We Are Here
John Muir Elementary 5th Grade Student Art Exhibition
In collaboration with Marita Dingus

Opening May 11th 6-9pm
On view until June 17th

The second installment of our 2019 Artist Series is a collaborative project, formed by our social practice as designers but seldom seen by the greater community.

For several years Prairie Underground has donated textile remnants, miscellaneous trims and industrial waste like paper tubes or pallet cartons to Public School Teachers as art supplies for their students. In the course of our career we’ve learned that our garments speak directly to arts educators and we feel fortunate to be in dialogue with them not only about our clothing but also our shared social missions.

When Julie Trout, Visual Arts Specialist at John Muir Elementary sent us photos of some of her students work using the byproducts of our manufacturing, it affected us tremendously. The act of aligning waste as a resource and transforming it through talent and imagination to speak directly to our human experience is its own work of art. The situational aesthetics of partnering with local designers to illuminate the art being made by 5th graders in Rainer Valley is engrossingly conceptual, political and deeply moving. Julie and Marita are creating art that moves us forward, while shaping the minds of the future. Their work suggests art making as a strategy for a sustainable future.

About the Collaboration:
For this collaboration, 5th grade students drew inspiration from both local sources and artists such as Jean Michel Basquiat and Yayoi Kusama. With some background of the harmful effects of fast fashion, students only worked with remnants and a variety of fabrics and textiles donated by Prairie Underground. Connecting with the shared dedication of equity and social justice, students used the textiles to respond to the work of Jean Michel Basquiat who used his art to address race and class in our society. The resulting work is how John Muir artists see themselves in this world. Amorphous shapes were inspired by Yayoi Kusama who imbued sculptural shapes with intricate pattern work in a time where female artists were not acknowledged or credited for their visionary work. Locally, the artist Marita Dingus worked with us to create a sculptural hand portraits focused on the idea of “self” being an individual in a system that is constantly trying to assimilate. The work of FEMAIL (Prairie Underground Artist Series, November 2017) also informed our projects with their beautiful, bold menagerie of movement and energy using recycled and repurposed textiles. For us, the thread both connects and isolates every shape the students include. This represents how the shapes and silhouettes both shine on their own merit and blend in as an integral part of the installation.
– Julie Trout

About John Muir Elementary:
John Muir Elementary, part of Seattle Public Schools, is a culturally rich school located in the Rainer Valley. As a Title 1 school with limited resources, visual arts and our creative expressions act as a connector to address the inequities to create social change – internally and externally.

‘’To me, arts education is the ultimate practice of freedom and resistance…The natural process of creating any sort of art is to lean into the struggle…In our systems of institutional racism to experience a feeling of liberation in the artistic process is an empowering precursor living a more liberated life…If I am asking my youth artists and community to take risks and trust themselves, it is crucial that I am consistently practicing the same vulnerability while staying grounded and consistent in my expectations and rituals.‘’
– Julie Trout in conversation at Seattle Arts Museum, The 5th annual Creative Advantage Arts Partners Summer Institute

About Prairie Underground
Our Artist Series launched in 2015 as a non-commercial gallery and social practice focused on emerging artists, mostly in our region, to create space for art and dialogue in Georgetown. At times we’ve endeavored to display the purpose of our gallery as much as the work itself. It’s a manner of working that is also evident in our design practice and proposals.

An exhibition of one our customers is both intentional and misleading. This sub-curatorial approach brings into relief a dual interest in confirming and resisting biography. The use of artist biography for marketing and sequestering of identity is the focus our 2019 Artist Series. These exhibitions will enact personal bias and perform identities. They have been conceived to indulge the ambition of artists and project the personal histories of others as a form of self-portraiture.

Prairie Underground is femme-focused design house creating ethical and sustainable apparel since 2004. Our clothing is inspired by handmade clothing and uniforms that offer utility to self-expression.

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