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Explore Seattle through Honors Cultural Outings!!!

Nov 8, 2017

Going abroad isn't the only way to explore new cultures. The University of Washington is rooted in the fastest-growing city in America, increasing its population last year by 3.1% with no signs of slowing. Students who spend all of their time on campus are missing out on Seattle's richest offerings.

Sometimes it's hard to know where to start. And so, with the help of students, alumni, and partners across the city, Honors Program Associate Director Julie Villegas began producing a series of opportunities for students to actively engage in more of Seattle's creative conversations. Last year's series brought students to MadArt gallery, two local theaters, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and civic mixers with prominent speakers across multiple industries.

Our most recent Honors cultural outing combined lunch in the I.D. with an exclusive tour of the BorderLands exhibit at King Street Station. The exhibit presented interactive, immersive installations featuring the collaborative work of numerous artists, and also included a series of public events. Kristen Ramirez and Deborah Paine from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture walked Honors students through the space, related stories about the artists, and lent context to their collected works.


Students in front of art installation using American flags, video, and red sequin burka
Ramirez gives students background on "The Red Chador" by Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano.

On our tour, students rubbed the wall of Ryan Federsen's installation: Kill the Indian, Save the Man, touching black rectangles linked to different geographic locations on the U.S. map. When we rubbed the black ink, our body heat caused it to fade, thereby revealing the names of boarding schools used to "assimilate" Native American children and erase tribal cultures. The names faded back into obscurity again as soon as the viewer stepped away. Like Federson's installation, most works in the exhibit offered opportunities for physical interaction and addressed themes of erasure, selective identity, and other tensions between public and private selves.

"Our trip to the BorderLands exhibit was incredible," said Honors senior Aubry Matter. "As a STEM major, I've never done anything like that before. I mean, I've seen art but I've never been to something like that — political and immersive — I'm still thinking about it nearly two weeks later." Another student remarked how good it felt to see her Filipino heritage reflected in some of the works featured in the exhibit.

Our tour of BorderLands was followed by a visit to campus by Randy Engstrom, Director of the Office of Arts and Culture. Engstrom visited with 225 first-year Honors students in early November while preparing to speak at our Global Challenges event on civic discord. Encouraging students to include the arts in thier studies and incorporate artistic practice into their lives, Engstrom noted: "We need more citizens who will think analytically without losing sight of their shared humanity"

In early October, a different group of students took in a new interpretation of Pride & Prejudice at the Seattle Repertory theatre. The production breathed fresh air into a classic — described by The Stranger as "both utterly silly and unexpectedly profound." Ticket prices were significantly lowered to $5, subsidized with gifts by Friends of Honors, encouraging students to take a risk on something they may have felt they couldn't afford.

Upcoming this winter, Honors alumnus Evan Groover will invite students to join him at a local jazz show, and there will be more trips to exhibits, restaurants, shows, and events throughout the year. Stay tuned for those invitations, and let us know of any special happening in Seattle that you want to share with Honors!