Sound Transit and local public artists are condemning acts of vandalism that damaged many of the 35 temporary public art murals that were recently installed at the construction site of Federal Way’s future light rail station.

The murals include numerous depictions of people of color and the damage is suspected to have been racially motivated, Sound Transit said.

The slashed murals, which through collaboration with community groups were recently installed on the outside of construction fencing, include works by local artists Jasmine Iona Brown, Lauren Iida, Toka Valu, Tiffanny Hammonds, Sabah Al-Dhaher, and barry johnson.

“I enjoy making public art because it lives in open spaces where the entire community can enjoy it. Unfortunately, vandalism is the downside of creating public art. This is not the first time my work, that often centers on black subjects, has been slashed,” said artist Jasmine Iona Brown. “Harsh realities like this are disappointing, but it only strengthens my resolve to continue creating this work. My art is my protest against injustice and inequality. Many thanks to Sound Transit and the other artists for their continued efforts on this project.”

“I came into this realm of temporary public art as a starry eyed, full-of-enthusiasm kid from the islands as my mom used to say. That kid was definitely deflated and awakened following the distasteful slashing of the murals,” said artist Toka Valu. “However, this act only affirmed for me how important this work is in the continued dialogue and advocacy for communities like the one I come from is. I’m proud to continue working alongside these artists and that Sound Transit stands firmly behind the work of its creative partners in times like these.”

Each mural is unique and designed to add color and positive energy to the surrounding streetscape, while highlighting South King County communities. Below are some images of the murals:

Art by: Tiffanny Hammonds. Mural installation in Federal Way as park of the Federal Way Link Extension construction August 21, 2020.

Art by: Toka Valu. Mural installation in Federal Way as park of the Federal Way Link Extension construction August 21, 2020.

“We won’t let this cowardly act of vandalism threaten people’s ability to benefit from the important work of these artists,” said Sound Transit Executive Director of Design, Engineering and Construction Ron Lewis. “Following our nation’s long history of racism and unfair treatment of black people and other people of color it is critical for us to show our support for change. We are restoring the artwork and taking measures that seek to prevent any further disgraceful acts. The artists created these beautiful murals to celebrate communities in Federal Way and South King County, and we call on the community to support the artists and their artistic expressions.”

The act of vandalism is suspected to have happened the night of August 20th. Sound Transit is working with its security, the City of Federal Way, and the construction contractor to consider methods to protect the murals from further harm, including potential security and surveillance measures. Members of the community are encouraged to report any information about who perpetrated this crime.

“This kind of criminal activity will not be tolerated in Federal Way, and we will do our best to identify and hold the individuals responsible for this act accountable,” said Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. “These works of art belong to the people of our city and we’re going to do everything we can to protect them.”

Temporary Mural Artists: Federal Way Station Construction Site

Brown is a Tacoma-based visual artist, exhibiting painter, and designer.  Her focus on community character lead her to a series of Northwest inspired images.

Iida is a visual artist working with large scale paper cut-outs; this work is printed from an actual large-scale paper cut stencil in black and white. The objects in the net were contributed by people in the Northwest Japanese and Cambodian communities.

Valu is an artist, designer, and co-founder of the Youth Advocacy group Our Future Matters, and  lives in SeaTac. He collaborated with young people from the Pacific Islander community in a group process to create his murals.

johnson is a self-taught exhibiting interdisciplinary artist, living in Federal Way. In addition to his “Our Federal Way” murals with interlocking hands, barry requested photographs from community members in order to paint their portraits.

Al-Dhaher is a classically trained sculptor and painter, who teaches art at the Pratt Fine Arts Center. He incorporated contributions from children from around the world in his murals.

Hammonds is a Tacoma-based muralist, artist, and youth advocate based at Fab 5 Studios. Her murals feature numerous faces in a rainbow of colors, reflecting on the connections between color and emotion.

The Federal Way Link Extension will open for service in 2024. For more information on the Federal Way Link Extension and to sign up for project updates, visit www.soundtransit.org/fwlink.