Who's Musing Who?

Tameka Norris

An Intimate Dialog with Interdisciplinary artist Tameka Norris

Sat. April 11, 1-2pm

Interdisciplinary Artist Tameka Norris (aka Meka Jean)  recently had her identity and creative property appropriated while producing her newest film, Meka Jean: How She Got Good.  Join Tameka Norris at The Project Room to discuss intellectual property, authorship, and socioeconomic status as it relates to personal legacy in a digital era and our current topic, Monument

RSVP via facebook (optional). 

Tameka Norris.  Still from her newest video,  Recovery .

Tameka Norris.  Still from her newest video, Recovery.

Tameka Norris (b.1979, Guam) received her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles before graduating with an MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2012. Through her work in performance, video, photography, and installation, Norris has always sought to originate and control the distribution of her own images, delving into themes of authorship and subjecthood. She has participated in the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2009), the Fountainhead Residency (2012) and the Hermitage Artist Retreat (2012). Her group exhibitions include Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art recently at the Walker Art Center and Gifted and Talented, Third Streaming Gallery, New York (2012). Norris debuted her feature length film/installation Meka Jean: How She Got Good at Prospect 3 in New Orleans (2014). Publications include articles in Art News, ArtForum, Art in America, and The New York Times. Norris lives and works in New Orleans, LA and Berlin, Germany



This TPR event is sponsored & supported by:  the neddy artist award.

Tameka Norris will be the featured speaker at NEDDY's 2015 Ned Behnke Annual Lecture on Friday, April 10 at the Frye Art Museum. Her presentation, 'Notes on Failure', will examine the vulnerabilities of being an artist and creating a life/practice after finishing college.
RECEPTION AT 6:00 P.M. PROGRAM BEGINS AT 7:00. 'Notes on Failure' is a FREE ticketed event. 

Legacy Assignment Series 1

10,000 Year Warning System:

A Workshop with multi-media artist Robert Rhee

Saturday, February 28th, 1-2pm at The Project Room

Special Guests include:  Environmental Lawyers Wyatt Golding + Sara Leverette, Linguist Tanya Matthews, and Multi-Media Artist Vaughn Bell. 

Join Artist Robert Rhee and a group of interdisciplinary thinkers for the first free public workshop in our event series, The Legacy Assignments.

Robert poses this question to participants:  How do you create a warning system to prevent an accidental unearthing of 200 million pounds of radioactive nuclear waste? A simple sign, some chain link and a military post might work today. But what about 10,000 years from now? 

In 2002 the U.S. Department of Energy brought together engineers, archaeologists, anthropologists and linguists and asked them this question. What type of warning system can be put in place so people, 370 generations from now, won't open the  glowing door?  What they came up with is hardly inspiring.  Can we do better?

Together with a group of special guests, workshop participants will take a stab at designing this system while asking, "How Are We Remembered?"

Images above from the 2002 U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Waste Storage Plan Proposal.  It includes: a large earthen mound with a salt core and two identical Dr. Strangelove-esque control rooms with a warning message  written in the six official languages of the U.N. and Navajo. Construction of this Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is currently stalled and (in our opinion) in desperate need of a redesign.

Spread the word about the event by sharing our facebook invitation

Robert Rhee is based in New York and Seattle. He is an artist and writer and a professor at Cornish College of the Arts. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including White Columns in NY, the Ilmin Museum of Art in Seoul, and the Ferdinand Van Dieten Gallery in Amsterdam. He is currently represented by Opsis Art in Seoul and has an upcoming essay in the inaugural issue of Heck Magazine.

Rob Rhee (self portrait)

Rob Rhee (self portrait)

Unseen monuments

Thursday, February 5th at 7p at The Project Room

Author Michelle Peñaloza launches The Project Room's new topic, Monument, with a discussion about the unseen Seattle monuments she uncovered while writing her forthcoming book landscape/heartbreak. 

Over the course of a year, Michelle asked people in Seattle to take her on walks from the Richard Hugo House to places in the city where they’d had their hearts broken. With poems and maps, Peñaloza's chapbook landscape/heartbreak creates a literary cartography of heartbreak in Seattle.

Join us to ask, "How do our ephemeral experiences create monuments?  What kind of story can a city tell if this isn't just the corner of Broadway and John, but the corner where X learned that Y never really loved him? Or if this isn't just the hospital across the street, but the place where Z told her mother she loved her for the very last time?"

landscape/heartbreak  book cover (Tessa Hulls)

landscape/heartbreak book cover (Tessa Hulls)

Photo by Timothy Aguero Photography for Poetry on Buses, King County, WA

Photo by Timothy Aguero Photography for Poetry on Buses, King County, WA

About Michelle:

Michelle Peñaloza grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming from The Asian American Literary Review, The New England Review, TriQuarterly, Pleiades, Pinwheel, and INCH.  She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the University of Oregon, Kundiman, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, the Richard Hugo House, and Literary Arts, as well as scholarships from VONA Voices, PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists), Vermont Studio Center, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference.  She lives in Seattle.  Her chapbook, landscape / heartbreak, is forthcoming from Two Sylvias Press on Valentine's Day, 2015.

