An Elegant Utility explores the creation of place, identity and the Northwest African American community that has historically characterized Seattle’s Central District neighborhood. Featuring a collection of artifacts, including photographs, utilitarian house hold belongings, and legal ledgers, An Elegant Utility examines how the personal history of artist Inye Wokoma’s familial lineage, the Green family, serves as an entry point through which the larger story of African-Americans in Seattle, is reflected.
In this exhibition, Wokoma creates a kind of sanctum encompassing the lifelong possessions of his grandfather, which tell the rich, layered narrative of hope, struggle, loss and the strong-willed drive of a family to establish place and create personal and communal identity.
The exhibit’s artifacts include turn of the 20th century work tools, recreational items such as an old metal and canvas catcher’s mask, church fans and collected issues of Ebony, Jet and Time magazines from the 1960’s & 1970’s. Wokoma’s, An Elegant Utility urges viewers to recognize the relationship between racist housing policies, civic disinvestment in public services and infrastructure, and the seemingly irresistible momentum of the current displacement of Black people.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website