Cascadia Guerrilla Art School: Spatial Justice through Street Art Grant Application

The Department of Bioregion was excited to apply for the City of Seattle’s Spatial Justice through Street Art grant on November 8th.

Spatial Justice through Street Art is a Hope Corps, one-time request for proposals (RFP) as part of Mayor Harrell’s Many Hands Art Initiative that seeks to encourage youth voices in communities to explore and create street art. Through this opportunity, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) supports organizations or programs that reinvigorate and expand the definition of “arts and culture,” foster community among street artists, and create equitable, collaborative spaces to nurture emerging voices.  

The Cascadia Guerrilla Art School (CGAS) will pair 60 young artists with working street art mentors. Together, they will research, design and create projects over an eight week period for a designated neighborhood in the Seattle area to critically examine the issues facing our city and envision a more beautiful Seattle, with pieces that reflect our values and diverse communities.

CGAS will employ a democratic process of community engagement called Open Space Technology (OST), which lets participants self organize into workgroups based on mediums and issues they care about most. Groups will ideally be between four to eight artists, who will be paired with a working artist mentor. Each week will feature an educational and hands-on component around themes identified by participants as the most important, including presentations by working artists and time to meet with workgroups. Through discussions of racial, economic and social justice, participants will be invited to reflect on how they can act and create art that counters oppressive elements in their personal lives, and invites discussion on these topics through street art in our society at large. This will include learning about street art techniques, mediums and the importance of community art in Cascadia and around the world.

Workgroups will work with mentors to research issues that they want to represent, decide the 2-D medium they would like to work in, create a site-specific design, a personal statement and a project statement, and ultimately collect the pieces together into a portfolio of work. They will discuss what preservation methods work best for each type of project, and explore QR codes or other simple ways to share the purpose statement, bios, resources to understand the historical, social justice elements represented, and/or accessible ways people can get involved at the art sites. 

Street art mentors and workgroups will work directly with local community organizations, businesses and the city of Seattle to identify appropriate sites and provide hands-on experience for the creation of visual art in outdoor locations. CGAS will take place in April and May of 2023, with the actual execution of projects over a two week period in late July, when timing is best for students and the weather. “Graduation” at the last class will include a presentation of the artists’ work over the eight weeks and be open to family and community members. 

The budget also includes videography, photography and digital editing to create visual documentation of participants’ work to assist in development of artist portfolios, and for both educational and marketing purposes if so desired. Documentation includes “classroom” activities, the process of street art creation, and completed images, including a short mini-feature documentary, and could be hosted on vimeo and YouTube. This will be used to help us provide a detailed report upon completion of our programming, along with artist and project statements to create a print document describing the overall program effectiveness and benefit to the community. Personal evaluation will be given by participants, mentors, facilitators, volunteers and community members, which will also be combined with the overall effectiveness and end results of the Cascadia Guerrilla Art School.

Spatial Justice through Street Art is a Hope Corps one-time request for proposals (RFP) as part of Mayor Harrell’s Many Hands Art Initiative that seeks to encourage youth voices in communities to explore and create street art as we move from pandemic to endemic opportunities across the city.

The Department of Bioregion is an anti-racist, anti-colonial 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and social movement. Our programs, the Cascadia Underground (CU) and the Seattle Cascadia Arts Collective (SCAC) amplify marginalized voices, and use art as a tool for social change.

Community street art has played a critical role in our work from the beginning. Past activities include:

  • Being a 2016 McKay recipient from the Fremont Arts Council (FAC) for our Solstice Parade ensemble and float

  • Partnering with the Salish Sea Protectors in 2016 to send 30 tarpees, 80 activists and a bus of supplies to Standing Rock. 

  • Creating nine giant puppets for the Seattle Womxn’s March from Nov 2016 – Jan 2017. This process included an intersectional approach in which workgroups built puppets representing a person and issue they felt was important. Winona LaDuke, Aung San Suu Kyi, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Malala Yousafzai, Rigoberta Menchú, Dolores Huerta and Chelsea Manning were chosen. These were featured at the Armory in the Seattle Center, and we partnered with the FAC for long term maintenance and storage. 

  • A Guerrilla Arts School on Jan 19 2017, which brought together 200 people in Columbia City for a night of artmaking and resistance. Dozens of artists and groups hosted workshops, trainings, screenprinting and button making, culminating in the “Cascadia Times” street art project. 

  • Creating two 20ft murals featuring Sylvia Riviera and Marsha P. Johnson with a team of 30+ queer, trans, Latinx, Black and non-binary artists over two weeks for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in 2019. Also, partnering for a massive Cascadia display involving thousands of people at a Seattle Sounder match, who shared a similar message with millions of viewers.

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