June 19 – August 1 2014


The Tacoma(253) project is a civic love-affair for photographer Jesse Michener showcasing 253 images of the people and places she calls home. Born and raised in Tacoma, Michener says, “I can’t wait to share my love for Tacoma through the people, places and spaces I’ve called home most of my life. I’ve lived elsewhere, but chose to come back to this city because it’s so special.” Michener’s photography has been featured nationally and she regularly photographs for area organizations and foundations in the Puget Sound region. For this project, she won a Spark Grant Award from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation in 2013. 

A grant program designed to help bring people-powered ideas to life within Pierce County, Spark Grants are not a typical grant because they are designed to support everyday people who want to spark positive change. The program leverages $1,500 “micro-grants” to fuel go-getters, grassroots organizers and connoisseurs of community who have great ideas on how to make their neighborhood a better place. 

For her part, Michener believes the arts serve as a simple reminder that no one is truly alone. “Art, no matter the genre, spans distance, time and culture, connecting us to what it means to be human.” Photography, in particular, Michener explains, shines a unique light on the events, the people and the places that define us. “Captured in fractions of a second, photographic stories can unfold without the barrier of language to weigh it down.” 

Through her visual storytelling, Michener hopes people who engage the project will see themes of beauty, of struggle, of what it means to be happy and how we can better take care of each other. “It’s a project of hope for a city yearning to break free from a tired reputation while still holding on to the essence of where it’s been.”