Working Forward, Weaving Anew is a 13,000-square-foot, team-created mural. It intertwines scenes of hand production: Puyallup basket weaving, logging, furniture-building, and present-day weaving, telling a site-specific story of the changing attitudes towards the natural world.
Esteban Camacho Steffensen and Jessilyn Brinkerhoff created this mural through an exploration of the history of production in Tacoma, primarily employing images of wood and weaving. Their design includes a Puyallup basket weaver, clearcutting, furniture making, and a person creating a contemporary artwork. All of these forms of production are intimately connected with the history of this place, from the massive cedar trees that once stood along this corridor to the furniture shop that occupied buildings in the surrounding warehouses.
Working Forward, Weaving Anew is a mural designed to honor cultural traditions, the natural environment, and our need for new harmonious and sustainable paths forward into the future. The muralists worked closely with representatives from the Puyallup Tribe to ensure the cultural imagery in their artwork is respectful and accurate. This 50-foot-tall mural was hand painted in a span of 6 weeks with help from a team of nine Native American artists: Bruce Speakthunder Berry, Andrea Bob, Lloyd Neeka Cook, Anthony Duenas, Kanani Miyamoto, Ariella Pool, Elisabeth Tail, Charles Taylor, and Paul Valencia.
View a closeup mural showing the artists at work.
Jessilyn Brinkerhoff and Esteban Camacho Steffensen are muralists and collaborative public artists. Their work flows out of conversations, and tells awe-inspiring, larger-than-life stories. In this case, their conversations with local historians and representatives from the Puyallup Tribe inspired this mural, which was conceptualized and refined in 20 different versions of the design.
To create the final mural, the artists used their full artistic arsenal: sketching, painting, photography, and graphic design. As they designed, the artists relied on historic photos, documents, and artifacts to accurately capture and weave together this complex array of stories.