Cynthia Brothers reflects on the politics of art and the art of politics
by George Howland Jr, Contributing Writer
Cynthia Brothers, 36, is an artist and an activist.
The main outlet for her art is Vanishing Seattle, a social media feed of photographs that documents what is being lost as redevelopment tears through the city. Since Vanishing Seattle started two years ago, it has attracted an extraordinary 25,000 followers combined from Instagram and Facebook.
Her main activist project is being part of the Chinatown International District Coalition (CID Coalition), aka Humbows Not Hotels. The CID Coalition is a collective that is fighting to stop the unique Asian American Seattle neighborhood being stripped of its inhabitants and its cultural identity. The CID Coalition is just one year old and has around 15-20 core members, but its community meetings have drawn over 100 people.
In December, I interviewed Brothers about both projects—their significance, their relationship to one another and what the future holds for them. Brothers has a dynamic, articulate understanding of what is happening to Seattle’s communities of color during the Amazon boom. While Brothers is modest about her own achievements, she is clearly a grassroots leader and artistic spark plug in the fight against displacement and gentrification.
George Howland (GH): Please talk about the relationship between Vanishing Seattle and the CID Coalition.
Cynthia Brothers (CB): They are related in a lot of ways. I use a very similar lens with both Vanishing Seattle and CID Coalition—i.e. anti-displacement. With Vanishing Seattle, I am approaching it with a documentation, arts and storytelling perspective. The CID Coalition is doing anti-displacement organizing. There are a lot of similar themes.