Paradice Avenue Souf (PAS) (https://paradiceworldwide.com/) exists to preserve a sense of belonging and community for all within South Seattle. PAS is a burgeoning youth-centered Black and Brown artist collective, composed of individual artists, creatives and gig workers, all rooted in South Seattle. With lead artists Ari Glass, Harry Clean and Jordan Nicholson and arts manager Gavin Amos, PAS brings a national model of Black Creative Placemaking work to the local region, joined in Black and Brown solidarity reflective of the unique history of segregated Seattle with African American and Asian American communities, growing up together and in PAS’s case, creating art, holding space, and taking action alongside one another.
In late May 2020, Seattle like many cities throughout the nation and across the globe experienced an upswelling of protests and marches, led by Black community organizers, calling for racial justice after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black individuals at the hands of police and state-sanctioned violence. Compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many neighborhoods shuttered, businesses boarded up their windows and stores, guarding against rioters and looters, Paradice Avenue Souf quickly mobilized to protect its store and make a strong statement towards racial justice by creating a large 16’ x 8’ exterior mural. Anchored by a larger than life afro with hair pic transformed into an arm raised in solidarity, the mural speaks to the African roots across Asian cultures, shining a light on melanin in Africa and Asia and driving home the message of Black and Brown solidarity.
This mural and the story of its creation forms the foundation for the exhibition at the Wing Luke Museum. PAS will create new work to expand on its themes, drawing on collections within the Wing Luke Museum. From hair pics that are the same in form and function in Africa and the Philippines to the origins and symbolism of lions whether in Asia, Africa or America, these transcendent images meld with the artists’ life experiences to bring cultures and communities together as one. Additional project components will enhance the experience – whether onsite or remote – and extend the reach and impact of the artists’ work and message. They include: augmented reality digital exhibition, which will push the realm of place and space from the Chinatown-International District to Rainier Valley, from Africa to Asia and beyond; video short documenting the story of Paradice Avenue Souf, including both its experience during this historic moment in time as well as its long-standing collective work together; public programming engaging participants in firsthand stories and creating a platform for dialogue and exchange, with the firm belief that change in individuals and motivation and inspiration for action occurs through immersive experience and personal interaction; and creation of merchandise to accompany the project. This multilayered pilot project will form the basis for PAS’s business and marketing planning, which will elevate PAS to the next level of existence and sustainability.