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Juneteenth 2021 Artist Collective

Juneteenth honors and celebrates the emancipation of the enslaved people in the United States. The Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity Committee of the Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass, alongside the Northwest African American Museum, One Vibe Africa and Wa Na Wari, are celebrating this day by raising the voices of Black and African American artists in an Artist Collective broadcast premiering on Friday, June 18.

As part of Northwest African American Museum’s collaborative Juneteenth week with 10 African American Museums across the nation, the Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass will introduce several amazing Black and African American artists to Seattle through a virtual show, hosted by Northwest African American Museum’s L. Patrice Bell.


Watch the Juneteenth 2021 Artist Collective virtual show premiering on Friday, June 18 on the Northwest African American Museum's YouTube channel!


Sankofa, translated from the Akan Twi and Fante languages of Ghana, means “go back and get.” It is symbolized by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. The proverb “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi” or “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten” demonstrates that there is wisdom in learning from the past which ensures a strong future. Sankofa was chosen as the theme to educate about a dark past, acknowledging our current state, and shining a light into a brighter future.


Patheresa Wells | poetry

Originally from the Midwest and having called the Pacific Northwest home for over 20 years, Patheresa Wells is inspired by her experiences as a Black woman in fourties navigating life, loneliness, and what it means to be a writer. Poetry speaks to her experiences and observations about the world around her, and writing is a way for her to connect with not only her own truths, but shared truths.

Yazzy | Visual Art

An aspiring young artist and high school student from Seattle, Yazzy was introduced to art through an after-school program when she was seven years old. Her interest in art had been sporadic until the COVID-19 pandemic; the awareness of social injustice and systematic racism that was amplified on a national scale inspired her to embrace art to express her feelings and connect with her community. Yazzy painted at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest in 2020, creating art symbolizing love and hope.

Shaina Shepherd | Music

Known for her pervasive style as front woman for the soul-grunge band BEARAXE, Shaina Shepherd is a singer, songwriter, and vocal coach based in Seattle. Shaina has recently embraced piano and local influences of jazz, soul, and folk to bring out introspective, thematic level of songwriting. Her art is all about the balance of connection between community and self-love. Shaina performed at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest in 2020, and has worked on building an artist series in local parks.

See all of the featured artists at the Juneteenth Jamboree on Saturday, June 19. Visit the Northwest African American Museum to learn more!

Meet the experts

As trusted and well-known professionals in poetry, music, dance and visual arts respectively, our experts immersed themselves to select beautiful art to curate the Juneteenth 2021 Artist Collective. Each expert represents a pillar of the community to bring together a well-balanced platform for Sankofa and Juneteenth.

Jourdan Imani Keith, Seattle Civic Poet

The City of Seattle's 2019-2021 Civic Poet, Jourdan Imani Keith is a storyteller, essayist, playwright, naturalist and activist. A student of Sonia Sanchez, her TEDx Talk "Your Body of Water" (the theme for King County's 2016-2018 Poetry on Buses program) won an Americans for the Arts award. Her poetry is largely anthologized and was long listed by Danez Smith for Cosmonauts Avenue poetry prize. Keith's Orion Magazine essays "Desegregating Wilderness" and "At Risk" were selected for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology (Houghton Mifflin). She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Wildbranch, Santa Fe Science Writing workshop, VONA, and Jack Straw. Her memoir in essays "Tugging at the Web" is forthcoming from University of Washington Press.

Simon Okelo, Founder of One Vibe Africa

Raised in the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya, Simon Okelo discovered his own potential in art and music, organizing “Unite the People” Concerts in Kisumu in the wake of the 2007 post-election violence. Simon started One Vibe to establish a music & art center in Kisumu as a platform to encourage its citizens to participate in critical engagement of culture, art, music, technology, and education to inspire youth to realize their full potential, avoid drugs and violence, and create a sustainable future.

