TriMet has chosen Sarah Farahat, an interdisciplinary Egyptian American artist and educator, for the Tribute Wall at the Hollywood Transit Station.
The project is intended to honor those who lost their lives in the May 26, 2017 attack on a MAX train, as well as recognize the courage of those who were targeted by and stood up to hatred and violence, TriMet says.
"I am deeply honored that the committee and TriMet have entrusted this project into our care. I look forward to sharing more about the project in the coming weeks after speaking in depth with the review committee. I have a very committed team of artists, educators and activists that will come together in the next few months to not only create a beautiful memorial, but also to cultivate further understanding across differences to celebrate our city's richly diverse cultural heritage, and to demonstrate the fierce love that Portlanders are learning to show for each other in these difficult times," said Farahat, who will lead a team of artists to transform nearly 2,000 feet of wall space at the center into a vibrant tribute reflecting the spirit of the heartfelt messages and images that family, friends and strangers had created on the walls in the wake of the incident.
The announcement was made Thursday afternoon at the center. Farahat was chosen by the Hollywood Transit Center Tribute Wall Advisory Committee after the four finalists made their final presentations on Wednesday. Although Farahat, like the other finalists, provided a conceptual rendering for the project, she and her team will receive input from the advisory committee and impacted family members in creating the final design.
All concept art presented Wednesday made extensive use of color. Several also made reference to last words of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, who was one of the victims: "Tell everyone on this train I love them."
The most common overarching theme hof the submissions was community, moving forward — what's the city and the community doing to acknowledge it, but also move forward in a positive direction to say no to hate, said committee member Mohamed Alyajouri, of the Muslim Educational Trust, a member of the advisory committee.
Trimet will observe a remembrance day May 26. A separate plaque remembering the victims will be in place at that time, but the artwork for it will be created on a longer timeline.
The other three finalist were:
• Julie Keefe, Mic Crenshaw and Larry Yes
• Rather Severe (muralists Travis Czehalski and Jon Strommel)
• Zach Yarrington
TriMet is planning to have the project finished by May 26, 2018, the one-year anniversary of the attack.
Farahat holds a B.A. in Psychology from Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, a B.F.A. in Intermedia Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon and an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California. According to TriMet, her work, grounded in grassroots activism, explores the location of the body within sociopolitical landscapes.
Jeremy Christian is charged with numerous crimes, including murder, in the attack. It happened after other riders on a MAX train came to the defense of two girls he was verbally assaulting, including one wering a hijab. Christian pulled out a knife and stabbed and Namkai-Meche and Rick John Best to death. He also seriously wounded Micah David-Cole Fletcher.
Christian has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for June 24, 2019.
The MAX train stopped at the Hollywood Transit Center after the attack. Over the following days, a spontaneous memorial was created by the public at the station, including tributes to the victims on its walls.
TriMet says that after conferring with the families of those involved, the agency decided to put a commemorative plaque at the center. It will be 4 feet by 6 feet, made of porcelain enamel on steel, and include descriptive words that honor the three men and the two women, along with images of the original memorial.
Writer, designer, editor and typographer John Laursen was seelcted to design the artwork. For four decades, his Portland studio has specialized in the design and production of books and text-based public art projects, including memorials. He will work directly with the families and others to create it.
You can learn more about the project at trimet.org/tribute.
You can learn more about farahat at www.sarahfarahat.com.