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Docents Defined: Nina Vichayapai

Are you a fan of the Seattle Asian Art Museum who loves discussing your favorite artworks? Consider volunteering as a docent at the Asian Art Museum when it reopens later this year! SAM is recruiting new docents to start training to lead tours of the newly installed galleries and you have until May 31 to apply.

Docents bring their unique interests and backgrounds to each tour they lead and that’s what makes them fun and engaging for SAM’s diverse audiences. A docent like Nina didn’t go to museum growing up but later found them to be an important part of her life and started leading tours with SAM to help others become invested in museum visits early in life. Find about more about Nina in the interview below!

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

Nina: I am an artist and studied at an art school in San Francisco. Since I was young, I loved making art and knew I wanted to become an artist. It wasn’t until I was older that I also learned to love looking at art. A huge part of my college education took place at museums and included wonderful opportunities to meet the people who help these spaces function. Growing up I never really visited museums and by the time I became an adult, I somehow fell into the impression that the museum was a space reserved for people unlike me and the stories being told there did not represent mine.

After seeing many different museums, I was blown away by how much these spaces offer our communities. By the time I finished college and decided to move back to Seattle I knew that as much as I wanted to continue making art, I also wanted to find opportunities which would allow me to tap into the joy I have for museums. Becoming a docent with the Seattle Art Museum was really the perfect outlet for that joy. I was especially compelled to become a docent given my previous background of apprehension toward museums. There are many people who avoid museums out of feeling excluded. Having once been one of those people, I have a lot of patience and understanding when it comes to sharing what I think we can all learn from art.

What’s the best part of being a docent?

The best part of being a docent for me is definitely getting to see all the incredible connections people make to their own lives all just from looking at art. I’ve worked primarily with younger students and whether we are looking at a piece from the Pacific Northwest or from somewhere far away, whether it was made last year or hundreds of years ago, I’m always so thrilled to see how quickly the students will begin to relate the work to their own lived experiences.

Another thing I must mention as being a huge highlight is the wealth of resources we have access to! Through the online database, which docents can access, and the library at SAM, there is so much to learn about the art in SAM’s collections. Docents are always contributing to this wealth as well. For any art lover, it’ s really a dream and very fun to get lost in exploring the archives.

What’s your favorite work of art to tour?

My favorite installation to tour is Lessons from the Institute of Empathy. This installation includes the work of Saya Woofalk along with pieces from many other artists, so there is a lot to work within the gallery for the many different tours we do. But what I love most is seeing how students light up when they step into that space. The whole installation really breaks a lot of preconceived ideas about what art and museums are supposed to look like. And the concept of empathy is always one that generates really deep and often touching conversations.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

I gave an Elements of Art tour to a particularly enthusiastic class once. They walked in without much prior experience of talking about art, but by the end of our tour they couldn’t contain their excitement at discovering the different elements we had just discussed in every artwork we passed. It was as if I had revealed a magician’s trick to them and their glee was really contagious!

What advice do you have for people applying for the docent program?

Visit museums! Not just art museums too. Seattle has so many great museums. I think it’s important to get a feel for the culture and approach to education unique to each museum. It helped me understand what qualities I felt were important and how I could bring that to my role as a docent.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

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Muse/News: Summer fun, earthy art, and a wish

SAM News

Heads-up, parents and caregivers: summer in Seattle is upon us! Here’s Elisa Murray for the Seattle Times with great ideas to keep the learning going and keep the fun going while school’s out. She includes Summer at SAM, our annual series of free programming at the Olympic Sculpture Park, held this year July 11 through August 22.

And Artdaily and Patch.com both shared the news about Regina Silveira: Octopus Wrap, the mind-bendingly cool site-specific installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion.

Local News

At this week’s event featuring Tayari Jones (she was AMAZING), Seattle Arts and Lectures announced their exciting 2019-20 lineup, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Min Jin Lee, and Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey.

Musical hooks and a “subtle new take on its sexual politics”: Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert on “Why You Need to See Seattle Opera’s Carmen.”

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis examines the dire news about climate change and looks at how art could be a vital way to confront the challenges ahead.

“It might seem too-little-too-late to argue for sublime beauty in the face of urgent statistics about habitat loss, mass extinctions, droughts, wildfires and coastal erosion. But the introspective state that art is so adept at conjuring might be the only angle from which our modern brains can process and address the monumental facts.”

Inter/National News

Farewell to I.M. Pei, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect who passed away at the age of 102. He designed the glass pyramid entrance of the Louvre in Paris and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The team at Artnet has a gondola-full of reads on the Venice Biennale, including the recent news that Lithuania’s beach-opera installation and Arthur Jafa’s film “The White Album” took the event’s top prizes.

