All posts in “Betty Bowen Award”

Muse/News: A SAM award-winner, kinesthetic truth, and art goes lunar

SAM News

This week, the Seattle Times shared SAM’s news that multidisciplinary artist Natalie Ball is the winner of the 2018 Betty Bowen Award. Ball approaches her sculptural work through the lens of auto-ethnography. Look out for the artist’s solo exhibition at SAM in spring 2019.

Our major fall exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, is among the highlights in Zoe Sayler’s Seattle Times story on the upcoming visual arts season that promises “something for everyone.”

SAM participated in an important research collaboration between Artnet and In Other Words, exploring in-depth how institutions have—or have not—moved the needle on showing and buying art by Black artists.

RIP to the legendary architect Robert Venturi; he and his wife, Denise Scott Brown, designed the 1991 downtown Seattle Art Museum building.

Local News

Dance critic Sandra Kurtz previews Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Jerome Robbins Festival for Seattle Weekly, noting the iconic choreographer’s “kinesthetic truth.”

Seattle Eater reports: Food science nerd Nathan Myhrvold, creator of the Modernist Cuisine cookbooks, is opening a food photography gallery in SAM’s neighborhood.

Margo Vansynghel of City Arts spoke with artist Lawrence Pitre about community, the Central District, and his new narrative painting series We Are One at 4Culture.

“I knew the Central Area had been going through a lot of urban renewal. I went to see the Migration Series at the Seattle Art Museum and thought, I could do a series capturing urban life, showing the historical legacy of the Central Area.”

(Inter)National News

Just in time for the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 financial meltdown, a 26-foot-tall painted steel rose by German artist Isa Genzken has been installed in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, intending to inspire empathy and equality.

Speaking of the financial breakdown, the New York Times’ Scott Reyburn explores why “the art market remains one of the most glaringly visible symptoms of global income inequality.”

Artsy’s Scott Indrisek on photographer Robert Frank’s game-changing photography book The Americans, and why the monograph—turning 60 years old—matters today.

“’Frank revealed a people who were plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians, and also rendered increasingly numb by the rising culture of consumerism,’ Greenough noted. ‘But it’s also important to point out that he found new areas of beauty in those simple, overlooked corners of American life—in diners, or on the street.’”

And Finally

“Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go the moon.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Portrait of Natalie Ball by Greg Wahl-Stephens, courtesy of the artist.
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Muse/News: SAM on The Advocate, what libraries can do, and a farewell to Gold

SAM News

Project 42: Jono Vaughan is featured on The Advocate! Their post includes the SAM-produced video featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Jono Vaughan in her studio and moments from the pop-up performances held throughout the show’s run. Catch the solo exhibition of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award-winner before it closes on Sunday, August 5.

“A vast and at times splendid show.” Margo Vansynghel of City Arts reviews Double Exposure, exploring its themes of flux, ambivalence, and narrative ownership.

And Frank Catalano of Geekwire explores three examples of how museums are incorporating virtual and augmented reality, including “mesmerizing” examples at Double Exposure.

Local News

Michael Upchurch of Crosscut on what Mickalene Thomas’s mother said that will make you cry at the Henry Art Gallery’s current exhibition.

If you enjoyed the schooling provided by #LibraryTwitter last week, don’t miss Ambreen Ali’s story for Seattle Magazine on how the Seattle Public Library has reinvented itself to be “the community’s great equalizer.”

Cultured Magazine interviews director Nato Thompson on what to expect at the Seattle Art Fair’s fourth edition.

“I feel like this fair will demonstrate a unique blend of sardonic humor, dystopic futurism, historical imagination, indigenous radicalism and a homespun dreaminess.”

Inter/National News

Zachary Small of Hyperallergic reports on the controversy surrounding a Vogue Paris fashion editorial by Juergen Teller that uses the signature aesthetic of Mickalene Thomas.