Michelle also recently published an essay, "Who Was Your First Hero, Michelle Peñaloza?" on TPR's online literary journal, Off Paper.  Take a peek to learn more about the character that brought her comfort and courage: Muhammad Ali. 

Why Tessa Hulls is Great. Welcoming our New Editor.

Tessa Hulls is a reader, writer, illustrator, painter, public speaker and all-around maker.

Illustration by the multi-talented woman herself, Tessa Hulls.

Illustration by the multi-talented woman herself, Tessa Hulls.

This presents a problem. The problem lies within describing someone creative who does everything because they could be misrepresented as a hobbyist. It is the curse of the multitalented. So, I very carefully note that Tessa makes work and executes her ideas in a variety of forms, such as illustration, writing, murals, and performance art (I’m not even sure she would call it that, but what else do you call a spoken presentation with drawings that illustrate an idea one is grappling with?). You may have seen Tessa sketching at a TPR event as her way of note-taking, or perhaps you have read her beautiful responses to one of her ambitious solo overseas bicycle trips (yes, she is also good at biking alone in remote places).

What makes perfect sense throughout all of her efforts is the honesty in everything she makes, as she unapologetically interweaves her different creative formats with her personal life in beautiful ways. This is perhaps most noticeable in the outstanding personal essays she has published during her solo travels and her way of explaining how inspiration comes to her from such different sources as Calvin & Hobbes and The Great Gatsby.

Tessa has the perfect open-mindedness of someone who is curious about creativity and is not bothered by the experimental nature of The Project Room. Directing TPR’s online platform for writing and thinking about creativity can only be put in the hands of an editor who knows when to get on the abstract side of an idea and when to just get something direct and understandable on paper- er, online. In other words, the trick to Off Paper is creating a readable collection of essays and images that reflect on TPR’s current themes while grounding them in something anyone can read and enjoy. Tessa Hulls is the perfect person for this challenge.

I am honored by Tessa’s loyalty to TPR since she first offered her skills in 2012, and I cannot wait to see what she makes happen in 2015!

Thanks, Tessa (:




Now meet The Project Room's Director, Tia Kramer

A Single Glorious Thing: Happy New Year From The Project Room

Image from Story of the Roman People by E. M. Tappan 

Image from Story of the Roman People by E. M. Tappan 

In my own worst seasons I've come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window.  And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress.  And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon.  Until I learned to be in love with my life again.  Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.

—Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder

On January 10th of the year 49 BC, General Julius Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon River and uttered the phrase “alea iacta est”: the die is cast. In crossing the Rubicon, Caesar knowingly created a point of no return: he catalyzed a civil war in which he would either face execution as a traitor, or become a conquering hero.

Stories of transformation often contain tipping points, fulcrums upon which the narrative shifts and we are suddenly able to split the tale into before and after. But these moments are rarely as clearly defined as the crossing of a literal river, and more often than not, stories of transformation are testaments to the understated power of accumulation. We see progress in retrospect, and it is only when we turn around and look back that we can concretely point and say, “Right there. That is when it started to change.” 

Two weeks ago, The Project Room hosted a conversation with Ahamefule J. Oluo to talk about his recent show Now I’m Fine, a highly personal, genre-spanning pop opera performed at On the Boards. Oluo’s show melded music, standup comedy, and unabashedly intimate storytelling to examine the ways in which we learn to be okay even during those moments at which we are anything but. Oluo joined us to discuss how Now I’m Fine dovetails with The Project Room’s current topic of Transformation. 

The first threads of Now I’m Fine began percolating as Oluo’s life was falling apart. He experienced a death and a divorce that leveled him, and in the midst of this personal low point, he developed a rare disease that caused his skin to literally fall apart. As a lifelong musician, Oluo knew how to find release through making work; but as his skin disintegrated, he could not touch the tools that would allow him some measure of release.

But in the midst of this helplessness and despair, Olou found a beat up old organ out on the street, and he brought it home to his basement apartment. His skin was too fragile to press the keys of a real keyboard, but the cheap plastic keys of this discarded organ were light enough that he could touch them. And so he brought this organ into his closet and lightly stroked the keys with his skinless fingers, making music in the only way that he could. 

And in that small moment, he was fine. 

The title Now I’m Fine can be read in two ways. The first implies a before and after: I was not ok, but now I am. The second is more nuanced: I cannot speak to any larger truth, but within this singular moment, I am ok. It seems to me that this second meaning is more honest: it acknowledges that the resonance of emotional truth always carries within it a fleeting dusting of uncertainty.

