UW Tacoma Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts Beverly Naidus has been invited by the Washington State Labor Council to act as the main advisor in developing a mural to adorn the organization's new headquarters in Seattle on 16th and Jackson.
The community-based mural has been envisioned as a long-term collaborative effort between a team of three to four artists who will be led by Naidus. The project aims to explore historical and contemporary issues with regard to the Labor Movement and the effects of globalization. “We are planning to focus on the stories of African American and Asian American workers, since the mural will sit at the junction of the International District and the Central District,” Naidus says.
As the main advisor, Naidus will be providing the team of three artists with feedback, support and the insight of her experience on the mural design process. She will also be networking within the community to find additional collaborators. So far, the project has had several brainstorming sessions, which, in addition to the over two dozen interviews she has conducted, has provided Naidus with “some very interested partners for the project.”
Cleveland-based artist Katherine Chilcote will serve as lead artist, a role that, according to Naidus, will also have her “crunching the numbers,” as well as “pushing through budgets and timelines.” In addition to her artistic talents, Chilcote brings with her several years of experience as the director of Building Bridges, an organization that has developed several murals focused on reflecting the culture, history and vision of diverse communities in the Cleveland area.
Joining Chilcote are Devon Midori Hale, a UW BFA graduate with roots in Japanese and Chinese culture, and Forrest Khalil Perrine, a street artist from Los Angeles. Hale will be on board as a “fully engaged” artist, while Perrine has been assisting with the extensive research into Washington State labor history. According to Naidus, much of the research has included the use of photos from various archives to help inform their imagery.
The group recently had their first design approved by WSLC. The project is scheduled to commence in August, after Chilcote and Hale have completed the murals they are currently working on in Cleveland. The project is expected to take about a year to complete.
While the mural marks a high-profile collaboration between the UW Tacoma associate professor and the labor council, it is not the first time Naidus and the WSLC have worked together. After the organization learned about her Labor, Globalization and Art class three years ago, Naidus began showcasing her students’ work at the Council’s MayWorks exhibition. Between 2012-13, nearly 70 posters featuring the work of UW Tacoma students were put on display.
A UW Tacoma faculty member for the past 11 years, Naidus is an accomplished artist whose work has been shown at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, the Armand Hammer Museum at UCLA, and internationally in London and Germany. A vocal advocate for art detailing and promoting issues of social change, her UW Tacoma program is dedicated to transforming the way students approach art.
The program “[teaches] from content, rather than medium,” says Naidus. This methodology gives students the opportunity to learn new ways of approaching their work by thinking in terms of broader concepts and socially relevant themes, many of which overlap with the upcoming WSLC mural.
Naidus says, “[Students] have stories to tell about the topics of our classes (whether it's about cultural identity, ecology, war, body image or dreams). In the process of telling their stories, they learn new tools, like Photoshop or drawing or making an artist's book, and they develop design principles and visual grammar. They also learn critical thinking about the topic, such as the labor movement and the effect of globalization on their lives, and look at art, both historical and contemporary, that deals with those issues.”
Thinking ahead to the fall quarter Naidus would like to see UW Tacoma students play a part in the WSLC mural. “If there is a possibility in terms of timing, my students will come and visit the project, and take some role in relation to its creation.”
John Burkhardt, Media Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 253-692-4536.