Lou Cornum for Art in America reviews On Whiteness, the Kitchen’s current show created in collaboration with Claudia Rankine’s Racial Imaginary Institute.

RIP to the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold; Janelle Zara of Artnet offers this remembrance that reminds us that Gold’s poetic writing was partly informed by experiences as a performance artist.

“I had fully intended that, in fact, I would kill the chicken in the midst of this performance. But chickens aren’t that stupid.”

And Finally

If Timothée Chalamet had posed for Caravaggio.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

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Memorializing Trans Lives in Project 42 at SAM

At the center of Project 42: Jono Vaughan stands an elaborate dress with a 25-foot-long train hanging down from the ceiling. Created for the 2017 Betty Bowen Award winner installation at SAM, it is one of artist Jono Vaughan’s most ambitious pieces in the series that will eventually include 42 garments memorializing murdered trans individuals.

Seattle-based artist Jono Vaughan made this particular garment in collaboration with Lesley Dill in memory of Lorena Escalera Xtravaganza. Created using a vintage victorian form for a bustle, the train is covered in a reorganized poem by Emily Dickinson. Lesley Dill selected “The Soul Has Bandaged Moments” and stenciled it by hand as she rearranged the text and broke stanzas.

“Lesley was an inspiration to me and to Project 42,” says Jono Vaughan. “As a docent at the the Orlando Museum of Art I toured a dress of Lesley’s and it left a big impact on me. As a printer, it’s my job to replicate the hand of the artist who intentionally hand-stenciled the text, rather than digitally reproducing it.” Look closely and you’ll see the pen strokes of Lesley Dill’s process. What you won’t see when you visit, is the embroidery on the interior of the garment that Jono has created just for Lorena that is meant to convey her inner life and extravagance.

Lesley Dill says that she works with Emily Dickinson’s text often because “Dickinson’s writing is the door I walked through to become an artist.” After reciting a stanza of this specific poem over the phone she continues to explain: “It’s a gothic poem and speaks of a poetic persona whose identity is haunted and exhilarated. A large part of the entire Project 42 is about the vivacity of life and bandages of the soul. I feel that Lorena and the project are deserving of intensity and multiple layers of meaning.”

Formatted on the train of the garment in the gallery the poem is difficult to read so we’re sharing it here for you.

The Soul Has Bandaged Moments

The Soul has Bandaged moments –
When too appalled to stir –
She feels some ghastly Fright come up
And stop to look at her –
Salute her, with long fingers –
Caress her freezing hair –
Sip, Goblin, from the very lips
The Lover – hovered – o’er –
Unworthy, that a thought so mean
Accost a Theme – so – fair –
The soul has moments of escape –
When bursting all the doors –
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings opon the Hours,
As do the Bee – delirious borne –
Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
Touch Liberty – then know no more –
But Noon, and Paradise
The Soul’s retaken moments –
When, Felon led along,
With shackles on the plumed feet,
And staples, in the song,
The Horror welcomes her, again,
These, are not brayed of Tongue –
– Emily Dickinson [1]
A large part of Jono’s collaborative process involves asking her collaborators to research the individual being memorialized. The process left Lesley Dill reflecting that “Lorena Xtravaganza was trying to find and name her true self in a world that had no room for this search. Her murder is a catastrophe of culture. Jono is giving us a chance to memorialize individuals who wanted to simply exist inside of their nature. When our culture murders trans people, I feel our belief in human goodness is wounded. With Jono’s work we are given new faith, we are reinvesting in faith.”

Find your faith renewed in humanity with a visit to Project 42. If you are looking for another reason to come, the garment created for Lorena Escalera Xtravaganza includes an interactive element where visitors are invited to tie fabric flowers to the train. Visit often if you hope to catch one of the unannounced performances that will take place in the galleries.

