What is it about Silk Roads history and art that interests so many people? In the late 19th century, German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term ‘Silk Road’ or ‘Silk Routes’ as part of his map-making efforts. After all, better maps of travel routes had commercial value for access to coal or building railroads, for instance. In the early 20th century, several spectacular “discoveries” (ie, new to the West) of magnificent troves of art and manuscripts in Central Asia and western China fueled the fascination.
Now the plural ‘Silk Roads’ is used to better describe the many
complex historic trade routes through the Eurasian continent. The idea of
commercial exchange across a continent that involved interactions of many cultures,
languages, religions, and arts can be such an appealing picture of cosmopolitan
societies—in contrast to present-day tensions at home and abroad. “Silk Road
nostalgia” refers to interpreting this history in the imagination as a time of
tolerance and international understanding as well as prosperity, rooted in hope
for peaceful and respectful global exchange in future.
The fall Saturday University Lecture Series, Silk Roads Past and Present: From Ancient Afghan Treasure to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, presents current understandings in seven lectures. Beginning with a talk on the Begram Hoard excavated in Afghanistan, we consider how these storerooms from the first century CE could contain Roman glass, Chinese lacquer, and extraordinarily carved ivories from India. A talk on Maritime Silk Roads explores the shipping that actually transported more goods than overland routes, despite the persistent image of camel caravans.
The Silk Roads also saw the spread of Buddhism, and two speakers explore Buddhist art in China. Two lesser-known religions are introduced in a talk on Zoroastrian and Manichaean arts. And what about silk? Find out about silk and fashion in Tang Dynasty China, as trade made new textile technologies, colors, and patterns available. The series concludes with a talk on China’s current international initiative also referred to as the New Silk Road. Please join us!
– Sarah Loudon,Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas
Image: Mogao Cave 237. Image courtesy of the Dunhuang Academy, photo: Zhang Weiwen.
In addition to their
booth-to-booth coverage of this past weekend’s Seattle Art Fair, Crosscut has
pieces by Emily Pothast and Margo Vansynghel examining the various outcomes of the Fair on
the local art scene.
“The festival will
highlight ‘artist-driven portraits of identity,’ which will take many forms
including visual art and performance, according to co-curator and dance artist
David Rue. ‘We’re using this approach so that artists can provide a
counterpoint to the dominant narrative told about people that look like them
while celebrating the power of culturally responsive rigor.’”
“What Does Radical Love Look Like?” Hyperallergic’s Seph Rodney explores that
question at the Ford Foundation Gallery’s latest show, featuring work by
Athi-Patra Ruga, Lina Puerta, and Ebony G. Patterson.
‘”This is someone
becoming — finding themselves, finding their voice, finding their practice,’
Ms. LaBouvier said. ‘I didn’t want to make him into a myth, or make him into a
sort of trauma-porn story either. And I thought the best way to do that was to
take a step back and let him speak for himself.’”
to Marvin Oliver, artist and professor emeritus at the University of
Washington, who died this week at the age of 73.
“’We have lost an amazing mentor and elder in our community and his
legacy will live on,’ Olsen said. ‘And those of us who understand his vision
and mission to support the Native students and enhance the visibility of Native
art and culture will make him and keep him proud and forge on with his
creates a stunning dialogue between the historical ‘porcelain room’ and our
modern attempt to reckon with the colonialism and institutional racism that
necessitated the creation of these beautiful objects.”
“Obviously, Transforest can’t capture certain things about trees—their smell, the
sound of leaves rustling in the wind, their sense of knowing. But as I stood
underneath it, sweating under all that sun, trying to figure out this
sculpture, I realized I was missing something simple, easily capture-able about
saturated color and minute detail, the works sit in bold contrast to the
zeitgeisty minimalism and pastel palettes of the past few years. It’s a rather
refreshing aesthetic twist, and a veritable feast for the eyes.”
An SOS, a lofty reminder, a memento mori: Crosscut’s Brangien
Davis visits Ted Youngs’ new Smoke Season
installation and looks at some other trees in art, including John Grade’s Middle Fork at SAM and the Neukom
Vivarium at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
“They peer up at the tree, which stands parallel to the Space
Needle — one conceived as a beacon of humanity’s bright future, the other
an urgent message from the here and now.”
at a collection more freely and greedily than most of us, from odd angles. They
often ferret out neglected or eccentric treasures, highlighting what museums
have but aren’t using; they can also reveal a collection’s weaknesses, its
biases and blind spots.”
We believe art is for everyone and right now everyone can experience a new kinetic sound sculpture installed at SAM’s 1st and Union entrance. Playing music, projecting poetry, and covered in the text, drawings, and collage by artists with lived experiences of homeless, Hear & Now is a collaboration between internationally celebrated artist, composer, and musician Trimpin and Path with Art students presented for you to view for free!
Built from an antique hand-pulled wagon originally built by Trimpin’s father in Germany, the work is activated by pressing the play button situated next to the object. Each tap triggers a different musical composition or poem created in collaboration with teaching artists. Hear & Now is free and accessible to all and will be on view through July 15. Visit the entire museum for free on Thursday, June 6, and catch the Hear & Now Performances and Artist Talkback taking place 6–8:30 pm featuring pop-up performances by the student artists, a movement piece directed by Rachel Brumer and Monique Holt accompanied by the musical compositions played by the sculpture, and a chance to hear from Trimpin.
