The lengthy light rail construction fencing along Pacific Highway South just got prettied up with temporary murals.
Sound Transit began to install 57 murals on Oct. 22 in Kent along the east side of the highway where the new Kent/Des Moines light rail station is under construction as part of the 7.8-mile extension of the line from SeaTac to Federal Way. Service is scheduled to begin in 2024, so the fence and murals will be up for more than three years on a stretch between Kent Des Moines Road and South 240th Street.
The agency hired local artists to conceive the murals in an effort to help minimize the visual impact of the construction site on neighborhoods as well as to add color to the streetscape and highlight the community, according to the Sound Transit website about its art program called STart.
The mostly hand-painted canvases are by Cecelia DeLeon, Jasmine Brown, Gabriel Marquez, Tiffanny Hammonds, Tommy Segundo, Toka Valu, Sabah Al Dhaher and Zanetka Gawronski.
A couple of the first murals installed were created by Segundo, who was born and raised in South Seattle and considers himself an urban native, according to his website crenativedesignz.com. He is part of the Haida tribe, indigenous people who have traditionally occupied the coastal bays and inlets of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. He spent 15 years working to help Native American youth around the state of Washington. In 2018, he decided to pursue art as a full-time profession. The Haida people are known as fierce warriors and master artists/craftsmen (women).
One of Segundo’s murals on display is “Pulling Together: Canoe Part 1 & 2.” The work displays a colorful red, white and black canoe with black and gold paddles on the water, which could be the Puget Sound just a short distance to the west. Another mural is “Stand in Solidarity,” with a fist in the center surrounded by red, gold and black.
In addition to the Kent display, about 50 murals were installed earlier this year along the Federal Way light rail station construction site on 21st Avenue South and South 320th Street.
Among the artists who have murals on display in Kent and Federal Way are:
• Jasmine Iona Brown: Brown is a Tacoma-based visual artist, exhibiting painter and designer. Her focus on community character lead her to a series of Northwest inspired images.
• Toka Valu: Valu is an artist, designer and co-founder of the youth advocacy group Our Future Matters. He lives in SeaTac. He collaborated with young people from the Pacific Islander community in a group process to create his murals.
• Sabah Al-Dhaher: Al-Dhaher is a classically trained sculptor and painter who teaches art at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. He incorporated contributions from children from around the world in his murals.
• Tiffanny Hammonds: Hammonds is a Tacoma-based muralist, artist and youth advocate based at Fab 5 Studios in Tacoma. Her murals feature numerous faces in a rainbow of colors, reflecting on the connections between color and emotion.