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist & Social Media Manager

[1] Emily Dickinson, “[The soul has bandaged moments]” from The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition. Copyright © 1998 by Emily Dickinson.  Reprinted by permission of The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Images: Installation view of Project 42: Jono Vaughan at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

In honor of World Book Day, Culture Type recommends reading an exhibition catalogue; among the picks is the catalogue for Figuring History (only two weeks left to see it!).

“Few have the opportunity to travel around the country to view all of the important and compelling museum exhibitions featuring work by African American artists. While there is no substitute for seeing art in person, exhibition catalogs are the next best thing.”

The solo exhibition of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award winner is now on view! Margo Vansynghel of City Arts interviewed the artist for this feature story.

“I don’t want to only talk about myself,” Vaughan says when we meet to talk about the Betty Bowen Award and the associated show. “The project is about raising awareness about what’s happening: Last year was the most dangerous year on record for trans people, and specifically for womxn of color. Over 92 percent of trans people killed are trans people of color. That intersectionality is important.”

In her recurring series Art of Our City, Marcie Sillman of KUOW features dancer, Renaissance man, and SAM public programs coordinator David Rue (I really hope you didn’t miss him perform last week in Dani Tirrell’s Black Bois).

My older brother was in a production of “Into the Woods.” He was in 6th grade or something like that, but it was the first time I saw the curtain rise to expose this world of the imagination and I was like, “Oh my god! This is what I should be doing! This is it!’

Local News

Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement reviews Oh, You STILL Work There?, The Factory’s recent show about artists working in the service industry.

Carla Bell for Crosscut interviews ChrisTiana ObeySumner, Seattle Opera’s first social impact consultant; they will work to “encourage more access to communities of color.”

City Art’s Margo Vansynghel on Photographic Center Northwest’s current show on the deep visual legacy of the Black Panther Party, curated by Michelle Dunn Marsh and Negarra Kudumu.

“The Black Panthers were very aware of the power of imagery and of the effects of repetition,” Kudumu says. “The key markers and unifying aesthetic were always present, as a constant reminder of who they were and what they stood for.”

Inter/National News

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice—“the first public museum and memorial to the victims of racial terror in the US”—opened last week in Montgomery, Alabama. The New York Times’ Campbell Robertson has an unmissable look at this extraordinary new institution.

The Institute for Contemporary Art has opened in Richmond, Virginia. Hyperallergic’s Amanda Dalla Villa Adams visits their inaugural exhibition, Declaration, featuring artists such as Deb Sokolow, Titus Kaphar, and Paul Rucker.

Artsy’s Tess Thackara on the “must-see” exhibition of sculpture by the late Jack Whitten, now on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

“They were talismans and memorials; expressions of reverence to his ancestors; objects intended to create hope and to keep his family safe. They bring African and European cultural pasts together, rejecting the binaries of West and non-West. Indeed, they represent something like a loose roadmap for the future of humanity, offering some clues for how we might face the twin threats of technological and ecological crisis.”

And Finally

RIP to Bob Dorough, who has passed away at 94. I will always be grateful for your undeniably funky earworms that made learning magical.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Photo: Natali Wiseman
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

SAM News

Seattle Met’s Spring Arts Preview included the solo show of Betty Bowen Award-winner Jono Vaughan as one of the “Top Things to See and Do in Seattle” this spring.

And their cover story, uncovering the gems of “hidden Seattle,” included SAM Gallery—“a space where art appreciation turns into acquisition.”

SAM’s summer exhibition, Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson, is featured in Seattle Magazine’s Spring Arts Preview as one of the “can’t-miss” upcoming shows.

Chris Juergens of The International Examiner interviewed Manish Engineer, SAM’s first-ever Chief Technology Officer, about what he’s looking forward to in his new role.

“A higher profile, innovative art museum scene coalesces well with a rapidly growing local economy and world tech hub. Just like Engineer’s professional and educational background is a fusion of many worlds, with Engineer’s help, Seattle too will become a fusion of technology, business and art.”

