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The establishment embraces this Tacoma artist; he doesn’t hug back

Christopher Paul Jordan poses for a portrait in front of a wall of spray paint cans on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at his studio in Tacoma.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
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Christopher Paul Jordan poses for a portrait in front of a wall of spray paint cans on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at his studio in Tacoma.

2017 was a banner year for artist Christopher Paul Jordan.

It started with Jordan curating an exhibition of work by African American artists titled "Colored 2017." Mid-summer, Jordan’s temporary installation "Latent Home Zero" was on display at Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. The  year ended with him winning the prestigious Neddy Award for painting, along with a $25,000 prize.

Acclaim from the white establishment doesn’t mean much to Jordan. He’s more interested in forging ties between black artists and the black community at large, without mediation from white curators or gallerists.

To that end, Jordan recently launched a project called “Mission Black Satellite.”

“The whole idea is using public art and social media to connect the black diaspora,” he says. “I see my work as supporting communities of color that have been disconnected —  to have opportunities to engage, collaborate and share.”

For Jordan, art is a form of healing and connection —  to community and to himself. As a young teenager in Tacoma he created digital art. By high school, he was spray painting graffiti.

Jordan and his longtime friend and artistic collaborator Kenji Stoll now work with youth at Tacoma’s urban arts workshop FAB-5.  

“Where I thrive is working in collaboration with folks,” Jordan says. “There’s no other way for me to exist creatively.”

*****

The 2017 Neddy Awards exhibition opens January 27th in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. 

Chris Jordan’s work is also part of a group show at Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery, opening January 24th