Renée Reizman for Hyperallergic on Dandelions, an installation by the anonymous Los Angeles art collective Art Department that turned a decommissioned substation into “a secret wish-processing facility.”

“The bureaucrat asked more general questions. Could the wish be categorized as altruistic or selfish? Did it pertain to romance or your career?”

And Finally

“We sat them up on chairs, they were smiling for the camera. It was the greatest day of my life.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

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Docents Defined: David Turner

Do you love art and can’t wait to spend loads of time in the Seattle Asian Art Museum when it reopens? We’ve got the volunteer position for you! SAM is recruiting new docents to start training to lead tours of the newly installed galleries and you have until May 31 to apply.

Our docents have a wide range of interests and background. Take David, for instance—he started volunteering to lead tours to get more involved in the arts community and his favorite artwork in the museum changes with every tour! Want to learn more about being a docent? Join SAM staff and current docents at our Docent Open House on May 16, 2019 from 6–7 pm

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

David: It was a way for me to get to be connected with the community when I came to Seattle.

What’s the best part about being leading school tours?

The exposure to the art and interacting with kids. One visit to a museum is never enough to get to understand or enjoy something. My joy in being in the museum comes from close contact with art over a period of time. It’s more meaningful when I can try to engage a group of kids or even adults in responding to an artwork. It’s a challenge, but it’s really a pleasure.

What’s your favorite work of art at SAM?

That changes every tour. I tell every group I take into the galleries, “I’m going to take you to see my favorite piece.” I want to express to kids, and everyone else on my tours, that I have regard for the work. Yesterday, my favorite piece was Market Scene by Paul Bril.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

The emotional response to Marie Watt’s Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations in the Northwest Coast galleries. My take on it has always been that every blanket has a story and Blanket Stories encapsulates the stories of the people who created the materials in the piece. I ask viewers if they have a blanket story and it’s always very moving. It’s a very meaningful moment when they see it’s not just about a blanket, but that this is a collection of human beings’ lives.

What advice do you have for people interested in the docent program?

Be yourself. That’s it! A mistake that’s easy to make is to think that there’s a canned presentation that you’re going to give. Those are not the most interesting tours by any means. When docents have internalized a piece, it makes a big difference in the way the audience that you’re speaking to reacts.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

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Docents Defined: Erin Bruce

SAM is now recruiting new docents to start training for the reopening of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. You don’t need to be an art historian or a teacher to apply! In fact, SAM docents have a variety of interests and experiences. Having a diverse group of docents is how we’re able to offer tours that are engaging to all visitors. Read below and find out more about docents like Erin Bruce who volunteer their time at the museum.

If you still want to learn more about being a docent? Join SAM staff and current docents at our Docent Open House on May 16 from 6–7 pm! Or, apply now to the docent program. Applications are accepted through May 31.

SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to become a docent?

Erin Bruce: I have always been inspired by all things visual, whether it is nature, a building, a room and especially art. I studied art in college and made art whenever possible. Now I am a technical stock trader and rely on charts for my work—more visual interpretation! It was a three-year wait for a new docent class to start for me after a friend told me about SAM. The chance to participate with our museum is an honor.

What’s the best part about being a docent?

The best part is all of it: meeting energetic, generous, knowledgeable people; constant learning; leading a tour of young people and engaging them in the art and history of objects. It’s all gratifying. SAM’s collections are a wondrous gift to our city and special exhibitions join and expand experiences as well.

What is your favorite work of art to tour at the Asian Art Museum?

The Deer Scroll. Calligrapher Koetsu and painter Sotatsu collaborated to create this iconic masterpiece. Our 30 feet of the original 72 feet contains 12 poems from the Shin Kokinshu, which took four years to write. The beauty and harmony transports you to another time and place.

What’s your most memorable touring experience?

Tours were scheduled the week before Mother’s Day so I made a gallery activity “A Gift for Mom.” Given one exhibition room students got to pick an object that they would give to their Mom if they could. It revealed so many wonderful things such as what objects in our Asian art collection young people were most drawn to, what they found beautiful and why. Crafting future tours improved since I had learned some of their favorite objects. The chance to interact with young people is yet another joy and benefit of leading a school tour.

What advice do you have for people applying for the docent program?

Your interests and life experiences offer wonderful and unique perspectives. You will discover and explore the vast and layered connections of art to our lives. It is so much fun.

– Yaoyao Liu, Seattle Asian Art Museum Educator

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Muse/News: Pie art, Seattle style, and obvious plants

SAM News

Lauren Ko creates stunning pie art on her @lokokitchen Instagram—check out the pie she made inspired by SAM’s show! There’s more details here. Get yourself to SAM: Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer closes this Sunday, May 12!

Ring in wedding season—you know you love it!—with this Seattle Bride look at a beautiful wedding at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Aww.

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald takes a look at the new fashion exhibit at MOHAI on—yes, really—Seattle style.