Human beings are storytellers. Our capacity for narrative—our ability to define ourselves through self-created mythology—is what makes our species unique. It also makes us melodramatic; we want our stories to be epic. We want our generals to charge across the Rubicon bellowing binary battle cries. But transformation is the accumulation of transitory moments strung together, and it happens with the soothing cadence of walking: we put one foot in front of the other until we can look up to see that the landscape has changed. That we have borne ourselves away to somewhere new. 

So as 2014 draws to a close and we welcome 2015, let us take a moment to pause and reflect on the slowness of one single glorious thing. Let us look not to the flashy reinvention of crossing Rubicon, but instead focus on the small streams that we ford each day. Happy New Year, everyone. 

A Conversation with Ahamefule J. Oluo

Monday, December 15th at 7:30pm at The Project Room

Musician/performer/comedian Ahamefule J. Oluo’s Now I’m Fine is a genre-spanning pop opera of “darkly funny personal stories about illness, despair, and regeneration.” Stemming from a period in his life in which everything seemed to be falling apart, Oluo’s Now I’m Fine is a creative exploration of how we navigate moments of hopelessness. Join us for a conversation with Oluo about this work, and how it dovetails with The Project Room’s current topic of Transformation.    

About the Presenter:

Ahamefule J. Oluo is a composer, comedian, and trumpet player. Oluo was the first Artist-in-Residence at Town Hall in Seattle. A longtime writing partner of comedian Hari Kondabolu, he has performed nationally with bands including Das Racist and Hey Marseilles, and is a fixture in the local and national comedy scenes. His garage-jazz quartet Industrial Revelation won the 2014 Stranger Genius Award. Oluo lives and works in Seattle.


Photograph by Bruce Tom

Photograph by Bruce Tom

Creative & Inspiring People Who Have Shared Their Work With The Project Room

Two-Hundred and Thirty-Two since we opened in July, 2011! Here is our list of past presenters, podcast interviewees, and contributing writers: 

Adrian Michna

Ahamefule J. Olou

Alina Hua

Alicia Eler

Allan Packer

Allison Ellis

Amanda Manitach

Amy Poisson

Amy Schrader

Amy O’Neal

Anastacia Tolbert

Andy Meyer

Angela B. Ginorio

Angela Jane Fountas

Anne Blackburn

Anne Carson

Antoine Wilson

Barbara Dollarhide-Pritchard

Barbara Earl Thomas

Ben Blankenship

Bernadette Bascom

Bill Wood

Bill Horist

Bonnie Hammond

Brangien Davis

Brett Hamil

Brian Emery

Bruce Machart

Bryan Cook

Byron Au Yong

C. Davida Ingram

Cameron Hall

Cameron Anne Mason

Carrie Akre

Charles Mudede

Charles Spitzack

Charlie Matlack

Claire Barboza

Claude Zervas

Corey Blaustein

Dale Dougherty

Dan Webb

Dave Zucker

David Eadington

David Mura

David Henry

David Nixon

David Vaughan

Dawn Losinger

Dean Moore

Derrick Jefferies

DJ Brass

Donald Byrd

Elisabeth Robson

Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth Kenny

Ellen Forney

Ellen Garvens

Ellie Dicola

Emily Marsh

Emily White

Emma Desjardins

Emmet V Smith

Emmett Montgomery

Eric Olson

Erin Shafkind

Ethan Schoonover

Evan J. Peterson

Ezra Cooper

Faustine Hudson

Fiia McGann

Frederick Robinson III

Garrett Fisher

Gilbert Baker

Gina Frangello

Greg Stonebreaker

Gregory Laynor

Gretta Harley

Hannah Stephenson

Harmony Hasbrook

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir

Hsu-Ken Ooi

Jan Wallace

Jane Charles

Janet Yoder

Jason Dodson

Jason Schmidt

Jean Hicks

Jeannine Hall Gailey

Jeffrey Mongrain

Jeffry Mitchell

Jenifer Woffard

Jenifer Ward

Jennifer Borges Foster

Jennifer Dalton

Jennifer McCoy

Jentry Sayers

Jesmyn Ward

Joe Henry

Joey Bates

Joey Veltkamp

John Gilbreath

John Grade

John Osebold

Jonathan Miles

Jonathan Zwickel

Joshua Brevoort

Joshua Wolf Shenk

Juan Pablo Macías

Julia Harrison

Justin Runge

Kate Lebo

Kate Willette

Katrina Hess

Keely Isaak Meehan



Most recently updated: September 2016

donum: A Huge Success!

