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August Wilson Way

August Wilson Way Portal + Street Plan

client: Seattle Center
location: Seattle Center, Seattle, WA | size: 12’ high portal, four-block long street | opened: 2009

The August Wilson Way Portal, installed behind The Rep on the Seattle Center campus, was the pivotal piece of what was planned to be a 4-block, pedestrian passage in honor of the American playwright, August Wilson, who wrote ten plays for each decade of 20th Century African American experience.

Mindy was hired by the Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Intiman Theater, Seattle Center, and Constanza Romero Wilson (August Wilson’s widow) to design an art piece for this site. The full street plan includes ruins of a slave ship, steel street lights (one for every play), bronze plaques, and carved granite theater seats. The red door of the existing piece “belongs” to Aunt Ester, a spirit cleanser who lives to 322 years old in Wilson’s plays. The bronze welcome mat says that we might be lost but Aunt Ester knows the way. The Portal is made of steel and weighs 3000 pounds, in deference to Wilson’s childhood in Pittsburgh and the substantial weight of his ideas.

Through Mindy’s reading of Wilson’s plays, one theme emerged, which is that we must understand our past to go healthfully into our future. The letterbox is replaced with a “stories” box so that people may virtually leave their stories and pass healthfully into their futures along August Wilson Way.

photos © Michael Cole, 2008