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Through the course of the pandemic, many small businesses across Seattle went under, and the city’s normally bustling downtown buildings emptied of workers. Yet as we emerge from the crisis, this ‘great vacancy’ offers an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve lost and how we might re-imagine and “re-fill” our city. Our installation encourages visitors to participate in this creative re-imagining.
A panoramic, wrap-around collage of Seattle neighborhoods is presented as a line drawing, stripped of color and content. Participants are encouraged to draw, color and write anywhere and everywhere, filling in blank store signs, populating buildings with new residents, and adding new public spaces and amenities, describing what they feel the city needs. The outside of our installation will include supplementary information on the small businesses that were lost due to COVID-19, as well as related topics like Indigenous land ownership, redlining, and gentrification. Visitors can enjoy the playful interactive but also consider how their ideas might address larger socio-political issues that existed long before the pandemic took hold.