Watch the Seattle Channel’s CityStream story about the forthcoming return of the historic Louisa Hotel, including the fate of their rediscovered Prohibition-era murals.

Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert and Gwendolyn Elliott on Amazon’s internal creative program, Expressions, which gives employees opportunities to get creative.

“Reverberating beyond the badge-required halls of Amazonia is a bigger conversation about the company’s contributions—or lack thereof—to Seattle’s creative community as a whole, considering how much it’s altered the city’s physical and cultural footprint.”

Inter/National News

John Grade does it again: Check out this stunning installation by the artist set in a clearing of an Italian forest, which turns rainwater into the droplets of a natural chandelier.

An appreciation for the “guardian of Black cinema” by the New Yorker’s Doreen St. Felix of the director John Singleton, who passed away this week at the age of 51.

Artnet’s Melissa Smith talks with Black artists about the paradigm shift of increased interest in their work—and the attendant pressures, including stress, burnout, and exploitation.

“Navigating the limited existing roles for [black artists] is exhausting, and never-ending,” Jemison says. “And black artists are very aware that being selected is super arbitrary and predicated on partial understanding of the work.”

And Finally

All Alone Bert. Pre-Cracked Egg. Funeral Kazoo. They’re all an Obvious Plant.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

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Muse/News: First Thursday, drawing darkness, and a monument to Shirley Chisholm

SAM News

The Seattle Times includes this week’s First Thursday on their community calendar; it’ll be the last one at which to see Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer! Don’t miss this exhibition.

SAM is included in this CNN Travel story on Pike Place Market and what to see and do nearby.

Local News

Fill up that calendar: The Seattle Times has collected all the best arts events launching in May.

Lisa Edge of Real Change reviews Soy yo at Vermillion, one of the many satellite shows of yəhaẃ̓; she notes “the works have an overarching theme of the care and nurture that femme and female folks provide.”

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig on Bad Gateway at Bellevue Arts Museum, the first museum exhibition of graphic artist Simon Hanselmann; every single hand-painted page of his forthcoming book will be on view.

“It’s impossible to read the whole story just standing there (though do try, if you wish). But stepping back, you get a sense of the artist’s ambition and vision, his diligence in exploring the dark recesses of his visual imagination.”

Inter/National News

Jets to Dakar! Artsy takes a look inside Kehinde Wiley’s just-launched artist residency in Senegal; called Black Rock, he says it will offer artists “the opportunity to rub up against sameness and difference at once.”

Cartoonist Sarah Glidden draws her obsession with the Guggenheim’s recent Hilma af Klint exhibition, finding a kindred spirit and a dizzying array of insights and questions.

Famous for firsts, the late Shirley Chisholm marks another: the first female historical figure with a public monument in Brooklyn. The New York Times has the details on the design by Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous.

“It allows you to be enveloped in a conversation about interacting and bringing others along. This approach to a monument is that it’s an invitation to participate.”

And Finally

A journalistic project to tuck into (save room for spumoni!).

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Jen Au
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Muse/News: A little Prince, four women, and Beyoncé’s Homecoming

SAM News

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis talks with artist Troy Gua—a SAM Gallery favorite!—about his devotion to depicting Prince (you have GOT to see the closet of tiny Prince outfits). Gua’s work is now on view in Prince from Minneapolis at MoPOP and Le Petit Prince at SAM’s TASTE Café

There’s four more selections in SAM’s British Comedy Classics film series, with a gem being screened every Thursday. The Stranger continues to include the series in their round-up of “Movies Worth Watching in Seattle.” 

Local News

The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig on Mari Nagaoka’s solo show at The Factory, Honey, which features large-scale portraits of queer people within the artist’s community—rendered in ballpoint pen.

Terry Furchgott solo show, Intimate Interiors: Women at Home, is now on view at Harris Harvey Gallery; Real Change’s Lisa Edge talks with the artist about her work depicting women comfortable in their domestic solitude.

The Seattle Times’ Crystal Paul talks with Seattle legend Valerie Curtis-Newton on her direction of the upcoming Seattle Rep play, Nina Simone: Four Women, which imagines a meeting of the four women from Simone’s song.

“I found that in making plays, I get to make community and it can be different kinds of community. But that’s the thing ultimately, to get people to talk about important and difficult issues, by entertaining them and then provoking them.”

Inter/National News

Homecoming, the documentary directed and everything-ed by Beyoncé, hit Netflix this week; the New York Times’ Aisha Harris says the artist “puts herself directly in conversation with voices from black American history.”

The Guggenheim’s groundbreaking Hilma af Klint exhibition closes next Tuesday. Artnet’s Ben Davis reports that the show’s over 600,000 visitors has made it the museum’s most-attended exhibition of all time.

Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire this week; here’s Steven Erlanger on the historical site’s many meanings. And donations skyrocketed for three Black churches destroyed by arson after a signal boost from Yashar Ali.

“It’s universal, Western, religious, literary and cultural, and that’s what makes it different from any other object. It’s the whole spectrum from the trivial to the transcendent, the sacred to the profane.”

And Finally

Consider the Keanu.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of “SAM Gallery Presents: Troy Gua’s Le Petit Prince At TASTE,” photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Muse/News: Punching bags wearing skirts, pet portraits, and multiple voices

SAM News

There’s only a month left to see Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer! Seattle Magazine’s Gavin Borchert celebrates the exhibition’s insistence on blending all kinds of associations.

“You may notice the exquisite, painstaking craftsmanship first, or you may notice that many of the bags now look like they’re wearing skirts.”

SAM’s Chief Conservator Nicholas Dorman spoke with Hyperallergic’s Kealey Boyd for this story on the need for specialized conservators of East Asian art; SAM’s forthcoming Asian Paintings Conservation Center will treat works from its collection and serve other institutions as well.

AFAR’s Alison C. Meier calls The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China one of “10 Incredible U.S. Museum Exhibits to See This Summer.” This immersive, exciting exhibition of contemporary Chinese art debuts at LACMA this summer—and heads to SAM in 2020.

Local News

Crosscut’s Agueda Pacheco Flores on the recently debuted Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery in White Center, which founders Jake Prendez and Judy Avitia-Gonzalez will devote to Latinx art and programs.

And another gallery is on the way out:  Pioneer Square’s Mount Analogue will shutter after its May show—but will “live on as a freewheeling print magazine.”

Our pets are obviously the best. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig talks with several local pet portraitists—including Rebecca Luncan, a preparator and mountmaker at SAM!—who preserve their goodness for all time.

“It’s a funny idea that even in 2019, this medium of representation, of memory, of love is something that people still seek out. That with our smartphones and our ability to capture every aspect of our lives, people still go out of their way to commission portraits of their animal friends.”

Inter/National News

Hyperallergic’s Jasmine Weber on the Musée d’Orsay’s Black Models: from Géricault to Matisse, based on Denise Murrell’s thesis on black models in French art.

Artnet has the stunning images from a newly discovered tomb in the town of Saqqara, south of Cairo; more than 4,000 years old, it’s remarkably well preserved.

The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson reports on the postponement of a major exhibition on Native pottery at the Art Institute of Chicago, due to concerns over a lack of Indigenous perspectives.

“The principal thing that we have not accomplished is to have an aligned indigenous perspective, scholarly and curatorial, with the project,” he said. “And I think that ultimately for us has been the crucial realization that our ability to reflect back what we were learning needed to be done in multiple voices, not just our voice.”

And Finally

I would like to see it: An interview with the first full-time art therapist on staff at a North American museum.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: IF I RULED THE WORLD, 2018, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Cherokee, b. 1972, repurposed punching bag, acrylic felt, glass beads, metal jingles, artificial sinew, and nylon fringe, 79 x 15 x 15 in., Seattle Art Museum, Modern Art Acquisition Fund; by exchange Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection; American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Childe Hassam Fund; Sidney and Anne Gerber; Jan and Gardner Cowles; David Hoberman; Gordon Woodside; Ed Rossbach; Pat Klein and Stephen Wirtz Gallery; Gary Wiggs; Jerome D. Whalen; Karin Webster; Virginia Zabriskie; Dinah James and the Diane Gilson Gallery; Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Weyerhaeuser Davis; Norman and Amelia Davis Collection; Mrs. Will Otto Bell; Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters Award in memory of Eustace P. Ziegler, 1969, 2018.17, © Jeffrey Gibson, photo: Peter Mauney.

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Donor Spotlight: Peggy Carlisle

I made my first trip to China in 1986. I wanted to see China before it changed, I had no idea it would completely alter my life. It opened a world of wonder, curiosity, and endless adventure for me that continues to this day. By 1990 I had become so obsessed that when an opportunity arose to study Asian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, I jumped at it. Since then, I have traveled extensively to see remote areas of Asia and visited hundreds of museums to quell my curiosity.

One of the reasons for my move to Seattle in 2000 was that there was this jewel box museum dedicated entirely to Asian art. There, in that perfect little building was a stunning collection. Many pieces from SAM’s collection had been referenced during my studies in London. And much to my surprise, each time I visited the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the curators had completely rotated the collection to display yet another aspect or region of the collection. In many museums, the collections never rotate and I go back to visit some objects like old friends. At the Asian Art Museum it was always a new wonder and delight.

For so many reasons, it has been my great pleasure to support the continuation of this remarkable institution. And thanks to everyone at the Seattle Art Museum for their enormous contribution to Seattle.

– Peggy Carlisle, SAM Donor

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