Postcards in Time

Postcards in Time is a multiphase community-building and place-making project at Kawabe Memorial House, a H.U.D. facility for primarily immigrant seniors. An initial R&D phase gathered oral histories from the seniors, and resulted in a suite of multilingual postcards about their lives and concerns. The postcards gave voice and visibility to the immigrant seniors who traditionally are an invisible population due to social, cultural and economic factors. Many years after the conclusion of the project, the postcards continue to be widely used by the seniors for personal communications as well as by Kawabe House as part of the Kawabe identity.

The second phase involved creating meaningful spaces in the Kawabe building, activating formerly inert, overlooked areas to become dynamic areas of community identity formation. This includes redesigning the entry vestibule from a former grey concrete box to a symbolic transitional space between the interior and exterior, and features architectural art glass based on Postcards images. It also includes creating a locus for community-stories by transforming a formerly characterless hallway alcove into an interactive listening lounge featuring seniors' multilingual oral histories and music, and a wall of community portraits that is updated on an ongoing basis by residents. Residents have also undertaken their own efforts to update the Listening Station content after the commission ended.

Mixed media: offset lithography; glass fresco; wood; DVD, interactive listening station, seating. An ARTSUP project of the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Kawabe Memorial House, Seattle, WA.

2001- 2005