Local artist Aisha Harrison is creating a community art piece for a new installation on the UWT campus.
UWT has commissioned local artist, Aisha Harrison, to design a new art installation on campus. The Tacoma Seeds Project has begun its design phase and is currently in process across Tacoma.
“Aisha’s work is centered on elevating traditionally marginalized stories, so her work speaks deeply to the values of our campus. And in an effort to ensure the work reflects who we are; she has engaged and has listened to our students, and to the broader Tacoma community, as she conceptualized the art installation that will be on our campus in the near future,” said Dr. Sonia De La Cruz, SIAS Assistant Professor in Communication & Media Practice at UWT.
Initially, UWT requested a piece that represents the idea of community, both on campus and the greater Tacoma area. The theme for the project is designed around the concept of a table. Harrison explained the table is important to the project because, in so many ways, it embodies what it means to be community.
Playing on the euphemism of “come to the table,” which refers to coming together to create ideas, a plan, or devise a resolution to an issue, the project consists of a large, round-shaped table where the surface will have bowls carved out. The bowls will house “seeds” that represent the local community. Each seed is made by individual community members of UWT and the greater Tacoma area.
Harrison has hosted several Seed Making Sessions with diverse campus and community groups, such as the UWT Arts Department, UWT BSU, Tacoma Community College and Evergreen Tacoma. Each session is an opportunity for the community to create their own seeds to place inside the table.
These seeds will be sculptural representations of the maker’s dreams, futures, aspirations and goals. Harrison said there have been many seeds that use the theme of hearts, transformation and several designs that involve the concept of hands.
“(The hands) mean different things to different people. One hand shows a lot of calluses and that’s because he wanted to talk about labor. Another hand talks about giving. The hand is symbolic of a lot of things, which is cool because for one person it can represent labor and work, for another person it represents calming and harmony. I think those two things are related. The hand has all of those things in it already… The seeds will be understood by each person with their own interpretation. These objects have meaning and energy, so they will put forward whatever needs to be put forward, for whoever is looking at it,” Harrison said.
In the seed making sessions, participants are given a small ball of clay to sculpt their seed. It is then carefully molded, hollowed out, meticulously put back together and fired. Harrison has kept notes on the artist of each seed and the meaning behind it.
In the completed design, the seeds will be held inside the table’s bowls to represent the way the concept of community comes together as many, to create a whole. After the installation has been unveiled, the seeds will be returned to the artists and the table will remain on the UWT campus for the community to use and enjoy.
“I just feel a lot of honor to be doing this work. Not only to be chosen, but to get the opportunity to work with the community. (Makers) are offering these really big hopes and dreams and things they’re doing right now, and I get to be a witness and tend to them by the process of the hollowing and the firing and the making of the table and how they’re all going to fit together. I just feel so lucky,” Harrison said.
If you would like to participate in a seed making session, visit www.AishaHarrison.com to see upcoming dates and sessions.
If you have a group of ten or more people and would like to host a seed making session, email Harrison at email@example.com
Session hosts provide space, tables and access to water. Other supplies will be provided. Sessions must be centralized around Tacoma community members, though extended family is welcome to join.