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The historical downtown district will get a new look that will coincide with the initial steps in developing the new Unity Park on Pearl Street.

The Ellensburg City Council approved the Arts Commission recommendation for Kirkland artist Nina Vichayapai’s work to go on display at the Visitor’s Center on Fourth Avenue and Pearl Street.

The art installation will be in a very visible location and is an alternative to the original plan to paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural on a city street. The city council rescinded the idea of the street mural after public dissension, but maintained its intention to express a strong message of support within the community in response to the issues highlighted by the current national discussion involving the broad issue of racial inequities.

“To honor the rich cultural fabric of Ellensburg and Central Washington’s diverse past and present communities, I would like to create a quilt. The quilt will patch together images sourced from the community through both historical archives and present groups,” Vichayapai said. “The images collected will be translated into fabric collages. These collaged squares will then be stitched together to make a vibrant quilt for window display.

“The resulting piece will utilize the language of quilts as an iconic American storytelling craft to celebrate the diversity of the local region. The community quilt will be installed and displayed in the two vacant storefront windows and two shadowboxes of the building adjacent to the Rotary Pavilion.”

Vichayapai will collaborate with local organizations to source images for this project. The histories and groups she will include in this project would be the indigenous Yakama, the Black coal miners of Roslyn, pioneer-era Asian immigrants working on railroads and lumber mills, and modern-day Latinx communities, as well as other present communities that come up during outreach, she said.

The artwork will be developed by the end of the month and installed July 4 after the demolition of the Wells Fargo drive-through. One long-time fixture coming down marks the beginning of change in the historical downtown. The temporary display of diversity, inclusion and equity in the community with her community quilt for the Rotary Pavilion Temporary Art Installation.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at rharwood@kvnews.com

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