Seattle Convention Center
This large-scale mural is the collection’s most iconic and historically significant artwork.
Games—the first large-scale mural ever completed by Jacob Lawrence—depicts a dense, rhythmic collage of athletes and cheering spectators in the vivid colors and graphic forms that are hallmarks of the artist’s paintings and prints. Lawrence is among the best-known 20th-century Black American painters and Games is considered one of the most historically significant artworks in King County Public Art Collection.Games consists of 10 vitreous enamel panels, which were made with the assistance of Dave Berfield, a highly skilled porcelain enamel fabricator who worked side by side with Lawrence to transfer his original drawing to metal. Powdered glass was poured into the outline for each individual color, then the panels were fired in a kiln where the heat fused the colored glass to the metal. The artwork was originally created for the Kingdome sports facility, but when the stadium was demolished in 2000, the mural was deinstalled and loaned to the Seattle Convention Center for public display.
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Lawrence (1917–2000) was born in Atlantic City, NJ, and moved to Harlem when he was 11 years old. In his early career, he developed a rich visual vocabulary that captured the essence of the Black American experience like no other American artist had done. His paintings and screen prints are narrative, often produced in series that interpret significant events or prominent figures in Black history, such as Toussaint L'Ouverture, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and the abolitionist John Brown. His iconic series on the Great Migration, a set of 60 small gouache paintings, shows the movement of Black Americans from the rural South to the urban North and was completed in 1941 when Lawrence was just 23 years old.
In 1970, Lawrence accepted a teaching position as painting faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he became an important mentor to regional artists, especially young artists of color. A man of legendary talent and deep compassion, he and his wife, artist Gwendolyn Knight, quickly become beloved and honored members of the local community. Lawrence lived and worked in Seattle until his death in 2000. His distinguished career spanned over 70 years.Games was commissioned as part of the Honors Program, which recognizes visual artists who have made significant contributions to our region through the sustained production of high-quality artwork. Two of Lawrence’s screen prints are also part of King County’s collection: Other Rooms (Harlem Street Scene) and The Library.