All posts in “Amy Sherald”

Volunteer Spotlight: Jody Tate

Did you know that many of Seattle Art Museum’s day-to-day operations rely on the commitment and knowledge of volunteers? When Jody Tate began volunteering three years ago, he dreaded being asked what to see while visiting the museum. Now he enjoys asking questions to help people define their own interests in art and connect to art that they will think about for the rest of their lives! Our Manager of Volunteers asked Jody some questions so you can get to know him and learn more about the important role of SAM’s volunteers.
SAM: What is your current role?
Jody Tate: I’m a SAMbassador and very excited this year to be Vice Chair of the SAM Volunteer Association Executive Committee.
How long have you been volunteering at SAM?
Roughly three years. I had a year-long stint around 2010 and then started up again in 2016.
Why is SAM important to you?
SAM has the most historically diverse range of culturally significant artifacts in all of Seattle—where else under one roof can you see a painting by Amy Sherald, a sculpture by Cy Twombly, and Coast Salish art?
What is one of your favorite artworks in SAM’s collection, and why?
One of many favorites is Mann und Maus. I’ve had more conversations about it than anything else. It’s both approachable and petrifying. Some children toddle up exclaiming to a parent they’ve found Mickey Mouse, while some adults call it a nightmare rat. As for me, I can’t see it and not think of the Holocaust. Nazi propaganda depicted Jews as mice (if you haven’t read Art Spiegelman’s Maus, you should) and Auschwitz’s gas chambers used Zyklon B, a pesticide. If we set aside historical atrocities for a moment, my favorite response to Mann und Maus was a little girl who told her father firmly: “Too big.”
When not at SAM, what do you do for fun?
I like to read (just about anything), write (poetry), cook, and just wander the city on foot.
What is something that most people might not immediately know about you?
In a former life, I was an academic. I did a PhD on Shakespeare at the University of Washington. Also, when I was supposed to be finishing that PhD, I procrastinated by editing a collection of essays on the band Radiohead.
What is a simple hack, trick, or advice that you’ve used over time to help you better fulfill your role?
I think some of the best SAMbassadors I’ve shadowed know how to ask questions that can help a patron begin answering her own questions. For example, an open-ended question I dreaded when I started volunteering was, “Where should I start?” Instead of having a rehearsed answer that’s one-size-fits-all, asking a patron what they’re interested in helps me come up with a possible starting point for a more personalized experience in the museum.
– Danie Alliance, Manager of Volunteer Programs
Photo: Natali Wiseman
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Muse/News: Peacock struts, Saint Woman commands, and the pumpkin dances

SAM News

Peacock in the Desert continues to strut:

The exhibition was included in The New York Times’ overview of “Art to See This Fall,” which says it’s “the next best thing to visiting the clifftop Mehrangarh Fort Museum overlooking Jodhpur.”

It was king of KING, with segments on the station’s Evening Magazine and New Day NW—the latter featured an interview with His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II and his daughter Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye.

And reviews for the show ran in The International Examiner, Crosscut, The Daily, and The Spectator.

“Spanning five centuries, Peacock is an eye-popping look at a royal-family legacy. It uses video, audio and room-filling installations, along with dozens of fantastically detailed paintings (magnifying glasses are provided so you can study them closely), to immerse you in its world.”  —Michael Upchurch, Crosscut

Also: You may have seen Amy Sherald’s Saint Woman on the cover of this week’s Real Change (cash or Venmo accepted!); reporter Lisa Edge reviews the SAM show In This Imperfect Present Moment for this week’s centerpiece story.

“’It’s like she’s thinking about something else. She’s in command of her own space. Her own time,’ said curator Pam McClusky.”

Seattle Magazine’s annual list of the city’s movers and shakers is out—and Priya Frank, SAM’s Associate Director of Community Partnerships, is on it! She’s named “one to watch”—we couldn’t agree more. Congrats, Priya!

Local News

Very sad news: Yoko Ott, an artist and curator with connections to numerous Seattle organizations, died last week at the age of 47.

Tschabalala Self! That, and other offerings, are part of the exciting lineup coming up at the Frye Art Museum announced this week.

Sharon Salyer of The Everett Herald speaks with artist Romson Regarde Bustillo about his show on view at Edmonds Community College that asks, “what’s in a name?”

“’Art is information as much as it is something inexplicable,’ Bustillo said. ‘When we look at it, we have an emotional and a visceral reaction, but it is not removed from the way we’ve been conditioned to process information.’”

Inter/National News

Oh, Canada. Smithsonian Magazine reports on the latest humane news from our northern neighbor: Doctors in Montreal will soon be able to prescribe museum visits to their patients.

And in Germany, museums are the subject of a TV show. It will feature noted creatives—like Vivienne Westwood and Karl Ove Knausgård—leading tours in inside eight historic European museums.

And come through, America (well, NYC)!: The just-released budget for the city features a record-breaking $198.4 million for cultural organizations.

And Finally

It’s a Halloween tradition! To all you ghouls and goblins, I present: The Pumpkin Dance.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: His Highness Maharaja GajSingh II of Marwar-Jodhpur and Baijilal Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur in Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Stephanie Fink.
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Amy Sherald’s Archetypes: In This Imperfect Present Moment

Unless you’re looking at this image on a gigantic screen with perfect resolution, you’re missing the impact of this Saint Woman. She’s slightly larger than life, which fits the premise of the artist who elevates her subjects to a status that goes beyond our normal vision. Amy Sherald paints portraits that are not trying to convince you they are a substitute for the actual person. Instead, she paints archetypes. She is taking the time to change our minds about what a portrait can be, an evocation of a saint whose name you do not know, but who is standing and waiting for you to recognize them.

This saint is surrounded by a halo of what may appear as bright yellow on your screen. If you’re just seeing a flat expanse of color, you’re missing the depth of a painted surface that is full of nuance, with swirling dimensions that activate this setting. The same nuances of color are true of the skin, which is in variations of gray. Amy Sherald chose this color shift for a reason, “to exclude the idea of color as race.” She also has this woman’s body face forward, while her head is turned in profile. What captures her attention is unknown, and it challenges you to wonder why she’s holding herself so still while her dress is blown in a breeze of urgency. It’s the stance of a saint who’s worth coming to see in person. Visit her with a trip to see In This Imperfect Present Moment, an installation of artworks by 15 artists conveying vibrant narratives that resonate across global boundaries.

– Pam McClusky, SAM’s Curator of African and Oceanic Art

Images: Saint Woman, 2015, Amy Sherald, American, b. 1973, Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 in., Private collection, photo courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Installation view of In This Imperfect Present Moment at Seattle Art Museum. 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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