2. Song of the Earth, 1998

2. Song of the Earth, 1998

Aki Sogabe's art panels commemorate the history of Japanese-American farmers at Pike Place Market.

Where Is It?

The Song of the Earth art panels are located at the entrance to Pike Place Market, just to the right of Rachel the Piggy Bank. You will find them overhead as part of the ceiling structure.

Location

Pike Place Market
1st Avenue & Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98101, USA

Get the Story

Artist | Date | Medium | Size

Aki Sogabe created “Song of the Earth” using papercutting images which were then transferred to porcelain enamel. Each of the five panels is approximately 5 feet x 3 feet. They were completed in 1998.

More about Song of the Earth

The intent of "Song of the Earth" was to honor and remember the Japanese-American farmers who were forced to leave during World War II, relocated to internment camps, and never returned. Aki Sogabe answered a Call for Artists by the JACL (Japanese American Citizen League/Seattle Chapter) and her work was selected. The project took 1 year to complete. Below are excerpts from her original project proposal.

Song of Earth

"A group of Japanese farmers came to the Puget Sound area and their hard lives began by clearing the land for farming. They cultivated the 'borrowed' land they were not allowed to own themselves."

Song of Farmers

"When the Pike Place Market opened for business, our pioneer farmers were there to sell their produce. . . . I wish to express their joy and happiness of harvest time. This entry depicts the scene of farmer families working the field."

Song of Joy

"When the Public Market opened for business in 1907, the farmers brought their produce to sell and they became popular because their vegetables were fresh and priced low. . . . They worked hard and enjoyed their farm life until the start of WW II. 'Song of Joy' will be a picture of farmers selling their produce at the Market with their happy faces."

Song of Sorrow

"Japanese farmers' sorrow started in December 1941. The Sanitary Public Market was destroyed by a fire. The cause of the fire was never determined, but rumors of Japanese involvement because of Pearl Harbor were spread. In April 1942, Seattle's Japanese families received orders to pack up and were interned to Camp Harmony on Puyallup. 'Song of Sorrow' will have 2 items. One scene will show the Market with empty stalls and second scene will show empty farm with no one around."

Song of Memory

"After the war, less than two third of evacuated Japanese returned to Seattle area and only a few number of valley farmers recovered their land and returned to the Market. 'Song of Memory' will be a scene of Japanese farmers' faces with expression of recalling the good old days and with hope of brighter future."

About the Artist

About Aki Sogabe

Aki Sogabe was born in Japan, lives in Bellevue, WA, and specializes in papercutting art. Pike Place Market is her favorite landmark in Seattle.

Artist Statement

"There are no Japanese farmers in the Pike Place Market now, but I feel their pioneer spirits are still there. I believe we must not forget their hard work and their joy. The songs represent the voices of the Japanese American farmers with their memories and messages that they wanted to leave for us, the new generation."

Directions to the NEXT STOP

By ELEVATOR:

Look up and to your right to spot the large neon arrow that says "Rotary Grocery." A little behind it, you will see a smaller white sign pointing in the same direction to the elevator. Follow the arrows past the few vendors and back into the green elevator lobby. Take the elevator to "1R" (to Western Ave). When you get off the elevator, turn left and you will see "Billie the Piggy Bank."

By STAIRS:

While facing the Song of the Earth art panels, you will see a set of stairs just ahead of you labeled "To Lower Market Levels." These are the Pike Place Hillclimb stairs. Follow them all the way down to Western Avenue (six levels), making sure to look up at the unusual light fixtures on the way. Once you reach Western Avenue, turn right and walk until you reach "Billie the Piggy Bank."