About the Project
Black Arts Legacies highlights the long-standing, vital and ongoing role of Black artists and arts organizations in Seattle.
The first seeds of this project were planted in late 2020, after COVID-19 had upended the local arts economy, and the Black Lives Matter protests had prompted cultural organizations throughout the Northwest to examine their approach to issues of race.
On behalf of the Seattle Arts Commission, arts advocates Vivian Phillips and Dr. Quinton Morris approached Crosscut with an idea: a project that would “present a holistic view of a Black art ecosystem that embraces and uplifts the resilient, visionary and incomparable brilliance of Black arts that exists in our region.”
The goal was to create a celebratory and educational tool that illuminates the history and ongoing legacy of significant Black artists who have contributed to the city’s vibrancy. Framed as a kind of digital yearbook, the concept was to illustrate Black artists as cultural bearers, cultural commentators and essential cultural contributors.
Crosscut, with its commitment to reporting on the local arts community while striving to create a more just, equitable and sustainable society, embraced the idea and got to work.
Black Arts Legacies is a growing archive of video profiles, written accounts, portrait photography and audio stories. The project recognizes an intergenerational group of local musicians, dancers, visual artists, poets, performers, curators and architects whose creative expressions document the complexity of being a Black artist in Seattle. Theirs are stories of being the first, of contending with discrimination and breaking down barriers, of long careers and careers cut short, and of building community through the arts. Their stories help make sense of who we are — as a city and as a region — through song, script, brush strokes, choreography, architecture and poetry.
You’ll get to know these artists through written profiles, portrait photography, video profiles (available online and broadcast on KCTS 9 every Thursday evening in June), and a podcast about the Black arts spaces that have fostered Black creativity in Seattle.
Black Arts Legacies is made possible by the work of Black storytellers. In Season 1, project editors Kemi Adeyemi and Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud researched and wrote the artist profiles that anchor this series. Mahmoud returned as a contributor for Season 2 and is joined by arts and culture writer Jas Keimig, who penned many of the new profiles. Tifa Tomb, a filmmaker and director, is the project’s video producer. Photographer Meron Menghistab created striking portraits that align the featured artists with the work they make. And Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers produced our podcast about Black arts spaces.
Jas Keimig, Writer (Season 2)
Jas Keimig is a writer and critic based in Seattle. They previously worked on staff at The Stranger, covering visual art, film, music and stickers. Their work has also appeared in South Seattle Emerald, i-D, Netflix, Feast Portland and The Ticket. They also co-write "Unstreamable" for Scarecrow Video, a column and screening series highlighting films you can’t find on streaming services. They won a game show once. Learn more about Jas.
Jasmine Mahmoud, Project Editor (Season 1), Contributor (Season 2)
Jasmine is assistant professor of theater history and performance studies at the University of Washington, where she holds an affiliate appointment in art history. She co-edited Makeshift Chicago Stages: A Century of Theater and Performance. Learn more about Jasmine.
Meron Menghistab, Photographer (Seasons 1-2)
Meron is a Seattle-based photographer who works primarily in portraiture and narrative-based photography that seeks to reveal the commonality between his subject and his viewers. A sense of community is an important aspect of his vision and is ever-present in his storytelling. Learn more about Meron.
Tifa Tomb, Video Producer (Seasons 1-2)
Tifa is a Seattle-area filmmaker who produces and edits feature-length and short narrative and nonfiction work. She also works as a media producer at the University of Washington and directed the short film Retch, which won Best Film at the 2020 Seattle Black Film Festival. Learn more about Tifa.
Avery Johnson, Director of Photography (Seasons 1-2)
Avery is a cinematographer and photographer based in Seattle and New York City. He's produced films for brands such as Nike, Depop and Kosas. He's also collaborated with poets for visual poems, and filmed for small businesses in Washington state. Learn more about Avery.
Vivian Phillips, Consulting Producer (Seasons 1-2)
Vivian Phillips is an arts and strategic communications professional. She is a former Seattle Arts Commission Chair, and also chaired the board of 4Culture. She is the founder and editor in chief of Arte Noir, and is leading the development of the Arte Noir arts and cultural space at Midtown Square. Learn more about Vivian.
Kemi Adeyemi, Project Editor (Season 1)
Kemi is associate professor of gender, women and sexuality studies at the University of Washington, where she founded and directs The Black Embodiments Studio, an arts writing incubator and public programming initiative that builds discourse around contemporary Black art. Learn more about Kemi.
Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers, Podcast Producer (Season 1)
Brooklyn is the creator, host, producer and researcher of the history podcast We the (Black) People and a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she studied history. She was an emerging journalist fellow at Crosscut, where she worked on podcasts, and currently works for KUOW. Learn more about Brooklyn.
Gabriella Segovia-Breaux, Video Series Editor (Season 1)
Gabriella is a film editor, cinematographer and musician currently based out of Los Angeles. Gabriella (also known as Euca) has been present in the creative community of Seattle for many years, supporting filmmakers, visual artists and nonprofit organizations. Learn more about Gabriella.
Meshell Sturgis, Research Assistant (Season 1)
Meshell is a scholar, critic and artist currently living south of Seattle. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in the department of communication at the University of Washington and a contributor to the journals A Year in Black Art, New Archives and Art Practical. Learn more about Meshell.
Crosscut Support Staff
Brangien Davis, Arts & Culture Editor/Project Manager
Chelsea Lee, Lead Website Developer
Gemma Wilson, Project Editor
Genna Martin, Associate Photo Editor
Grace Palmieri, Social Media Editor
Greg Cohen, Design Director
Brian Dehart, UX Designer (Season 2)
Jingting Liu, Website Developer
M. David Lee III, Executive Editor
Kyle Pace, Product Manager (Season 2)
Margo Vansynghel, Arts & Culture Reporter (Season 1)
Mark Baumgarten, Managing Editor
Martina Pansze, Newsletter Editor
Nimra Ahmad, Emerging Journalist Fellow (Season 2)
Sara Bernard, Podcast Editor
Sarah Hoffman, Video Producer (Season 1)
Sarah Menzies, Director of Videography
Shannen Ortale, Video Producer (Season 2)
Syd Gladu, Audience Engagement Producer (Season 2)