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Black-owned Seattle art gallery offering culture, healing space for women and girls

The Seattle area is rich in art with several places for viewing but few of them are Black-owned. WOW, Wonder of Women, features a Black art experience and more.

SEATTLE — Once you enter the doors of Wonder of Women (WOW) you're surrounded by Iconic Black Women, the permanent art installment in the gallery located inside Pacific Palace in downtown Seattle.

The gallery, co-founded by Seattle husband and wife Veronica Very and Hiawatha D., launched the weekend of Juneteenth in 2021. 

"This is legacy work for us," said Very. "The framework for Wonder of Women is love, light, liberation and now legacy.”

Hiawatha D. has been a professional artist since the late '80s, realizing just how impactful it was to paint Black people when he was the lone Black student in his art classes.

The Iconic Black Women installment currently has 55 pieces and Hiawatha D. said it's still growing and will expand.

Among the pieces, there are images of triumph but also tragic moments captured on a canvas.

“This piece was really difficult for me to paint," Hiawatha D. said about the piece he calls "10:22 AM." The painting honors four Black girls killed in the 1963 bombing when white supremacists targeted the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

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“I was thinking about my daughter and my nieces and other small women who did not get a chance to grow up," said Hiawatha D.

When people visit WOW, Very said there is the expected art experience and opportunities for women and girls to recover from trauma through story, reflection and daily therapeutic activities.

The gallery, which houses a former Victoria's Secret store, transformed the dressing rooms into healing suites.

The seven suites focus on the following practices, breathe, write, read, remember, listen, affirm and speak.

“Simple and yet very, very powerful practices that you can incorporate into your life to disrupt trauma emotional and racial traumas," said Very.

WOW is intentionally designed as a safe place for women and girls to gather, share and heal from trauma in their lives. 

"Dear Sistah, I see you" is an exhibition at WOW that encourages women and girls to be seen and heard.

“To be seen really is a mental health campaign," said Very. “I see you. You are not invisible. Your voice is powerful. Your contribution to society is critical.”

To celebrate Black History Month, WOW is hosting a Black Party on Feb. 27. Very said the party will include art, refreshments and conversation. Guests will be asked to wear black.

While the couple is honoring Black History Month, Hiawatha D.  and Very both said Black history is something to always celebrate.

“To create a space that’s so well appreciated by everyone who hears about and who walks through those doorways is beyond me," said Hiawatha D. "It’s special. It’s a lifetime achievement.”


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