RapidRide Art Plan
Elisheba Johnson and Kristen Ramirez
The bus is not just a form of transportation. It is a moving community, a safe haven, and a reliable constant in people’s lives. –Elisheba Johnson and Kristen RamirezAs King County Metro prepared to launch six new RapidRide lines between 2021 and 2025, 4Culture engaged Johnson and Ramirez—both artists and public art administrators—to create a cohesive plan to influence the future of the RapidRide experience. Over the course of eight months, they connected with bus drivers, King County Metro Staff, riders, and transit-lovers to inform the plan’s vision and recommendations. They hosted a public event on a Metro bus, during which artists guided meditation, read live poetry, and performed acoustic music. They invited the public and Metro staff to participate in surveys and attend open houses. They rode existing RapidRide lines, toured future lines, and rode the #49 with bus driver, blogger, filmmaker, and published author Nathan Vass. They interviewed Metro’s line leads and bus drivers, visited Metro bus bases and comfort stations, and much more.
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The resulting art plan is thoughtful, layered, and easy to read, featuring playful illustrations by artist and avid bus-rider Aaron Bagley. It articulates a vision and conceptual framework for system-wide and community-specific art integration and intervention, providing through-lines, a cohesive visual language, consistent structure, and narrative for a variety of projects. “Slow down, find stillness and imagine the possibilities,” they write of community with other riders, and the importance of rest, comfort, and kindness.
The plan also provides a project guide with artwork scopes, budgets, and timelines. It’s specific enough to anchor artwork development and broad enough to allow project artists to generate ideas and approaches. It outlines art projects for passenger facilities (such as furnishings), access elements (such as lighting), communications and technology (such as podcasts and limited-edition transit cards), interior and exterior bus designs, driver comfort stops, and more.Ramirez (1971–2021) was a Seattle-based printmaker, painter, and public artist who made work about place and our everyday experiences. Her other 4Culture commissions include Ebb & Flow on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Also based in Seattle, Elisheba Johnson is an artist, curator, and co-founder of Wa Na Wari, a Black arts space in the city’s Central District.
About the Location
Read more about the art and artists at RapidRide. More >