Reflecting on the Submerged: Tavares Strachan’s New Show at the Frye


Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times


If you’ve been wondering where everyone keeps taking these bomb Instagram stories with the “I Belong Here” neon reflected in a dark pool, it’s at Tavares Strachan’s new show Always, Sometimes, Never at the Frye! Here’s why you should check it out too:

Strachan is a New-York based artist that was born in Nassau, Bahamas. He is trained in glass and sculpture and is interested in the nature of invisibility. He uses his work to draw attention to “conditions that frame and legitimize certain cultural knowledge and history while obscuring and erasing others” (the Frye). Fostering connections and community between people through elevating areas of stories that have been neglected or unseen by the wider culture is his main goal.

As you enter the show, one of the first things you see are paintings along the south wall, each one containing a letter of the alphabet. He calls this A Children’s History of Invisibility: A-Z Index, with each piece examining a different overlooked idea or figure. Following each figure throughout the exhibit, there are no explanations. There are no gallery tags. The viewer is encouraged to discern meaning for themselves. I have been to the show three times and I’m still noticing something new in each one.

Photo by Anni Christensen

This specific show was tailor made for the Frye and this is its first exhibition. Strachan visited Seattle in preparation for the show and was inspired by the prominence of water in our culture. We are situated within water (via the constant rain) and along water (with the sound and many lakes surrounding us). This is by far the darkest art show I have ever attended, not in terms of content, but literally all the rooms are almost pitch black. This is purposeful; in dark times, he is bringing submerged histories to the surface, allowing viewers to reflect on these ideas which bring us light.

I initially thought it was kind of ridiculous when the museum docent warned me and the other visitors to be extremely careful in the galleries because the pools are very large, and it can be difficult to see where their boundaries are. Funnily enough, my grandpa fell into the Seated Panchan Lama pool and they had to close the room for the rest of the day. I can’t take him anywhere! Make sure to the mind the edges when you check it out!

Photo courtesy of The Frye

The Us, We, Them Venn-diagram pushes viewers to consider inclusive language. While Us is clearly illuminated, We is dimly lit, and Them is barely visible. While light is associated with life, brightness, knowledge, darkness is almost never positive. Otherness and divisiveness are rampant in current media coverage of international policy as well as in history and Strachan visually fights against it.

In contrast, his I Belong Here piece is by far the brightest in the show. Different fragments of light surround these powerful words, almost evocative of the islands in which the artist was born.

Photo courtesy of The Frye


You should absolutely check out this wonderfully reflective (get it?) show before it closes on April 15th. The Frye is always free with no admission fee and has a neat little café too! You can check out more of Strachan’s work here as well.


ANNI CHRISTENSEN | Team Edward Always | KXSU Arts Reporter

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