Nia-Amina Minor, Spectrum Dance Theater

Nia-Amina Minor is a movement artist and dance educator based in Seattle. She studied at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and received her BA from Stanford University, and holds a MFA in Dance from UC Irvine. Her work has many disciplinary points of interest focusing on the body and what it carries. Through performance and teaching, Nia-Amina converses with Black realities and investigates the intersections of movement, memory, and rhythm.  She is a co-founder and former curator for Los Angeles-based collective, No)one Art House. Nia-Amina is in her 5th season with Spectrum Dance Theater and holds the position of Company Dancer as well as Community Engagement Artist Liaison.

Soulma Ayers, Wa Na Wari

Daughter of Black scholars & artists, Soulma Ayers is the multifaceted testament to what happens when art culture meets pure Black lifestyle. From being born in vintage Capitol Hill Seattle, to honing perceptions and styles in NYC & DC, Soul adds a touch of her African cultural heritage to a mix of contemporary Black art to all her works - community and creative.


L. Patrice Bell, Northwest African American Museum

L. Patrice Bell currently serves as the Director of Guest Services & External Affairs at the Northwest African American Museum. Patrice is a native of Lawton/Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and a graduate of the Atlanta University Center Dual Degree Engineering Program. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at Spelman College and her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She comes from a program planning & control background. Her experiences span aerospace companies, nonprofits, and hospitality. Her experiences span aerospace companies, nonprofits, and hospitality. Although her educational background is technical, her passions are rooted in human connection and experience. Patrice loves singing, hosting elaborate parties & events, and stuffing her friends and family with her home-cooked meals.


The submission rules were designed by the group of experts for each category:

  • Artists of all ages were invited to participate.
  • All submission had to fit in one of the following categories: poetry / written word, music, dance, or visual arts.
  • Participants could be an individual or groups.
  • The pieces submitted had to be the same piece used for the virtual broadcast.
  • Creator submitted a brief bio, an explanation of their art, how it affects their community, how their art connects to the Sankofa, and why Juneteenth is important to them.
  • Creators will be asked to submit their social media platforms (not required).
  • All work must be original to the participant submitting the work and should not use another person’s work as their own, or submit work on another person's behalf.
  • See specific submission rules for each category below:

  • Entries will be 50 words or less.
  • Submissions are open to all forms and structures of poetry.
  • Submissions must be done in English or if in a different language, an English translation must be submitted as well.
  • Submissions must be no longer than 2 minutes.
  • Submissions are open to all forms of music.
  • Submissions must be done in English or if in a different language, an English translation must be submitted as well.
  • Only one audio file or music video will be accepted.
  • Videos of musical performances must be of the musician/group performing, no music videos.
  • Submissions must be no longer than 5 minutes.
  • Submissions are open to all forms of dance.
  • Dancers can be a company, group or individual.
  • Music accompanying the dance must be public domain or submitted with written permission from an artist.
  • Music accompanying the dance must include the musician's name, title of song, and website of where the music was obtained if public domain. If not public domain, the artist’s name, band name, song name, contact information and written consent to use their music must be submitted. The artist will only be contacted to confirm permissions.
  • Submissions must be at least 3 images of a single piece of visual art.
  • Submissions are open to all forms of visual art.
  • If the submitter has previously applied for anything at Wa Na Wari, they can submit for this as well.

Selection Process

Entries were reviewed by the experts, and the artists with selected submissions were contacted to participate in the broadcast event.

Following the selection process, the selected artists were notified by our film and production team to set up a filming date The broadcast of all selected works will premiere on June 18, 2021.


Each category winner will receive:

  • $500 Visa gift card
  • A feature in the Juneteenth 2021 Artist Collective virtual show premiering on June 18, 2021
  • An invitation to participate in the Juneteenth Jamboree hosted by the Northwest African American Museum at Jimi Hendrix Park on June 19, 2021 (for poetry/written word, music, and dance winners)
  • An invitation to participate in a visual art exhibit hosted by Wa Na Wari (visual art winner)

Official Rules

See the official rules for detailed information about eligibility, selection process, and prizes.