Overview of For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant (2020)
In accordance with WA State’s phased re-opening plan, I'm organizing appointments to view the installation in person, July 1 - August 29.
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Writer and friend Lauren Gallow and I discuss For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant, challenging a binary worldview, sources of inspiration, and more.
For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant was created as part of my artist residency at Seattle’s Inscape Arts & Cultural Center. This 16' x 20' x 11' multimedia installation presents a maze of U.S. flags (8’ x 5’ each) sewn from sheer fabric with projected video of fireworks and surround sound audio that flood the space. Viewers hear ambient noises of celebration that transition into sounds of mounting panic. The display of bursting colors coupled with the unsettling audio blurs the lines between beauty and terror. To have “seen the elephant” is an American idiom coined in the 19th century that means to gain experience of the world at a net loss. For Those Who Have Seen the Elephant re-presents this idiom to contemplate the connection between myth and reality and the cost/benefit of the “American experience.” This installation continues my interest in the gray areas between opposing ideas or conditions, creating work that challenges binaries and evokes conflicting emotions.
Located in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, The Inscape Art and Cultural Center was built in 1932 as a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Station and Assay Office, or the INS building. Often called “Seattle’s Ellis Island,” this beautiful, historic edifice has a bipolar legacy bearing the triumphs of those who became citizens and the tribulations of those who did not — the joys and the sorrows of seeking a place in this United States. Today, in addition to hosting an artist residency program, Inscape provides affordable spaces to artists, nonprofits, and small businesses, and is the largest arts enclave in Seattle.