Artist as Storyteller

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Supported by the Seattle Colleges Performing Arts Fund, the Artist as Storyteller speakers series welcomes BIPOC artists, performers, and activists to share their work and connect with students about what it means to be an artist in today’s social and cultural climate. The series emphasizes the art-making and storytelling process as it relates to the individual and community.

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Artist as Storyteller Blog

POST 5: MON NOV 21 22

2023 Workshop & Community Meal Series: “Hand in Hand”

Linocut Print by Eileen Jimenez

We use our hands when we create art, build functional items, cook meals, and hold our loved ones close. Community artmaking is a way for us to tell our stories and connect; a manifestation of who we are, how we experience the world, and what we hope for the future. This year, Artist as Storyteller will explore how making things by hand is a world-building practice through which we make objects, community, and a sense of the world we live in.

Excited to finally be in person again, each of our events will not only feature in person talks by specific artists, but participants will also be invited to take part in hands-on workshops, where we’ll learn how to make everything from linocut prints and ceramics to playing Taiko drums.

As part of our focus on how handcrafted arts are vital for creating community, and to help us be expansive in terms of what we consider “art,” we’ve also asked our guest artists to select a food that resonates with their work. We’ll be learning about and sharing this food at our events as a way to celebrate how the making and sharing of food serves as a vital artistic practice that nourishes our bodies and spirits and brings us together.

Join us for our first event of 2023 on February 7 with Eileen Jimenez

POST 4: MON SEP 27 21

AY 2021-22: “Return”


See our upcoming events for Winter︎︎︎

The more people become vaccinated and lockdown restrictions are lifted, we find ourselves confronted with the impossible concept of “return.” Of going back to work. To school. To “normal.” But is it even possible to go back? And do we want to? Not only did the pandemic upend pre-Covid lifeways, but it also exposed the deep inequities and injustices of our systems in ways that make the idea of “returning to normal” feel more like a threat than an aspiration. As the public theologian Ekemini Uwan writes, “Striving to return to an old ‘normal’ would ensure that the mechanisms of oppression keep turning. We are not going back to normal; we are pushing toward a new normal—one that is more sustainable and equitable than the one we left behind, one in which everyone might flourish.”

Artists—particularly those whose experiences have been shaped by dispossession, displacement, and exile—have long created work meant to help us think through the concept and nature of “return” as an aspiration, a fool’s errand, and a threat. What is it that we want to return to and does it even exist? And if returning is, in fact, an impossibility or—worse—an existential threat, then what is it that we can strive toward? What might we actually want to recover from the past and what might we need to leave behind? How might we mourn the passing of old ways and imagine new ways of being in the world?

These are just some of the questions that will motivate the conversations that we’ll be having with our guest artists throughout the 2021-2022 academic year and our theme of “return.”

POST 3: THU FEB 18 21

Turn on WA Notify! 

On Tuesday, March 9, we’ll kick off the Artist as Storyteller series with Seattle-based drag performers, Butylene and One.

Until then, check out One’s cameo in the recent “Turn on WA Noftify!” PSA, created by performance artist and dancer Alyza DelPan-Monley, who enlisted the help of several Seattle-based LGBTQ+ and BIPOC performers. Their PSA is meant to encourage folx to enable their smartphones to use Washington Exposure Notificaiton (WA Notify), which helps prevent COVID-19 transmission by allowing folks to track whether they’ve been exposed through smartphone alerts. You can read more about the process of creating the PSA here.


Post 2: FRI FEB 19 21

Call to Artists: Social Justice Collage Workshop

Social Justice Collage Workshop

A four-week, virtual/online workshop in March & April 2021 with Kolaj Institute

Deadline to apply: 
March 13 2021

Collage artists with a passion for equal rights and equitable opportunities for all are invited to apply for Kolaj Institute’s Social Justice Collage Workshop, a four-week program designed to provide a foundation for the intersection of collage and social justice with the end result of creating a collage for an exhibition in May.

Early social justice advocates focused on issues such as the distribution of capital, property, and wealth because of the extreme disparity between the rich and the poor at the time. Since then, the term social justice has adapted to include the environment, race, gender, and other causes and manifestations of inequality with a focus on human rights and improving the lives of disadvantaged and marginalized groups.

The workshop is designed to explore the purpose, meaning, context, history and problems of social justice through collage making, discussion, examination of other artists’ work, and hearing from dynamic speakers who make and curate social justice collage. Participants will engage with each other via Slack and meet once a week on Zoom for four weeks. The workshop faculty is Elaine Tassy, Gerald Leavell, Rachel Monique Walker, and G.E. Vogt.

The workshop is intended for self-motivated artists, at any stage in their career, who want to develop a practice of making artwork in response to social injustice. The workshop focuses on creating collage that addresses modern issues and current political concerns. The workshop is open to artists anywhere in the world.

POST 1: SAT FEB 20 21

Adaptation, Resiliency, and Environmental Justice


A change in structure, function, or behavior by which a species or individual improves its chance of survival in a specific environment.
See: Radioactive Blueberries (Feral Atlas)


The ability to withstand hardship, adapt and growth through adversity, and emerge with greater strength than before the hardship.
See: Jellyfish polyps (Feral Atlas)

Environmental Justice

The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.
See: Got Green

Image: 'Acceleration', by Feifei Zhou with Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho. Courtesy Feral Atlas

Image: Invasion (detail), by Feifei Zhou with Nancy McDinny and Andy Everson. Courtesy Feral Atlas 

Our theme for winter/spring 2021 season, Adaptation, Resiliency, and Environmental Justice, emerged from the realization that the process of making art and the experience of being a student both come with great challenges and new possibilities in the Covid-19 era. We cannot safely gather in the community spaces of classrooms, theaters, or music venues. We have experienced and born witness to economic devastation, racial inequities, insecurity of healthcare systems, the violence of failing political systems, and a changing climate that has wrought havoc on our more-than-human world.   

However, art making, activism, and academic study persists and provides a refuge and space for reflection in this time of isolation. Artists, performers, and activists are on the cultural front lines of helping us understand the melding of the "before-time" of Covid with the possibilities of the future through new forms of digital and adaptive storytelling.

In bringing students and artists together in conversation we hope to create a new community formed with a foundation of resiliency and persistence shared by all.

We invite you to reflect on your own stories of adaptation, resiliency, and the struggle for environmental justice as you join in conversation with the artists of our 2021 winter/spring season.