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TUF Diversifies Digital Arts Scene

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TUF Diversifies Digital Arts Scene

June 30, 2016

“When you’re trying to pursue art or music here, and you’re young, I feel like it’s very hard to find yourself in the community, or find a community that you want to be a part of,” explains local musician/artist Bailey Skye.

As someone who has experienced instances of marginalization, Skye is glad to have found a supportive and accepting community in a local arts collective called TUF.


Connect with artists at TUF's next event, TUF FEST.

Date: July 9, 2016
Location: Judkins Park
Price: Free

TUF is as an intersectional female/nonbinary/trans arts collective, based in Seattle, with a strong presence in digital art realms. Consisting of around 80 members working in various artistic mediums, TUF is rooted in electronic music and digital media.

“Being so new in TUF, I just felt so much warmth immediately,” says Skye. “I want people to take away [from TUF] that if they have identities that are classically oppressed and marginalized, to know that in TUF there’s just a vast community that’s so supportive and we’ll show solidarity with them ... and we’ll listen. And your art is valid, and your art is important, and your opinions are important.”

TUF recently held a show, hosted by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. The public, interactive show, TUF LUV, featured work from their collective members, as well as from multiple other arts organizations, including Youth Speaks and Centered in the City. The event also featured musical sessions from local DJs, visual art, community art stations and workshops on relevant issues such as sexual consent, feminism and racism in the art’s community. WG206 captured the experience of the event and spoke with some of the event organizers and featured artists.

TUF LUV organizers Annie Holden, Kellye Kuh, Simone Pierson and Gia Valente worked together to create and execute the interactive arts event in hopes of engaging the community.

TUF LUV organizers; (from left) Annie Holden, Kellye Kuh, Simone Pierson and Gia Valente

“When we were thinking about what type of event we were going to do, there was something exciting about [the idea of] doing something during the day that was super-collaborative. We all sat down, and I think it was pretty unanimous ... how can we get a lot of other organizations involved with TUF and how can we get the whole community together around this ...?” explains Kuh.

Formed by a group of artists who share a common love for electronic music, TUF was created in response to a lack of female/nonbinary representation in a traditionally straight/male-dominated electronic music and digital media scene.

“Seattle’s electronic music scene is really growing quickly right now and becoming a sector in America, and to have a female presence in that growth is so important,” says Valente.

Pierson agrees: “I just don’t know of any other collaborative in Seattle that’s for women and nonbinary artists — it’s pretty male-dominated.”

Members of TUF Image courtesy of TUF
Seattle musician/artist Bailey Skye

In addition to making room for more diversity, TUF is committed to creating safe spaces for its artists to showcase their work and to represent who they are.

“What I wanted out of TUF, and [for] this show, is a space where we can learn from each other, and where we can make mistakes, and where we can support each other and feel really safe in the organization and in showing our work, and having so many artists who have never shown work before have space to put work up,” says Valente. These safe spaces also help to create an environment that facilitates conversation.

So I’m hoping that people here today don’t just get to look at the art, but they can talk about it and they can relate to each other.

Holden explains, “I’ve been to a lot of art shows that are very one‐sided. You go and you look at the art, but there’s not a place to talk about it. So I’m hoping that people here today don’t just get to look at the art, but they can talk about it and they can relate to each other. Having a space where you can go ingest art, but also do something and be inspired in the same space, is really, I think, probably the future of the arts.”

TUF is holding its next big interactive event, TUF FEST, on July 9, in Judkins Park.

“... Aligning to our mission of really empowering women and nonbinary people to do the art they want to do, we want to bring in artists, particularly in electronic music, because that’s a lot of where we started as a collective. So we’re bringing them in July for TUF FEST. It’s going to be a great day in Judkins Park. [There will] also be some potential evening happenings with lots of workshops and getting people together to celebrate electronic music and the conversations that happen from female and nonbinary people,” says Kuh.

Anisa Jackson and Victoria Harrell

Anisa Jackson is a critical geographer, photographer and writer based in Seattle, Wash. Jackson identifies with gender-neutral pronouns. Jackson earned a B.A. degree in geography with and a minor in Spanish at the University of Washington. Jackson's work is centered around questions related to alliance politics, critical pedagogy and community building.

Victoria Harrell is an aspiring poet/writer living in Seattle, navigating the intersections of being a mixed LatinX Xingona feminist. Growing up, she spent countless hours writing fiction both for herself and for her friends. Poetry has been a more recent endeavor for Harrell. With music being one of her great loves in life, she hopes to transform her poems into song lyrics. Since becoming involved with this TUF project with Jackson, Harrell hopes to also begin to explore photography and creating visual art.

Jackson and Harrell are both members of TUF. They teamed up to collaborate on a visual poem to feature at TUF LUV. The two spoke with What’s Good 206 about their featured piece, as well as explained how TUF has provided an avenue for them to feature work as new artists.

