Reigniting A Passion
and Connecting
to the Past

Certificate in Photography graduate Kim Hawk uses her UW education and artistic vision to honor generations of Coast Salish People — and inspires appreciation across King County.

Introduced to photography at 16 years old by way of a Pentax SLR camera, Kim Hawk always had a passion for the arts. But as Kim grew older, her life evolved. She took on more responsibilities, including spending 13 years caring for her mother-in-law, a Suquamish tribal elder. As a result, she drifted away from photography.

After Kim’s mother-in-law passed, she began to search for a way to honor her legacy and their relationship. And that inspired Kim to pick up a camera again. Her passion reignited, she found the UW Certificate in Photography and signed up right away — the first step in re-discovering her artistic voice and creating her “Lineage Project;” an award-winning series of photomurals honoring Suquamish and S’Kallam Elders and inspiring thousands of King County Metro riders throughout Seattle, and beyond.


Although Kim had experience with single-lens reflex cameras and dark rooms, she was eager to bring herself up to date and learn how to use digital technology. But more importantly, the certificate would also allow her to get critique and input from instructors who were world-renowned artists in the field. 

“The University of Washington has this incredible opportunity that you're not going to get anywhere else,” explains Kim. “Someone with a refined eye, who wants you to succeed, will look at your images and help guide you toward capturing the photograph you desire.” 


The guidance and expert knowledge of the certificate instructors directly influenced Kim’s work as a photographer. What’s more, it helped her find her voice.

“When I first joined the program, I didn't have a story to tell that had gelled. My voice was all over the place,” Kim says. “But the class process, hunting down images every week and all that inner reflection brought out my unique voice.”

As her style got more dialed in, Kim’s instructors encouraged her to not only capture great pictures but also to tell a story. “They want you to access your emotional core and bring that forward in your images,” she says. “That got me digging into my life as far as what I have to say. What can I bring forward? What do I love?”

What emerged was the “Lineage Project.” Designed to convey the power of our connection with our past and the people who shape us, the project features portraits of tribal elders holding an image of one of their ancestors in a sacred place that is meaningful to their family. 

photos from the Lineage Project

Photos courtesy of Kim Hawk.

In addition to providing a polished body of work, the project gave Kim new self-knowledge about who she is as an artist, which will continue to influence her and how she sees the world. “Finding the tone and style that reflect you is vitally important for anyone moving forward,” Kim says. “You want people to look at your images and know who you are, and you'll get that in this program.”


When it came time to take her work to the next level, Kim didn’t have to go far for help. Not long after she completed the certificate program, her instructor David Julian encouraged her to enter the “Lineage Project” in the King County Metro City Panorama Project — an effort to bring art into everyday life and to make new perspectives and ideas available to all. Kim submitted her six images and three days later, she got an enthusiastic response from King County.

Seeing my work in public is surreal, wild and exciting. I entered this program and realized a dream.

 — Kim Hawk , Alumna, UW Certificate in Photography

“They wanted all six images and those would appear on murals throughout King County in metro stations, which is far beyond my dreams for what I thought would happen with this project,” says Kim. “I'm so excited that those images will be out in public. My subjects, the wonderful people who sat for me, and their ancestors deserve that spotlight.”

Kim credits her success to her passionate instructors and their belief in their students. Not only did they elevate her work, but they also sought opportunities for her success in the world.

“I don't think in any other situation I can imagine; I would have had the opportunity to build a relationship with someone like my instructor, David Julian,” explains Kim. “That relationship has changed my life. He went out; he saw an opportunity for my photos to be submitted. And now this project is getting public attention in an incredible venue.” 

“Seeing my work in public is surreal, wild and exciting. I entered this program and realized a dream,” Kim adds. “I hope this continues to light a fire in my belly to keep hunting down images that inspire me, tell stories about what I love and make people ponder the beautiful things in life.”