Local News

Emily Pothast of the Stranger reviews C. Davida Ingram’s solo show A Book with No Pages, now on view at UW’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery, saying it “doesn’t just imagine that love. It’s a portal to a world where it has always existed.”

Karen Ducey of Crosscut takes her camera to the historic Louisa Hotel to capture the life-size murals from an underground after-hours jazz club that were discovered after a fire in 2013.

Rosin Saez of Seattle Met talks with Janelle Abbott and Camilla Carper, the creators of art/fashion line Femail, which is currently housed in the former Lusty Lady space.

“’This one I struggled with, but I think I’m happy now,’ she explained as she gazed at a patchwork dress made with her grandma’s sweatshirt. ‘It’s really, wonderfully, heinous.’”

Inter/National News

Beloved activist and patron Peggy Cooper Cafritz recently passed away; the story of her incredible art collection—and how she had to rebuild it after a fire—is told in a just-released Rizzoli book.

Taylor Dafoe of Artnet on New York-based arts nonprofit Creative Time’s upcoming spring exhibition, which “uses house music to explore issues of mass incarceration and criminal justice reform” in a decommissioned fire station.

Hope you enjoyed your bubbly and takeout for the Oscars last night. Mekado Murphy of the New York Times shares how four artists approached creating alternative posters for Get Out, the film which earned its writer/director Jordan Peele the award for best original screenplay.

And Finally

If SAM ever needs to hire someone to help write wall labels, this might be the person.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Studio visit with Jono Vaughan, 2017, photo: Natali Wiseman
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In The Studio: Jono Vaughan, 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner

Jono Vaughan, winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award, comes from an academic background, however the background noise of a visit to her studio is the sound of a sewing machine. Vaughan is embroidering Four Corners, a poem written by one of her collaborators, Natalie Ann Martinez onto the fabric she will use to make the sleeves for her current garment in the ongoing series, Project 42. Though she didn’t study textile art, Jono Vaughan’s recent work includes the production of colorful and carefully crafted, hand-made garments.

Project 42 is named for the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the United States. The age 42 is based on Vaughan’s own research since no official study can currently verify the average life expectancy of trans people. The National Transgender Survey was conducted two years ago and will be published soon as the most comprehensive analysis of the transgender community, Vaughan tells us.

For each work in the series, the artist designs a garment that begins with an image of a murder location, which is digitally manipulated to create an abstract textile print. The garment is then activated by a collaborator or by the audience and visitors to the installation, as it will be when installed at SAM for Jono Vaughan: Betty Bowen Award Winner, in April 2018. Jono Vaughan describes this practice as rooted in the belief of labor as memorialization and in the physical object as tribute.

Help us celebrate the 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner during the Award Ceremony and Reception on November 9 featuring a collaborative performance memorializing Fred Martinez Jr. by Natalie Ann Martinez, Catherine Uehara, and Amanda Pickler, and a talk by this multi-talented artist.

Heavier than it looks, this top includes fabric from every garment Jono Vaughan has made. This is the only piece Jono has made for herself and she intends for it to continue to grow.

SAM: Tell us how Project 42 got started.

Jono Vaughan: Project 42 began as a with a grant from Art Matters Foundation. I proposed a series of painting that were abstract paintings of locations where trans people had been murdered. Many people don’t want to have conversations about violence against trans people. Most people don’t know what abstract painting is about. They don’t know the history and the conceptual violence behind it. I wanted to use abstract painting to speak to that idea of something misunderstood, which ‘transness,’ I think, is very misunderstood.

How did you begin working with textiles?

The paintings were too static. They weren’t memorializing the individual in the way that I wanted them too. For a long time, I’d been talking to a dancer about collaborating, and I reached out to her to ask if I printed this pattern on fabric and made a garment, would she dance in it? That’s where it began. I stepped outside of my boundaries to make something outside of my traditional production and comfort zone.

