Materials & Processes
Hand-Pressed Clay into Plaster Molds
Plaster Molds from Alginate Life Castings
Clay Fired to Cone 5 into Ceramic Stoneware
Unglazed, raw clay with hand finish textures
Birdhouse form is reminiscent of organic, rough forms such as eggs and seeds, both symbols of fertility, life and hope. Unglazed ceramic matches garden site, a simple material from the earth that humans are nourished from. Alginate life casting intimately engaged youth in workshops while picking up fine details to eyelash level. Cone 5 fire created stoneware grade ceramic, durable forever outdoors. Various colors of clay reflect many cultures and ethnicities of SE Seattle 98118 neighborhoods.
Steam bent Western Red Cedar 1”x2”
Stands are made from Western Red Cedar, an important ancestry and life tree for native peoples of this region. Burials would be held in some traditions by these tree roots, and ancestors were considered to then be “in the trees.” Curving form is reminiscent of pea and bean shoots, (some of the fastest growing vegetables) and shepherd canes. The curve communicates life and complements the garden site. Bent using hand steaming, where lignin (natural wood glue) is plasticized with heat, then bent, and then cools in new form.
Birds Nest in the Faces of Rainier Valley Youth:
Artist Creates Human Face Birdhouses with Youth after Fleeing 2 Shootings in South Seattle
George Lee ran from 2 shootings within 4 weeks and 4 blocks from his home last summer. He decided to create an art intervention with neighborhood youth mixing them up with nature and sculpture. City of Faces is a sculpture of 30 birdhouses with fronts the cast faces of local youth, where birds enter through their mouths. It is installed in Angel Morgan P-Patch in Seattle’s Brighton neighborhood from May 15 (Opening Party 3-6pm) to October 15, 2016.
Last summer, Lee ran when a young black man was shot in stomach 10 feet behind him at 6pm. Three weeks later 4 blocks away, he ditched his bike at 4pm and ran as two speeding cars fired over 30 shots at each other in front of a preschool, a public playground, a mosque, a church and Aki Kurose Middle School. Seattle Weekly reported that there were 65 more shots fired last year than the year before in Seattle and, “Even more specifically, many of the shootings occurred in places like Brighton and Dunlap, South Seattle neighborhoods that are too rarely mentioned anywhere else but the police blotter.” City of Faces is an art and nature intervention for youth living in these neighborhoods getting shot up.
Lee is a Seattle-based artist specializing in site-specific sculpture and social practice art. The project is funded by Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and partnered with Somali Family Safety Task Force, Rainier Beach Community Center, Aki Kurose Middle School and Rainier Avenue Church. Over 100 youth took part in workshops and learned about birds, habitat and facecast mold-making. Thirty-two brave youth had their faces cast, amidst their peer’s gasps of glee and disgust, and were compensated with $15 gift cards. The 30 seed-like ceramic birdhouses are hung from organically curving posts of red cedar, a wood associated with life and ancestry in local tribes. Each birdhouse matches specific bird habitat needs. The piece explores themes of refuge/home, fertility/life/youth, and interconnection between human and non-human life.
The piece opens with a party Friday May 15th from 3-6pm with food and light refreshments, and is up and free 24/7 until October. Raw materials from the creation process will be on one-time display during the opening, and participating youth and their families will be in attendance.
Instagram & Facebook #cityoffaces
High-resolution photos available upon request
Contact: George Lee