Disinter, a Visual Poem by Anisa Jackson and Victoria Harrell

More from Anisa Jackson:

Jackie Braun

Jackie Braun is a biologist, poet, performer, writer, crafter and master cat herder. Her works are informed through structures of biology and compassion, as well as the interpretation of personal history and experience. She is an active member and coordinator for Lion's Main Art Collective.

For TUF LUV, Braun featured a performance piece, which she describes in her interview with What’s Good 206. Braun also shared her perspective on a common struggle faced by young artists, and why it is so important for the community to support its artists. Learn more about Lion’s Main Art Collective.

More from Lion's Main Art Collective:

Bailey Skye

Bailey Skye is a mixed, nonbinary visual artist and musician, based in Seattle, Wash. Skye identifies with gender-neutral pronouns. Skye plays music under the name Nightspace, and will soon be releasing a new EP. Skye is an avid part of the Seattle arts and music scene, and loves being a member of TUF‐Seattle. You can see Skye perform on July 16 at Barboza, with youryoungbody and Aeon Fux.

Skye featured visual art pieces at TUF LUV, and spoke with What’s Good 206 about their work and TUF’s accepting community.

More from Skye and Nightspace:

Valerie Calano

Valerie Calano, also known as Seattle’s DJ Explorateur, is a key figure in Seattle’s thriving underground music scene as a DJ and curator. Her deep knowledge of psychedelia, electronic, new age, ambient music, funk, jazz and other genres has led to gigs with major acts like Animal Collective, Faust, Loop and Floating Points, as well as to compiling playlists for Seattle’s Bumbershoot. In 2013, Calano participated in a panel discussion about record collecting at the EMP Pop Conference. She was also featured in Eilon Paz’ 2014 book Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting. Additionally, she is also a member of the dark electronics collective False Prophet, resident DJ on Hollow Earth Radio’s Yonic Boom show, and a member of Seattle’s TUF collective. A seriously dedicated DJ, she is never not striving to increase her awareness — and procurement — of life‐changing music.

Calano D.J. led a meditation session at TUF LUV. In her What’s Good 206 interview, Calano describes her performance experience and the unique setting TUF offers.

More from Calano:

More from Rare Air:
Rare Air
Seattle Weekly article

Ana Walker

Ana Walker is a poet and intern with Youth Speaks Seattle, a collective for youth spoken word poetry. She has been writing poetry since middle school. Walker performed spoken word at TUF LUV.

“I identify as a queer youth ... and this event is really amazing, and I love seeing queer events because it just makes me feel really safe and loved, even if I don’t know anyone in the room. It’s just really cool.”

Walker tells WG206 that spoken word poetry is a form of therapy and healing for her. When she needs to articulate an experience, she writes about it.

“The first piece I performed ... it’s just about experiences I’ve had with racism ... and I shared it because I wanted people to hear my story and I wanted to feel like I wasn’t alone in it.”

Walker also talked with WG206 about the importance of putting on events like TUF LUV.

“It’s important to showcase minorities — I hate that word — but I think queer voices are often silenced or not paid attention to, and it’s really important to lift them up — whether that’s through visual art or dancing or speaking — but it’s really amazing and powerful to bring all these artists together, and hold space for this, and get to see what people are working on. Art is very vulnerable, and it’s an expression of trust to display your art. This feels very safe and wonderful and trusting to me. And maybe if we keep on having these loving events we can have less hate in the world.”

Walker’s performance at the 2016 Youth Speaks Grand Slam

Bristol Hayward‐Hughes

Bristol Hayward‐Hughes studied at Cornish College of the Arts and received her B.F.A. in 2015. She works primarily in printmaking, photography and video. Conceptually based, her work features mixed media that alludes to cultural, spiritual and mythological representation of femininity. Inspired by Florentine depictions of the wrath of woman, Hayward‐Hughes combines glittering swatches of costume dress and utilizes over‐saturated floral palettes to create an assemblage of explosive color and futuristic materials.

Hayward‐Hughes has been a member of TUF for one year. She featured an interactive audio visual piece at TUF LUV. Here’s what she had to say about TUF:

“TUF definitely benefits the community by giving a space and voice to some people who might feel more marginalized in our community. We’re just looking to broaden the spaces and opportunities for everyone. We try to develop our shows in more of a DIY style, so it doesn’t feel too corporate or gallery-like. We want it to feel friendly and open —‐ just a place where you can hang out.”

More from Hayward‐Hughes

TUF is holding its next big event on July 9. TUF FEST will take place at Judkins Park, and is free and open to the public. The event will feature visual art, musical performances, workshops, and TUF talks, and will bring together a variety of artists from across Seattle.

Be sure to come out to TUF FEST on July 9, and support TUF’s artists in their mission to diversify the arts scene and connect with Seattle’s community.

Listen to music from TUF.

Jen Germain

Jen Germain is a media producer with the Creative Services team at Cascade Public Media, helping to drive brand and programming initiatives. Previously, Jen worked as a producer with Spark Public, where she helped lead digital strategy and mentor a team of millennial multimedia journalists. Find her on Twitter @jengermain. 

More stories by Jen Germain