How did do you decide how to abstract these geographical locations? Is there a specific school of abstraction or artists you’re influenced by as you create the patterns?

It’s responsive. Sometimes the patterns start with colors from photographs like skin tones or colors of clothing. Sometimes the patterns utilize screenshots of Google Earth street views where someone was murdered. They each include some type of symbolic action. In one garment many layers of lines are combined to form the pattern, each with 105 lines, a reference to the room number the individual was murdered in. There is also the design content—creating something that is visually appealing as a way to pull people into a discussion that they don’t recognize they want to have.

What role do your collaborators play in the creation of the garment?

I think of myself as the director of the project. The collaborators can engage in any type of action that they wish to share but we work closely to make sure that their memorialization is respectful and considered. Sometimes I do performance work too but I try not to be the focus. The last one was the result of a requirement by Anna Conner that couldn’t be facilitated unless the dress was cut off of her. Then I began to recognize the symbolic significance of sewing the dress back together as part of the performance. So that’s what we did.

The activations of these garments have taken place across multiple continents. Are these connected to the murder locations or otherwise location specific?

One of the original goals of the project was to offer stolen opportunities to the spirits of the people who were murdered. And an original conceptual element was the idea of travel. The first garment I made went to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to be performed in by Emily Navara who wore the dress to her favorite park in the city. The second dress was sent to New York City and my friend Mia D’Avanza went to her favorite swing dancing club wearing it after sharing a large meal with her friends.

As a white artist, it would be inappropriate for me to dictate how the majority of these people are memorialized because the majority of these people are people of color. Though one part of my identity represents a shared experience, my experiences are so different than many of these individuals because of the intersectionality of their identities. This is more about the retuning of humanity and the sharing of missed opportunities. Eating at a cafe in Rome in one of these garments is a symbolic gesture, but is a symbolic gesture focused on the humanity of individuals who were treated so inhumanely.

Work in progress for collaboration with Natalie Ann Martinez. Inkjet printed cotton poplin, antique lace, Navajo Churro sheep wool.

Will the installation at SAM in April include performance?

The installation at SAM will include three or four new pieces. They will be more sculptural since they will be on display for such a long period. The center piece will be a collaborative sculpture that visitors can contribute to by tying or manipulating fabric that has been prepared for them that will then be either sewn on to the garment by me or may actually be tied onto the garment by the museum goers themselves.

I’m pretty emotionally overwhelmed by the idea that to create these new pieces since the process requires me to immerse myself in the murders. I select who to memorialize by looking at the photographs of the individuals, and allowing them to step forward and ask, to speak to me. You have to get into a certain space to do that.

How much research do you do about these people’s lives or is it just the incident of their murder?

The amount of available information is dictated by the size of a person’s community. I want to treat everybody the same, so I decided not reach into, or out to, the communities the people were directly from. In some ways that sounds a little wrong, and in some ways, it is. But some of these individuals were prominent and well-known, and others nobody knew. I want to make sure everybody is treated with the same level of compassion, care, and respect no matter who they were.

Fred Martinez Jr., who we’re memorializing at the Betty Bowen Awards Ceremony and Reception, has had a documentary made about him (all research points to Fred’s use of male pronouns). How do I give the same amount of attention and respect to every individual? There’s also the question of me, as a stranger, impacting family and friends by revisiting the murder of their loved ones. This is not an easy project. And at times the critiques I place upon myself of how the project functions almost stops the process, but then another murder occurs, and I question how can I help to stop this violence. Raising awareness is important but so is considering the roles that we may all play in the larger questions of institutionalized violence, particularly against people of color.

Work in progress from a series re-creating every drawing in “The Drawings of Francois Boucher” by Alastair Lang.

What else are you working on?

I just wrapped up Safety in Numbers for Disjecta in Portland. It’s focused on anonymity and its relationship to safety for myself as a trans person. I create anonymity for myself by turning people into clones of me through physical haircuts. I’ve done this twice now and in both cases, the haircut selected was based on a contemporary trend. This time it was the tasseled bob. The bob, in a historical context addresses notions of gender identity and freedom of gender cultural constructs.