Photography by  Katie Miller

Photography by Katie Miller

Thank you to everyone who came out to support donum, our TPR fundraiser! We were honored to feature beautiful work by local artists (learn more about them here, and view studio visits here). The Project Room continually looks to support innovative makers, and we appreciate their generosity in supporting our work in return. Special thanks to our food sponsor Artusi, and to Britt Rynearson, donum founder, who selected The Project Room for this year's event.

The event was a huge success, and we are grateful for all your generosity. 

by Katie Miller

Speed Dating 2.0: Art & Technology

Photography by Nicholas Strobelt

Photography by Nicholas Strobelt

On September 30th 2014, The Project Room gathered twelve artists and twelve technologists for the purpose of engaging in high-powered yet very brief conversations, under the watchful eyes of twelve "chaperones." The event was called Art & Technology: Speed Dating 2.0.

by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

Thanks to our hard-working chaperones, we have notes from every conversation that took place, and we did our best to tweet as fast as we could during the one-minute break between "dates." We didn't have time to tweet everything--and some handwriting was just too indecipherable!--but we did our best.

Thank you to Siren, our co-host, and our wonderful participants, whose investment and curiosity made this event a success! Read more about structure of the event in our original invitation. Stay tuned for future Art & Technology events!

Below are some particularly good responses to a few of the questions we asked:


When do you do your best problem-solving?

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 9.20.17 PM.png

Which matters more to you, that your work be critically acclaimed, or that it be wildly popular?

by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

Should your work last forever? If so, how and why?

What does it look like when your work fails?

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.29.21 AM.png
by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

What would you do if you weren’t an artist/technologist?

by Nicholas Strobelt

by Nicholas Strobelt

What might a monument built for you look like?

Dear Friends of The Project Room:

I want to write you all with some big and exciting news:

As of November 3rd, I will no longer be Founder/Director of The Project Room, but will begin my new job as Assistant Director of Exhibition Programs and Gallery Initiatives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This is an incredible opportunity to bring what I have created and learned at The Project Room to a world-class art institution that has been producing arts programming since 1929!

Although I will be joining a larger institution with a richer history, I will bring with me my love of Seattle and the curiosity of its people that allowed The Project Room to thrive. There were many moments over the past three years when I would conclude an event and think to myself, "People really care about the arts here and are open to weird experiments in creativity- this city is awesome!" In other words, Seattle pride follows me to New York.

Thanks to people like you who have attended events, shared your work, donated money, and followed along from afar, we have produced unique arts programs for free since 2011. We have featured the work of over two-hundred creative leaders, makers and thinkers, and have been able to position the organization to continue beyond my leadership, which is a dream come true.

Moving forward, I will join the TPR Board of Directors and will help transition programs and operations to the brilliant Tia Kramer, who has been working with us as a volunteer since 2012 and has more than earned the title of Director of The Project Room. 

Among her many skills, Tia Kramer is an artist, designer and curator who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Macalester College. She has a special interest in collaborative, socially engaged and site-specific arts programming, and has taught at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Macalester College, and the School of Visual Arts in Minneapolis.

I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you in my new role as a TPR Board member as we continue to work towards realizing the goals of the organization. This is a very special organization to me and, although I would have created arts programming even if no one showed up, having all of you with me has been the best part.



The Failure Variety Show: What Happened!?

From left: Eric Olson, Emmett Montgomery, and Timothy Firth suited up for failure

From left: Eric Olson, Emmett Montgomery, and Timothy Firth suited up for failure

For those of you wondering what took place at our Failure Variety Show at Bumbershoot, and for those who were there and want to see it once more, take a look at these excerpts of failure, featuring the following brave souls:

Comedian Emmett Montgomery (our unflappable host)

Playwright Kelleen Conway-Blanchard

Singer/Songwriter Carrie Akre

Comedian Brett Hamil

AND: Our Rube Goldberg Machine Creators, Eric Olson & Timothy Firth!

In keeping with the show's theme, the quality of the video is poor, but we think it gives you a sense of the event and how much fun everyone had- enjoy!

Meet the Artists of donum!

In anticipation of donum, our upcoming art and fashion sale, we visited the studios of each of the featured artists to learn more about why they make what they make and where their ideas come from. Enjoy these excerpts and join us for the event!

donum: A Contemporary Art and Fashion Sale
November 21st & 22nd  1:00 pm to 7:00 pm each day
location : The Project Room @ 1315 E. Pine, Seattle

About donum:

donum is an annual contemporary art and fashion charitable event.  Featuring high quality, artful products made by selected notable local designers, donum brings together a group of established artists and designers in an effort to present their unique work to consumers and to raise money for a Seattle-based nonprofit.  This year's show will support The Project Room. Participating artists will donate a portion of their proceeds to the organization.  Admission to this event is free.  Items for sale will range from $50 to $1000.

Special thanks to talented videographer Daniel Laninga