June 21 is the longest day and the shortest night of the year, marking midsummer and the summer solstice of the northern hemisphere. The tilt of the world on its axis and its position of movement around the sun work in conjunction as yet another heads-up that summer is near. The sun will be at its height in the sky during the day, and will sit above the horizon line longer than any other day of the year.
This year the city will use the extra sunlight to celebrate the astronomical occurrence with art and live music, as well as food and drink. On June 21, the Tacoma Art Museum will be having its free 2018 Summer SOULstice event hosted by Kellie Richardson. “SOULstice will hold space to celebrate this annual miracle by featuring emerging and established artists from marginalized communities,” explains Richardson. The event will be an opportunity for local artists and “artivists” such as Thy Nguyen, one of the three featured artists who will share their work at SOULstice. Nguyen is a poet, vocalist and former (2015-17) poet laureate of Tacoma. A first-generation Vietnamese immigrant, Nguyen expresses her experience through her poetry and spoken word art. Olivia Thomas, vocalist as well as visual artist, and Annie Jones-Barnes, bassist with local funk/soul band Hybrid, will also be featured in the event.
Richardson is the city’s current (2017-19) poet laureate. As such, she has been sharing her work with the community through readings, facilitating workshops and teaching courses around Tacoma. Her own work has a focus in themes of identity, love and being human. Upon obtaining her position as laureate she made it her objective to “ensure literary arts are both accessible to, and representative of, the diversity in Tacoma.” This is a mission she continues to pursue, as is apparent through the themes of SOULstice. “The work featured,” said Richardson, “will carry themes of awakening and healing, personal connection to Earth and spirit, as well as the thread of human experience that connects us all. The weight of historical oppression, generational trauma has never diminished the indelible joy, creativity, innovation and pride of those on the margins. SOULstice underscores this victory.”
Approximately 20 unique artists will have their work displayed in the museum’s exhibit, including Richardson. The diversity of the artists, some renowned in the community, some emerging, and their contrast of style and media of work speaks to the themes of the event. Other attractions will be the artist market – where some pieces will be available for purchase – and the creation of a live painting by local artist Tiffany Hammond.
The Summer SOULstice falls on one of the museum’s monthly free Thursdays. These land on the third Thursday of each month when the venue is open to the public for creative and art-driven community gatherings from 5-8 p.m. Also at the museum on June 21 from 6-8 p.m., F.O.A.M. (Free night of Open Mic, Art and Movies) will be holding a free printmaking activity for teens.