In addition to that I’m working on a series of drawings and etchings. I’m re-creating every drawing in The Drawings of Francois Boucher by Alastair Lang and inserting trans bodies as a way to create a visual history for myself, which doesn’t exist. We know that trans people did exist, and in some cases, had very prominent roles in courts. I’m creating this history for myself through these drawings and they also include anamorphic creatures that I’ve been using for a number of years that hint to the disorientation that I had growing up about my identity.

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist & Social Media Manager

Images: Courtesy of the artist. Studio photos: Natali Wiseman. Jono Vaughan, Documentation of Project 42 performance by Anna Conner at the Henry Art Gallery, 2016, Commissioned by the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington, Photograph by Jonathan Vanderweit, Courtesy of the artist, © Jono Vaughan.
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Muse/News: Arts News from SAM, Seattle, and Beyond

All the news that’s fit to blog about. See what SAM’s PR Manager, Rachel Eggers, has been reading to find out what’s happening inside the museum and around the art world.

SAM News

For Crosscut, artist and writer Don Fels asks the question: “What has made Yayoi Kusama the hottest ticket in Seattle?” Don’t miss the fun time lapse video from the lines outside the museum (if only they had gone that fast!).

“It’s very fitting, almost willfully symbolic, that people are talking with one another as they stand together outside. She couldn’t have engineered delivery of her message better if she had tried, or maybe she’s been working at that very accomplishment all these years.”

Last week, SAM announced the five artists selected as finalists for the 2017 Betty Bowen Award, which honors a Northwest artist for their original, exceptional, and compelling work. The Stranger shared the news, along with Hyperallergic, Artnet, Artdaily, and The Skanner. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner in mid-September—and for the winner’s solo show at SAM in April 2018.

Last week’s glorious Sculptured Dance event at the Olympic Sculpture Park was everywhere; dance writer Sandra Kurtz previewed it for Seattle Weekly:

“With the audience close enough to see the dust that those sneakers kick up and hear the slap of hands as they clasp in a fast turn (not to mention the mountains in the background), we get a fresh sense of a vital art form.”

The Stranger, Seattle Met and Crosscut also recommended the event; for those who missed it, helpful Instagrammers captured a bit of the evening’s magic.

Local News

Where’d You Go, Cate Blanchett? She and director Richard Linklater were spotted filming their adaptation of a famous Seattle book at the Central Library this week.

Coming soon to the airwaves of Rainier Valley: KVRU 105.7 FM, a low-power FM station serving the community.

The Mayor’s Arts Award winners were announced last week; CityArts reported from the sunny ceremony at Seattle Center.

Inter/National News

MoMA curator Sarah Suzuki and illustrator Ellen Weinstein teamed up to create a children’s book starring Kusama as the heroine.

Prepare for the film/art connections to be explored in Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect with this Artsy round-up of 17 artists and the films that influenced them.

The perfection of style: The New York Times files this inspiring slideshow of street style from the recent Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn.

And Finally

The project that’s achieving “a sense of shared destiny and common civic purpose” with one of my favorite things: LISTS.

– Rachel Eggers, Manager of Public Relations

 

Image: A pop-up performance during Summer at SAM by The Purple Lemonade Collective during Sculptured Dance at the Olympic Sculpture Park on August 31, 2017. Photo: Robert Wade.
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2016 Betty Bowen Award Winner Wendy Red Star

We talked with Wendy Red Star, the 2016 Betty Bowen Award winner, to discuss her art and ideas of cultural archiving, inclusion, expectations, and engaging communities through a creative process. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Wendy Red Star works cross-generationally, looking in particular at matrilineal relationships within Crow culture and ceremony. She has critically examined historical portraits of Crow leaders by white photographers and taken apart stereotypical representations of Native American women in a variety of popular culture contexts. Her work centers on photography but sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance are also important to her practice.