Get primed for Thursday evening with this
interview with Trimpin and a Path with Art student artist.
How did you start working with Path with Art?
Five years ago, I was Composer in Residence with the Seattle Symphony
Orchestra. The last year of the three-year residency involves a public-outreach
workshop. I decided to work with a group of Path with Art student artists. I
was first introduced to Path with Art at a performance at the Hugo House; I was
impressed with the artistic caliber of all the performing artists.
Tyler Marcil: Jennifer Lobsenz, the Program Director at the time, asked me to participate in this project in the summer of 2017. We worked with Christina Orbe for six weeks and Yonnas Getahun for two weeks over the course of eight workshops at Trimpin’s studio.
During these workshops, we created found poetry – I had never
done anything quite like that before. I took a story that I had already written
called, “The Woman on the Sidewalk,” and pulled words from that story to create
new poems for the sculpture. A year later, I was invited to record work for
Path with Art at Jack Straw Cultural Center.
What is the significance of the wagon wheel as a foundation
for the sculpture? How does it relate to experiences of homelessness?
When I was beginning to conceptualize the interdisciplinary workshop, mobility
and transition was a major consideration. Aware that most homeless people are
in continual transition, the wagon-wheel was a starting platform to build up
the story, not just metaphorically, but literally as a sound object which is
mobile. It is similar to the way the wagon was used in my family to haul a
variety of items around, and I still remember watching my father when he was
building the wagon from scratch.
How did the artists collaborate on the creation of the final
Tyler: The first group to meet was our group—the poets. The visual artists then took the found poems we created, turning these magnificent words into different pieces of art. Then the musicians came and made compositions inspired by the language and the artwork.
Hear & Now allowed many people to contribute their skills to this larger
project. The people who were involved all have different ways of expressing
themselves. Through this project, their voices are heard, and they are able to
speak from their soul through their medium. Without this
opportunity, they might feel silenced—without a voice, or without their voices
Can you share a moment of discovery or breakthrough in the
process that left an impression on you? Why did that moment stand out to you?
Artists in general are not collaborating with other artists very often. A part
of the workshop was to teach each student that we don’t have to compete with
each other; and we actually can work together and contribute each individual’s
expertise to make the project successful. This process was very important to me
and the project would not exist without the great commitment and interaction of
each individual student.
Tyler: I don’t like hearing my own voice. When we were recording our stories at Jack Straw I could feel my heart racing because it’s a voice that my mother created by teaching us to speak a certain way. I could hear the –eds and the –ings. Those were important in my household growing up.
When I was forced that day to listen to my voice I cried inside
because I realized—my voice is beautiful. And had I known that it was
beautiful, I would have listened all along. And now when I ask people, what
is it about my stories or poetry that you like? They tell me, it’s your voice.
What do you hope the sculpture can inspire in a viewer?
My hope is that the viewer can hear and see that a group of Path with Art
student artists—adults—who have lived the experience of homelessness, addiction
or other trauma, have earned the ability, knowledge, and imagination to
collaborate, design, write, and compose and to achieve a project at this high
Tyler: I hope that Hear & Now will bring awareness of people who have lived experience of homelessness. That the person living that experience could be you. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be prejudiced, or disown others as though they don’t exist.
And I think by having a sculpture that shares these wonderful
voices, not only are you hearing their voices, but your hearing that they’re a
person. The voice you hear is coming from them, from their humanity.
How does the upcoming performance connect to the sculpture?
For the upcoming performance, the students are performing live, interacting
with the instrumentation of the wagon with their own voice or instrument.
Tyler: It ties together these themes of voicelessness and visibility for those experiencing homelessness. It connects to the sculpture because it’s using American Sign Language to present stories for those who cannot hear or speak, and ties in this concept communicating in different ways—with our voices, but also with our hands. This whole project is about lifting up those who have so often been silenced, and widening our circles of empathy and understanding, and the performance brings together both people with lived experience, and those without while exploring these themes.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM Content Strategist & Social Media Manager
Images: Installation view Hear & Now at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photos: Natali Wiseman.
Path with Art would like to extend a special thank you to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods for making this project possible.
“They always say ‘this is so great’ or ‘this is so wonderful,’” Johnson
shared. “The first couple times it happened I said ‘you haven’t seen anything
yet.’ They say ‘no, this is here.’ It’s just something about being able to walk
into a space and know that it’s a cultural center for Black people that feels
embodied as soon as you go through the entryway.”
“For many reasons,
protest is a logical direction for art right now. There is still no federal law
prohibiting discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q.+ people on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity (although some states and cities have enacted
laws prohibiting it). Trans women continue to be victims of violence. The rate
of new H.I.V./AIDS transmission among gay black men remains high. And
the impulse within the gay mainstream to accommodate and assimilate is by now
deeply ingrained. The time has come to hear Sylvia Rivera calling us out
As a person who has taken IKEA desks and Christmas trees on Seattle buses, I am here for this.
“But there is nothing supernatural or sacred here. We have the deepest
feelings for light because it powers the processes that result in the wine we
drink, the books we read, the park-bench kisses we enjoy all through the
“Chicago is a city
full of hope about shifting histories and moving toward equity, and the fact
that the new mayor wanted a work of art about that says a lot,” Gass added. “We
believe in the power of art to help shift perspectives, and hopefully the map
in the office will help do that.”
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.
“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.”
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.