Mural showing a young Black man wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt looking at a wall of anti-racism protest signs
Media Caption
One of the temporary murals at the Federal Way Link light rail construction site.

Community comes together to support artists in Federal Way

After acts of vandalism, repaired murals are being installed at light rail construction site in Federal Way

Publish Date

Sound Transit urges anyone with information about recent vandalism of community murals at our construction site in Federal Way to connect with us to help bring the vandals to justice.

The murals are part of a program to help build community connections during construction of the Federal Way Link Extension opening in 2024.

Several of the 35 temporary murals attached to construction fencing near the Federal Way Transit Center were slashed. Many of the murals feature people of color, and the vandalism is suspected to be motivated by racism. 

“The artists created these beautiful murals to celebrate communities in Federal Way and South King County, and we call on the community to support the artists and their artistic expressions,” said Sound Transit Executive Director of Design, Engineering and Construction Ron Lewis.

If you know anything about these cowardly acts, please text our Security Desk at 206-398-5268 or email security@soundtransit.org.

The Sound Transit Art (STart) program enlisted local artists to create more than 100 murals. About 40 of these unique pieces of public art were installed in August, with more planned to go up in September.

Sound Transit is restoring the damaged artwork and taking measures, including potential security and surveillance, to prevent any further disgraceful acts.

"I enjoy making public art because it lives in open spaces where the entire community can enjoy it. Unfortunately, vandalism is the downside of creating public art. This is not the first time my work, that often centers on black subjects, has been slashed,” said artist Jasmine Iona Brown. “Harsh realities like this are disappointing, but it only strengthens my resolve to continue creating this work. My art is my protest against injustice and inequality. Many thanks to Sound Transit and the other artists for their continued efforts on this project."

Hear more from Sarah Kavage, our Federal Way Link Extension artist-in-residence, and one of the featured artists, Toka Valu, in this video, filmed before and during the mural installation:

“I came into this realm of temporary public art as a starry eyed, full of enthusiasm kid from the islands as my mom used to say. That kid was definitely deflated and awakened following the distasteful slashing of the murals,” Valu said. “However, this act only affirmed for me how important this work is in the continued dialogue and advocacy for communities like the one I come from is. I'm proud to continue working alongside these artists and that Sound Transit stands firmly behind the work of its creative partners in times like these.”

A mural by Tiffany Hammonds is displayed on a construction fence.
Each canvas mural is five feet high and 10 feet wide, including this piece by Tiffany Hammonds.
Three Sound Transit employees in orange vests install colorful murals on blue construction fencing.
These photos depict the initial installation of the murals on Aug. 17. The acts of vandalism were discovered a few days later.

“The artists are really connected to this area. Some live nearby, and some are involved in community groups,” Kavage said.

Before the vandalism, she noted that “we hope folks see this work and are proud, and that they see themselves reflected.”

A woman in an orange vest and sun hat attaches a colorful mural depicting coral and fish to a construction fence.
Sound Transit artist-in-residence helps with the installation of a mural at the future Federal Way Link light rail station.

Each mural is unique and designed to add color and positive energy to the surrounding streetscape, while highlighting South King County communities.

The artists were asked to engage the community in the creation of their murals, from group painting events to online and social media activity.

Here’s the roster of artists included in the mural program at Federal Way and Kent:

Brown is a Tacoma-based visual artist, exhibiting painter, and designer.  Her focus on community character lead her to a series of Northwest inspired images.

Iida is a visual artist working with large scale paper cut-outs; this work is printed from an actual large-scale paper cut stencil in black and white. The objects in the net were contributed by people in the Northwest Japanese and Cambodian communities.

Valu is an artist, designer, and co-founder of the Youth Advocacy group Our Future Matters, and lives in SeaTac. He collaborated with young people from the Pacific Islander community in a group process to create his murals.

johnson is a self-taught exhibiting interdisciplinary artist, living in Federal Way. In addition to his “Our Federal Way” murals with interlocking hands, barry requested photographs from community members in order to paint their portraits.

Al-Dhaher is a classically trained sculptor and painter, who teaches art at the Pratt Fine Arts Center. He incorporated contributions from children from around the world in his murals.

Hammonds is a Tacoma-based muralist, artist, and youth advocate based at Fab 5 Studios. Her murals feature numerous faces in a rainbow of colors, reflecting on the connections between color and emotion.

Back to The Platform