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May 12, 2015

36 views of Mt. Rainier

36 views of Mt. Rainier

As gentrification and skyrocketing rents change the landscape of my hometown, I am faced with many emotions. I feel overwhelming nostalgia, sometimes anger and frustration, hopelessness, and emptiness.  It feels like my home is disappearing from right beneath my feet. I feel righteousness to my place here, and I declare my authenticity: My parents, brother, and I were all born in the same hospital on Capitol Hill. My grandparents and great-grandparents also lived in Seattle. I’ll see your fifteen years here, and raise you four generations and more than one hundred years.

At the same time, I talk myself through these changes. I remind myself that although I feel deeply rooted here, the Seattle I know is only 28 years old. The city has gone through many transformations, and I can only imagine how it must have look two hundred years ago under the guardianship of the Duwamish people. This series is my take on Hokusai's 36-views of Mt. Fuji.  I use Mt. Rainier as a constant of this area, a metaphor for immortality. The images I overlay are places around the city that are a part of my own psychogeography, places that have become ingrained in my mind from years and decades of repeatedly walking past them.  I also use source images of these places from before my time, such as a photo of University of Washington from the years my grandmother attended, found in my great-uncle’s photo album.

I have lots of strong opinions about the gentrification and displacement of the people and businesses in my area, particularly the Central District, Chinatown-ID, and Capitol Hill. I have had my share of rants, but there is nothing productive about finger pointing and self-pity. I haven’t really figured out what I can do that would have an impact, or if these gentrifying forces are even possible to stop. For now, I will continue to lament the loss of my idea of home while I try to also recognize that this place doesn't belong to me.  

///p.s. What else? This series is painted on recycled cardboard, cereal boxes actually. I chose this to tie in the emphemeral, so that Mt. Rainier represents immortality while painted on a temporary material. Furthermore, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is a well-practiced ritual in the Pacific Northwest, one that I can't help but follow.