magic works regardless of age or background, if we are willing to let it. Entering an artistic space created by a person of another race can show the hard limits of our personal experiences. It may feel disorienting or even threatening. But when we open ourselves to someone else’s creative vision, we may be rewarded with a glimpse into another reality, another way of seeing the world. Art can help complicate our understanding of identity and race by showing us individual and specific points of view.
Even with rising rents and increasing gentrification, Seattle remains a creative city filled with galleries, cultural centers, and more. However, they need our support to thrive, so in that spirit, here is a small sampling of some of the local museums and art spaces where you can engage with work created by artists of diverse backgrounds:
NAAM has a small permanent display providing a brief dive into the history of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest. The rotating gallery installations alternate between historical exhibits and fine art, and showcase the diversity of Black lives and perspectives.
Daybreak Star features contemporary and traditional artwork by Native American artists from around the world, with both permanent and rotating installations. Located in Discovery Park, the beautiful building is itself a work of art and an important community space for urban Indians.
Located in the heart of the International District, the Wing Luke also combines historical displays with rotating contemporary art exhibits. Thought-provoking and informative, exhibits at the Wing Luke dismantle the myth of the Asian monolith piece by piece.
Named in honor of the renowned Black artist and UW professor, this small gallery regularly mounts interesting contemporary shows that feature diverse, fresh perspectives.
A brand new arts space in White Center, Nepantla is focused on providing a creative and vibrant space for Latinx artists. Named for a word meaning “torn between ways,” Neplanta showcases work from artist and gallery owner Jake Prendez and others.
6. The Alice
An artists’ collective located in Georgetown, The Alice centers artistic works that are grappling with political, social, and cultural issues. The Alice is a great place to discover creators who are seeking to use the power of art to further social justice causes.
4 Culture is the cultural funding agency for King County, and in addition to handing out grants, it also provides gallery space for local creators. Many of the exhibits here feature artists from underrepresented groups. The Pioneer Square Art Walk is a great time to stop past and see what they have on view.
Hopefully this list will inspire you and your family to get out and discover even more galleries around the city. If we listen to the stories that artists are telling through their work, we can gain insight into our history, society, culture, identity, and more. It’s a powerful yet simple way to expand our consciousness beyond our bubble and build a more empathetic world.