Reflecting the City – Paul E. McKee’s ‘Rosetta Glass’

When Paul McKee found out he’d been selected to participate in Storefronts’ Installation program, he was anxious to learn which vacant storefront he’d be assigned. He planned to create his Storefronts Seattle Installation specifically to evoke the feeling of the assigned neighborhood, and needed to be able to walk and experience that neighborhood in order to pull it off.  Luckily, we were able to tell Paul that he would have a storefront in Chinatown-International District in time for him to create Rosetta Glass for Round 2’s opening on December 1.

Paul used reflections he saw in the neighborhood windows to begin the piece, giving him “a hook to hang all the various trains of thought a city inspires.”  The many different languages heard on the street in Chinatown-International District helped shape the piece, which Paul says “coalesced around the feeling of being surrounded by so many languages that I don’t understand. Shapes in reflections became characters which I could use to try and indicate all the simultaneous stories going on in the International District.”

Paul McKee's 'Rosetta Glass,' pictured at night. (photo by Paul McKee)

He hopes that after viewing his storefront, “people more fully appreciate how wonderful reflections are- their evocative shapes, their undulating movements.” The work’s title, Rosetta Glass, is a nod to the unifying feeling that Paul hopes his work brings to those who view it – art is a language all can understand.

Storefronts Seattle, Paul thinks, makes a potentially bleak neighborhood environment better. “With the economy in bad shape, people have a tendency to look at all the vacant spaces and panic- which just makes the situation worse,” he says. “This program turns all that empty space into an opportunity.  Artists get to try ideas that just wouldn’t be possible in boom times…a simple thing like getting people from different disciplines together on a project like this is very powerful.”

Catch Rosetta Glass at 409 Maynard Ave S through February 28.

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About storefrontsseattle

Activating neighborhoods and overlooked spaces by filling vacant urban spaces with art installations, pop-up boutiques, galleries, and community groups since 2010.
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