Recommended by Joule Zelman
Yadesa Bojia, originally from Ethiopia, became an artist when he moved to Seattle and created the winning design for the African Union flag. In this new show, Bojia applies his figurative and symbolic skills to portraits of African Americans: Local black activists, artists, writers, and professionals are painted in "mug shots." (One of them is Charles Mudede, The Stranger's film editor.) Instead of a name plate, each holds a placard with a description of their family relationship, profession, and passion—"mother," "father," "artist," "activist," "humanitarian." Alongside this gallery of black citizen self-assertion, which subverts the visual trappings of criminality and punishment, Bojia has juxtaposed a more expressionist series. There are figures gathered against abstract, vividly colored backgrounds and silhouettes protesting in front of enflamed cities. A saintlike person clothed in orange and yellow spreads their arms in an image crisscrossed like stained glass. Bojia seems to encompass the civic and the spiritual to reveal black humanity and resilience in the face of persecution.