George Lee and 20-25 East African women artisans from the Somali Family Safety Task Force (SFSTF) will create a temporary sculpture installation for the historically under-served residents of SE Seattle to experience, and take part in, for 9 months along the publicly accessible Chief Sealth Trail. 


JULY 15 1-3PM

Food from a local Somali restaurant, coffee, kids banner making, and the hanging of the first banners!

Everyone invited, just downhill from NewHolly Community Center on Chief Sealth Trail

Thank you to these adventurous partners!

Thank you to these adventurous partners!


The Clothesline: A Temporary Sculpture Expanded Biweekly by East African Seamstresses in New Holly/Othello


The Clothesline project seeks to create a temporary sculpture of six, 15' high poles, artfully placed in site and strung between with a clothesline filled with textile art created by East African women in the sewing courses run since 2014 by the Somali Family Safety Task Force (SFSTF). 

The installation, located on the Chief Sealth Trail by New Holly, will play off specific topographic features, play with the angle and material of the support poles, and frame views amidst the rolling hills and views of Mt. Rainier and the neighborhood. Textile pieces will be incrementally added, biweekly, to the clothesline over 9 months, giving the piece a rich dimension of time, growth and direct evidence of the positive work of local woman artisans.

The Clothesline plays off the fact that the Chief Sealth Trail can be imagined as the backyard, or alley, for the collective household of the Othello/New Holly/South Beacon/Brighton neighborhoods. We, the residents, can go there to dry out our minds and soak up the sun, views and openness. Also, clotheslines are a multifaceted paradox: They are on full public display, but a very private expression; and practical but illegal in many communities because of classism. These concepts are relevant to our amazing multicultural, middle and working class neighborhoods.

I will lead the project as Sculptor and Public Artist, and Farhiya Mohamed, Executive Director of SFSTF will be assistant lead in charge of collaboration with her sewing group. Farhiya and I currently enjoy our collaboration on a COS funded sculpture casting youth faces into birdhouses.

It was serendipity that brings this proposal to you. Since moving to the neighborhood, I was immediately inspired by the vibrancy of the bright textiles women wear here in contrast to the car-heavy everyday urban fabric along MLK and Rainier. As a site-specific sculpture and social practice artist, I greatly wanted celebrate and/or engage this living textile tradition, but as a newcomer, Caucasian male I was at a loss how to proceed. Then I met Farhiya for the City of Faces project, and the rest is history. We are excited to apply and make this art project happen to provide cultural services on many levels for the amazing, although historically under-served, women and neighbors along the trail.


George Lee and 20-25 East African women artisans from the Somali Family Safety Task Force (SFSTF) will create a temporary sculpture installation for the historically under-served residents of SE Seattle to experience, and take part in, for 9 months along the publicly accessible Chief Sealth Trail. 

The immediate benefit will be providing 20-25 women in the SFSTS sewing course a weekly opportunity to built their cultural textile art skills while participating over 9 months in the creation of a temporary sculpture. This project will assist in helping them learn their culture's textile arts, learn vocational skills for creating cultural textile products to sell (such as bags, clothing and baskets), and participate in the creation of a large temporary sculpture in their neighborhood to solidify a sense of cultural pride. Furthermore, two sewing instructors of SFSTF will be compensated for their work and be given funds to purchase fabric and sewing supplies; Thus directly supporting textile arts and the teaching of textile arts in the neighborhood. If there is an opportunity to ultimately sell the textile pieces afterwards, at least 50% of the profits will go back to the SFSTS to continue teaching textile arts in the community. And lastly, a video, website and photo book documenting the project will be created for SFSTF, Othello Station Community Action Team (OSCAT) and New Holly Youth and Family Center (NHYFC) upon completion of piece. 

Additional immediate benefits include: For 9 months, the communities of New Holly, South Beacon Hill, Othello and Brighton, all historically under-served communities of Seattle, will have one of their daily routes for physical activity, the Chief Sealth Trail, enhanced with a relevant, site-specific and locally created sculpture that will grow and change with time according to the work of their neighbors. This will enrich the daily, everyday cultural lives of hundreds of people a week who walk along the trail near the NHYFC. People from other neighborhoods can easily come visit the piece via light rail, and the installation can be marketed to increase attendance to local cultural events such as the Othello Park International Music & Art Festival. Over 15,000 people will likely walk through the installation along the trail over 9 months. Lastly regarding greater King County, the Somali textile markets at Bakara Mall in Little Mogadishu, SeaTac, will be the primary supplier of textile supplies, directly investing dollars in unique cultural markets of King County.

The project's long-term benefit will impact the neighborhood's cultural self-efficacy and pride in their cultural traditions, especially regarding the use of public space for cultural works and activities. As the Othello neighborhood quickly develops with several large developments, many residents and neighborhood groups are concerned about keeping cultural traditions vibrant and not marginalized. One community group, the Othello Station Community Action Team (OSCAT) has given written support for this project. Furthermore, Children and men will see the textile art of the women in their lives blowing in the wind, and this will help create a sense of cultural belonging, female empowerment and overall community value in their unique cultural traditions. Lastly, the project will break ground for further cultural installations in the neighborhood, building networks of supportive staff from various administrative agencies and funding sources.