Two artists from the Vivid Matter collective collaborate on the new mural in Flo Ware Park


by Mark Van Streefkerk

There is a new mural facing Flo Ware Park on South Jackson Street that will bring even more light to the area this summer. On the exterior wall of the Seattle Girls’ School is “Find Yourself Outside,” a mural depicting black people in a Pacific Northwest landscape swimming, paddleboarding, dancing, camping and exploring the urban outdoors. . At the center of the mural, emerging from a body of water, is a larger-than-life head made up of two faces glued together. The left side of the face is purple and lavender, made of repeated lines and eyes, a recurring archetype in the artist AfroSPKwork. The right side of the face is painted in purple, red, yellow and cold blue, framed by a halo of curly hair, painted by the artist Perri rhoden. The result is a celebration of black people in the open air and intriguing symbols that make the viewer take a closer look.

The two artists are part of the Living Matter Collective, a group of artists from BIPOC who painted the Black Lives Matter mural last summer at Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) and were selected through a partnership with Eddie Bauer and Urban works in February. The funding provided by Eddie Bauer is a physical manifestation of their statement of equity. The mural was loosely guided by the company’s #FindYourselfOutside campaign, designed to promote BIPOC’s visibility in the open air, but other than that AfroSPK and Rhoden were in creative control.

In one Instagram post Of the ‘Find Yourself Outside’ mural, he said: “It was an amazing collaborative work and an opportunity for me and the nugget to really come together and create something we never thought we would. it would exist. And to really help encourage our other siblings to really be outside and get into nature because it’s our space too.

Rhoden, whose Instagram account is @thecurlynugget, also spoke about what the theme of the fresco meant to her: “Despite the ongoing genocide of black Americans in this country, the gentrification and displacement of our communities and our families, the inequalities, the resulting micro-aggressions. of white supremacy, the ridiculous traumas we face, and all the systematic oppression that rages on us… we are ALWAYS fucking here!

“For me, going outside helps me breathe all this shit. So I breathe hope, peace, food, and then I find my joy again. Nature helps me find my center and it is also a place where I can be in community with those I love.

Rhoden is an abstract and mixed artist and muralist whose works are manifestations of black female energy. Paul Nunn, project manager at Urban Artworks, described the side of Rhoden’s fresco as a meditation on literally standing outside. Rhoden paints “a lot of characters that she can relate to – doing yoga, flying a kite with the resistance fist on it, or paddling,” he said.

Rhoden’s part of the work evokes a festive and relaxed atmosphere of a community gathering as people relax – or dance – on the water, all under the confident gaze of the central face.

AfroSPK’s side brings its own experience to life inside the work. The left side of the giant face is an iteration of an image commonly found in graffiti and paintings by AfroSPK. It is “the symbol of a person on the inside who helps create growth around them, which in turn helps create opportunities for communities to be successful,” says a statement on the. website.

A beam of light shines from the face to the lower left corner of the mural, illuminating a character with a backpack and spray paint can who is turned towards the viewer with a mischievous smile on his face, presumably on the verge of to mark a building. There are buildings and fences in AfroSPK’s art, and the characters inside are urban explorers. Just outside of town is a wooded area with a few people coming or going. AfroSPK also painted a building with a telescope looking at the face, implying a sense of surveillance. In addition to his work of art, design and curation, AfroSPK has also been involved in Seattle Art Vault, a non-profit organization that provides free art supplies to BIPOC artists.

Murals commissioned like “Find Yourself Outside” help Urban Artworks raise funds for their youth programs. Active since the mid-1990s, Urban Artworks offers programs where young people are paid either an hourly wage or a stipend for arts education or to tune into public art projects. This summer, Urban Artworks is offering five youth programs in the following areas: Georgetown’s Mini Mart City Park, Phinney Neighborhood Center in collaboration with Parkour Visions, Burien in collaboration with artist and writer Sasha LaPointe, a program to be determined at Shoreline, and a Seattle Seahawks wall base program.

Follow both AfroSPK and Rhodes on Instagram for updates on their work.

Mark Van Streefkerk is a South Seattle-based freelance journalist and writer living in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. He often writes on specialty coffee, LGBTQ + topics, and more. Visit his website at and follow him on Instagram at @markthewriter.

📸 Featured image: “Find Yourself Outside” is a new mural in front of Flo Ware Park, a collaboration between AfroSPK and Perri Rhoden, both members of the Vivid Matter Collective. (Photo: Eddie Bauer)

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