Learn more about this artist’s compelling work which will be featured in an installation at the Seattle Art Museum beginning November 10. And don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate the winner of the Betty Bowen Award during the ceremony on the 10th, beginning at 5:30 pm, honoring Wendy Red Star as well as  Dawn Cerny and Mark Mitchell who both received special recognition this year. The ceremony and reception following the artists’ remarks are free and open to the public.

Seattle Art Museum: You’ve described yourself as a cultural archivist in the past, can you describe how your work fills this role?

Wendy Red Star: My practice is collaborative and research-based. I am in pursuit of an on-going excavation of historical Native American imagery and material culture. I like to bring these “artifacts” to life in a contemporary visual arts context. Through an art practice that is driven largely by process, I want to unpack the fraught relationship and history of Native images, portraits, self-representation, and do so with wit, humor, and subtle satire in order to have levity in my art without sacrificing integrity.

red-star_medicine-crow

SAM: You’ve literally annotated a series of images of Crow chiefs. Do you consider your larger body of work to be an annotation? How are your cultural annotations in conversation with the erasure or removal aspects your other work?

WRS: Native voices have historically been silenced, unable to explain or even place our own narrative within the larger society. As a Native person I have witnessed the lack of inclusion for Native artists in particular in the contemporary art world, many of whom struggle for inclusion in important exhibitions. Also troubling is a prevailing but antiquated expectation of what Native art should be, whether from the 19th century or the 21st. This leaves many Native artists feeling segregated into categories of “traditional” work and without a place in the contemporary art world. I consider my practice and the act of annotating, revealing, and erasure a reclamation of my own history and identity. The act is so much more than a rejection of the colonial gaze, it is a deliberate act to take authority and rewrite histories in humanist way.

SAM: How do you see your work in conversation with SAM’s collection, if at all?

WRS: My recent work has had at its center an intensive engagement with my own Crow community and I am seeking to expand that focus into the broader contemporary art world to explore how other artists are grappling with narrative and performative aspects of their work, and how to continue exploring ways of creating greater accessibility and a sense of openness. I am inspired by the work of conceptual artist Fred Wilson who SAM has worked with and the ways in which I could further reappropriate and reimagine the photographic possibilities inherent in portraiture, staging and candid images, institutional critique, and curating museum objects in broader historical and contemporary contexts. SAM is an institution that is open to this process and I find that very exciting and necessary.

SAM: Tell us a bit about your process—how does the fabrication aspect of your creative process add dimension to the final product?

WRS: The actual making of my work happens fairly quick. The majority of my time is spent engaging in research and processing ideas while out walking with my dog in the woods. Once I have settled on an idea the execution happens in many different forms but is almost always image driven witha  focus on richness of color and cultural content.

apsaalooke_fem3

SAM: How does clothing design fit into your practice? Are you intrigued by your work being up at the same time as Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style?

WRS: My grandmother, Amy Bright Wings, made sure I participated in Crow cultural traditions. She provided me with a traditional elk tooth dress, a shawl, beaded belt, and moccasins—all objects that I have since integrated into my artwork. I soaked up as much of my grandmother’s knowledge as I could by watching her continually making. Although she never actually showed me directly how to make traditional Crow regalia, I learned through the process of immersion. Traditional Native regalia has signifiers that state the honors and virtues of the owner and maker of each individual garment. Every piece of traditional clothing is made with intention and striking beauty virtues that I use to help guide me in all aspects of my art making. I am a self taught seamstress learning the basics about nine years ago when my daughter was born. I have a deep admiration for the construction of garments, fine tailoring, and the sculptural aspect of making clothing. I am looking forward to viewing Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style and seeing the elegant construction and display of clothing. I suspect it will provide me with many ideas.

