Artist Team Selected to Design 2-D Art for Fence at the King County International Airport/Boeing Field

Tommy Segundo and Toka Valu, 2020. Photo by 4Culture staff.

We are thrilled to announce that Tommy Segundo and Toka Valu have been awarded a unique commission at the King County International Airport/ Boeing Field (KCIA). They will create a 2-dimensional artwork for permanent installation along a fence adjacent to the planned public access road to the Georgetown Steam Plant Museum (GSPM). It will be influenced by the rich history and contextual narrative of the surrounding neighborhoods, communities, industry, and Duwamish River basin. Over the coming months Tommy and Toka will work closely with 4Culture and KCIA to research the history of the area and identify important aspects of the built and cultural environment; this will help them develop concepts for the artwork.

Born and raised in South Seattle, Tommy is enrolled Kaigani Haida and Katzie (Coast Salish) and Filipino. He calls himself an “Urban Native” and says, “Growing up in the city, formline art has always been one of the few ways I’m able to stay connected to my Haida culture.” He has practiced traditional Northwest Coastal Formline Art since a very young age but later learned and studied with the late Marvin Oliver while earning his degree at the University of Washington. He spent the past 15 years as an educator working with Native youth across the state of Washington. As a full-time father of three, Tommy’s art practice not only helps to carry on cultural traditions, it has also given him an opportunity to continue to support his family, while allowing him a more flexible schedule to keep up with the daily demands of parenting.

Toka is an indigenous Pacific Islander artist and illustrator with years of experience facilitating workshops and organizing communities. His artistic and design influences are deeply rooted and informed by his cultural upbringing as a Tongan. A visual storyteller, his practice is rooted in culture, driven by narrative, and centered around a unique voice, which has situated him in a position to provide astute perspectives on today’s geopolitical and social climate though his art and design. “I am committed to creative design solutions, community driven art- and meaning-making, and a collaborative design process built on dynamic back-and-forth dialogue and old-school hustle,” says Toka.

Tommy and Toka’s journey together began in 2009, when they met while working as recruiters for the University of Washington’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. As two indigenous males in higher education, they immediately developed a bond which led to a strong working relationship. They developed, coordinated, and carried out several large scale conferences and workshops that supported underrepresented students of color in their higher education endeavors. They continued to work in education until 2019 when they both decided to pursue art full-time; they believe that this was not by coincidence and that their paths were meant to cross again. Tommy and Toka are thrilled to embark on their first artistic collaboration in creating art that intertwines traditional forms with contemporary elements. Stay tuned for updates as this project moves forward!