Call for Artists

Artist Sought for 1886 Anti-Chinese Riot Artwork on the Waterfront

A momentous effort to permanently recognize the 1886 anti-Chinese riots and expulsion of Chinese from Seattle is becoming increasingly real. After years of advocating for a major artwork on the Waterfront centering on the bigoted and ruthless legacy of the 1886 anti-Chinese riot, the community group promoting the project has received funding to secure an artist to design the artwork.

The artwork will be located on the east side of Alaskan Way South, between South Washington and South Main Streets. The location of the artwork is symbolic of the anti-Chinese riot since it is in the vicinity of the dock where the Chinese were brought for boarding on the steamship out of Seattle.

Bettie Luke, a key member of the community group and board member of the Seattle Chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, said, “We are sending out notices to the art community for an artist to design the artwork and hope to find one within the next couple of months.” Luke has for decades sought to establish a permanent educational piece on the 1886 anti-Chinese riots. “The riot,” she added, “along with the expulsion of Chinese from Seattle was one of the most racist events Seattle and Washington State ever experienced. It is something the public should be aware of.”

Fueled by years of anti-Chinese sentiments, the anti-Chinese riot erupted in Seattle on February 7, 1886。 On that day, an angry mob of 1,500 invaded the Chinese settlement here in Pioneer Square, forced some 350 Chinese on wagons, and hauled them and their belongings to this vicinity to be sent away on the Queen of the Pacific steamer to San Francisco。 The mob’s intent, as well as most of the citizens of Seattle, was the expulsion of Chinese from Seattle。 So horrendous and terrifying were the actions of the anti-Chinese rioters that it provoked the Territorial Governor to proclaim a state of insurrection, declare martial law, and request federal troops to restore order。 Only a handful of Chinese remained after the expulsion of the Chinese。 The Chinatown, which centered on Second and Washington Street, had numbered over 600 Chinese just months prior to the riot。

Historic South Downtown and 4Culture are providing support to prepare the artwork design。 Additional funds for the fabrication and installment of the artwork will need to be obtained to complete the project。

A Call for Artists to find interested artists to design the artwork is due on November 1, 2019 at 4:30pm。 Interested parties should contact the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, the lead agency in this artwork project, for a copy of the Call for Artists and additional information。

“Our plans are to have the concept of the artwork design for community input in early 2020,” said Wing Luke Museum Deputy Executive Director Cassie Chinn. “Hopefully we can engage a number of groups and community members to provide input into the design in what we believe will be among the City’s most important art pieces, one that marks this significant historical event at its very location regarding the legacy of the Chinese experience in Seattle,” she added.


Download the Call for Artists PDF for information about the project guidelines and submissions.

Applications must be received by Friday, November 1, 2019 at 4:30pm, no postmarks.