 

ABOUT THE BETTY BOWEN AWARD

Betty Bowen (1918–1977) was a Washington native and enthusiastic supporter of Northwest artists. Her friends established the annual Betty Bowen Award as a celebration of her life and to honor and continue her efforts to provide financial support to the artists of the region. Since 1977, SAM has hosted the yearly grant application process by which the selection committee chooses one artist from the Northwest to receive an unrestricted cash award, eligible to visual artists living and working in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The award comes with an unrestricted cash award of $15,000.

 

Images: Apsáalooke Feminist 1, 2016, Wendy Red Star, digital print on silver rag, 34 x 40 in., Courtesy of the artist, ©Wendy Red Star.
Peelatchiwaaxpáash/Medicine Crow (Raven), 2014, Wendy Red Star, inkjet print with red ink, 16 x 11 in., Courtesy of the artist, ©Wendy Red Star.
Apsáalooke Feminist 3, 2016, Wendy Red Star, digital print on silver rag, 34 x 40 in., Courtesy of the artist, ©Wendy Red Star.
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Object of the Week: Crystal Math

Don’t do this, but. . . If you were to bring a stack of Marvel comics to the Seattle Art Museum, ride the escalator to the third floor, take a left turn, pass the video installation, and look up at the wall to your left, you’d find installed on that wall a custom-built box that fits your comics perfectly. However, it’s sideways, and it’s a museum artwork.

The piece you’d be looking at is sardonically called Crystal Math. It visualizes a collaborative effort between brothers Oscar Tuazon and Eli Hansen. As brothers do, they’ve worked together on projects since their childhoods and this piece represents the particular interests of Tuazon in architecture and Hansen in glass art. Their collaborative art takes on traditional views that separate “high” and “low” art forms into different contexts. Crystal Math thoughtfully, playfully mingles them all.

The humble material of plywood, simply arranged into a box, contrasts the precious blown glass, artfully made. The cerebral architectural theory that informs the glass geodesic domes, which are references to the visionary Buckminster Fuller, contrasts the world referenced by the pipe-like spout on the upper dome, recalling drug paraphernalia. Then there’s the fact that Tuazon and Hansen have incorporated a box fashioned by their father for holding their comic books into an art installation on the wall of a major museum. Thinking about this piece in terms of high or low art forms, fine art or craft, really leads us nowhere; thinking about it as a creative act brings us to all kinds of fun readings.

Tuazon, who won the Betty Bowen Award in 2007, is a local artist with international appeal. He and his brother were born on the Port Madison reservation on the Kitsap Peninsula, just East of Poulsbo and North of Bainbridge Island, and they attended high school in Port Townsend. Tuazon studied at Cooper Union in New York and also completed the Independent Study Program through the Whitney Museum of American Art before moving back to the Northwest and working in Tacoma. He moved to Paris, a biographical detail that reflects his many connections abroad, and has now settled in Los Angeles. Tuazon has exhibited work in Zurich, Brussels, Berlin, Geneva, Rome, Oslo, Paris, and Tokyo, as well as in New York and LA.

Both Tuazon and Hansen participated in the residency program at Pilchuck Glass School, and right now Crystal Math joins works by other Pilchuck students, most notably Dale Chihuly, in SAM’s galleries. It also offers a point of connection to Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb. Not only does Graphic Masters feature the art of a legend in comics, R. Crumb, who I’m sure would be pleased to hear of Tuazon’s and Hansen’s comic book box, but it also juxtaposes work that many would consider traditional with Crumb’s notably anti-traditional illustrations. Plywood and print works, Picasso and pipes—they’re all coming together at SAM!

—Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

IMAGE: Crystal Math, 2007, Oscar Tuazon (American, b. 1975) and Eli Hansen (American, b. 1979), blown, cut, assembled glass and plywood, 36 x 30 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Merrill Wright, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2007.69, © Oscar Tuazon and Eli Hansen, Photo: Natali Wiseman.
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