The rain is heavy, the sky is grey, the people are crabby but the art is smoking! I love what is happening here in Seattle, yeah that's right—Seattle. We are quickly becoming a reemerging hot bed of funky cutting edge art and media.
Have you ever experienced that feeling of walking into a room full of vitality and energy? Not the overt in your face cheerleader type but the intrigue of the riveting Betty Page lookin' indigenous woman, or edgy glasses wearing Native hipster who has something to convey that could just rock your world! This is what's brewing in Seatown. Not only are the adult media makers cranking that Native soul but the youth are making some waves of their own. That's right, they have some powerful ideas to express and they are doing it real time.
We all know high school can be a double-edged sword. It's that time in your life when there seem to be endless possibilities while at the same moment despair and doubt can creep into every thought. Well, two students from our Native Lens program, Travis and Cody, found a way to channel this complexity and share some of the daily pressures that can face a 15-year-old, meet the needs of their big health class project and get a movie made about underage drinking and peer pressure. The video rocked their grade, they got an "A" and they were given more positive feedback from their teachers than they have ever experienced in a school setting. Through shear charisma the boys created a pivotal piece of work that cannot be summed up as a classroom project but as a force of artistic history.
Well that was over a year ago and that health class project has taken on a life of its own. "Fifteen" has inspired conversation, debate, tears, excitement and confusion, all the signs of vital art. Our neighbors to north have embraced the sheer brilliance of this work and have found a number of platforms to screen the piece. Recently, a real honor was bestowed upon the boys' work as they received an honorary mention for "Fifteen" at the ImagineNative Film Festival in Toronto. This was such a surprise yet an affirmation for media that matters. For me "Fifteen" is a breathtaking short that makes no excuses for being real and honest. Just like the Betty Page girl or Native illustrator boy with the funky glasses, they are exactly who they want to be and draw people to them that welcome this authenticity.
Seattle is not necessarily in my experience the most warm or friendly city to be in but there are those periods in the history of the city that are golden. The kind that a generation of people never forget because it is when the art strikes a chord, it is exciting, honest and alive (the cabaret scene of the early 90's), when a new kind of music is born (Nirvana at the Off Ramp), and when the loft parties are gathering places for this collective force to spin some magic (Maktub and Super Sonic Soul Pimps) the masses are moved to create and open up to their own transformative possibilities (Bernie Whitebear, Red Earth). Yes, everyone, we are riding one of those waves again and our youth, Native, indigenous proud young people are paving the way for a new period of artistic, social justice, media driven excellence that will define another era!.