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Welcome to Wa Na Wari!
Opening Friday April 5th
Wa Na Wari is a home for Black art, stories, and connection in Seattle’s Central District, a gentrified space and one of Seattle’s historically redlined neighborhoods. The project is a collaborative project between Inye Wokoma, Elisheba Johnson, Rachel Kessler, and Jill Freidberg. We have transformed a Black-owned rental home into an active Black art space and, in April of 2019, we launched a range of art and media activities and programs including:
There are no spaces in Seattle where Black people can share their stories, map their childhood, reunite with old friends, and make art, all while holding space in a neighborhood that has tried to push them out. Seattle’s Central Area has gone from 80% Black in the 1970s to 14% today. When Seattle’s “Black community” was centralized, spending time together was effortless. This created an environment where cultural, artistic, social, economic and political innovation could thrive. Community building was a necessity and thus a way of life. We are creating that experience again, on a smaller scale.
Two of us, Inye and Elisheba, are Black artists directly impacted by Seattle’s displacement and affordability crisis. Inye Wokoma’s grandmother is 93 years old and living with Alzheimers. As the guardian of her estate he has been fighting on her behalf to maintain ownership of the homes she and her husband work their entire lives for. Elisheba Johnson, born and raised in Seattle, has a well paid job with the City of Seattle and yet still cannot afford to live in the city. Their stories are reflective of what the housing crisis looks like for Black artists in Seattle. Two of us, Jill and Rachel, are white artists using art and stories to challenge white supremacy, especially as it is expressed through gentrification and displacement. There are links below where you can learn more about each of us.
Our choice to site Wa Na Wari in a home is intentional. Out of financial need, the home has typically been rented as close to market rate as possible. This has put the home out of range for most black tenants, and thus adding to the social and cultural trend of gentrification. Until Now. Wa Na Nari will support this community elder while keeping Black artists and storytellers in the neighborhood. Wa Na Wari is a Kalabari (Southern Nigeria) phrase meaning ‘Our Home’. The name evokes a sense of purpose and intention to remain present in a place we consider home. Inye is Kalabari through his father’s lineage.
We are extremely excited about launching a project that secures a space for Black creativity and innovation while helping a legacy African-American homeowner stay rooted in the neighborhood. We are also looking forward to seeing you in the space and at our events and programs.
VISIT OUR OFFICIAL WEBSITE AT
To join our mailing list and/or ask questions about our exhibiting artists, oral history sessions and programming send us an email at wana...@gmail.com.
Find us on:
Instagram: Wa Na Wari or WaNaWariSeattle / https://www.instagram.com/wanawariseattle/
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