All posts in “Community Gallery”

Twice as Nice: SAM Staff Artists Tie FTW

Every year Seattle Art Museum’s Community Gallery is dedicated to artwork by its staff and the eclectic outcome is a thing of true beauty—as colorful and strange as all the art lovers and artists that work here. This year, in a true testament to the volume of excellent work that was on view July 31 to September 1, not one but two talented SAM staff members were voted as faves by their peers. Ashley Mead, Assistant Registrar-Rights and Reproductions, and Natali Wiseman, Design Studio Manager, tied for our hearts this time around. Learn more about these two artists their obsessions with color, and their love for SAM’s Australian Aboriginal collection in this interview!

SAM: How does this work fit into your larger artmaking practice? Have you always worked in this medium?

Ashley Mead: It doesn’t? Or rather, because I’m inconsistent in my practice it totally fits with my larger artmaking practice. I just couldn’t tell you how. I’ve worked with paper for a few years and in collage for one year, and only because I agreed to do a portrait before I remembered that I can’t draw. Other than that, I dabble in just about every medium I can get my hands on—hence the inconsistency.

Natali Wiseman: I have always painted, but this is the first painting I’ve made in a few years. Previously I did a lot of really detailed illustrative painting, which completely broke me, so I took a long break. I wanted to try something a lot looser with less clean edges. Playing with dimensional paint was fun and new. For the last several years I have mostly been doing screen printing and collage, so it was nice to get back into painting.

What inspired the piece in the art show? Is there a story behind the work or is it part of a series?

Mead: It’s based on a photo of me, Ted, and Michael Besozzi taken at the Smith Tower on my birthday two years ago. We looked so good I wanted to know what we’d look like in paper—we’re definitely more colorful and less serious in this work than in the photo.

Wiseman: I have a 1960s craft book from my mom that has detailed instructions on making “chemical gardens”, also known as ammonia gardens (or sometimes you can buy them in kits, called “magic gardens”). The gardens are these melty piles of color, which I felt compelled to paint with overgrown fungal-looking flowers. There is something interesting to me about creating synthetic gardens.

What artists or artworks are inspirations to you in general?

Mead: Oh goodness. I’m a fan of color, that’s probably the biggest thing that draws me to a piece or artist. Specifics though, Van Gogh has always been a favorite. Mickalene Thomas is a more recent love. Oh, and I love our Australian Aboriginal collection. That’s just a short hodgepodge list.

Wiseman: This is hard! Color is a big deal for me. I love Sister Corita Kent’s work. I really like the Light and Space movement and color field painting. I also love Judy Chicago, Lynda Benglis, Richard Tuttle, Kenneth Noland, Jack Whitten, Gehard Richter, Wayne Thiebaud, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney . . . I suppose there could be a theme there. I love surrealism, particularly Rene Magritte, Man Ray, and Leonora Carrington. At SAM, I find the work in the Aboriginal Australian gallery to be very inspiring and meditative.

What other art projects are you working on right now or looking forward to?

Mead: All of them! I have about a half dozen commissions and half-million ideas, so good luck to me on figuring out what to focus on next.

Wiseman: More gardens, and I have some collages in the works. Hoping to do more large-scale screen printing, too. And I really want to get into ceramics! 

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

Photos: Lawrence Cenotto
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Best in Show: We Love Lynda Swenson’s Artwork

You probably assume that most people working at an art museum are pretty into art, but what you might not realize is how many of them are artists themselves. A trip to SAM’s community gallery to see the SAM Staff Art Show, on view through February 3, is a great reminder of the talent that fills not just the galleries of our museums, but the administrative offices as well. Make sure to walk all the way to the end of the first-floor corridor to see the work that won our hearts and the most votes during the Staff Art Show reception. What you’re looking for is an indigo diptych by Lynda Harwood Swenson. Her piece, Sticks and Stones 1 & 2 (Lapidation), contains a lot of tension while also feeling calm and contemplative. Give it a good long look the next time you visit.

Lynda is the Art Studio Programs Senior Associate at SAM. She’s the mastermind behind our free Drop-In Studio events on First ThursdayS and summer Sundays and the interactive art-making activities that SAM offers through our education and public programs. She also recently became a member of Shift Gallery in Pioneer Square where you can see her work in a solo show February 7 through March 2.

SAM: When did you begin making art formally? Were you always working in print media? How did you arrive at it?

Lynda Swenson: I was lucky that I went to a high school that really valued art and art making and my art teacher in high school was a printmaker. She introduced me to the medium and I really fell in love with it and continued working in printmaking through college and most of my adult life.

The title of this piece brings a lot of context to the work about both the topic and materials. Can you expand a bit on the meanings you are playing with?

In choosing the title, Sticks and Stones 1 and 2 (Lapidation), I was thinking about all the negative rhetoric directed at women in the last few years. Because the image is a photogram of stones, I thought it was a really simple way of telling the viewer what they were looking at, as well as what my intention was. Adding the word “lapidation,” which means stoning a person to death, where no individual is held responsible—is suggesting an awareness that this is still happening in places and, metaphorically, it happens in our society all the time.

You said the women in this work are not based on actual people, how did you decide to depict them?

The women’s heads in the work are from a found image from a magazine, I think they were carved wooden heads (I don’t know who the artist is). I manipulated them through a copying process and then the transfer process. I really wanted to depict women from many ethnic backgrounds, even subtle skin color differences mattered in the work.

How are the white lines and shapes created? Are these traces of your process?

The white lines are part of the cyanotype process, they are a byproduct that is sometimes left behind on the paper, or in this case on the vellum, it may be from minerals in the water used to rinse the chemistry out after exposure.

The stones that you used in this work, are these actual stones? Where did they come from?

Yes, the stones are real and were from my yard. They were laid very neatly on vellum sheets that were covered in a cyanotype chemistry and exposed to light—the white parts of the image are where the rocks laid and the blue is where the chemistry was exposed to the sunlight.

Tell us about Shift Gallery, the artist-run gallery you joined this year.

This is currently the 15 year anniversary of Shift Gallery. It’s an artist-run space in the Tashiro Kaplan building on 4th Avenue and Washington Street, near Pioneer Square. Shift is a great venue with a mission of supporting Northwest artists of diverse media and rigorous content. I feel like it’s a great launching pad for Seattle artists to show their work.

What else are you working on right now? Where else can people interact with your work?

I have a solo show opening on February 7 at Shift, running through March 2. I also have work on view at the Coos Art Museum, in the West Coast Ink and Print show in Coos Bay Oregon until February 9.

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM Content strategist and Social Media Manager

Images: Photo: Natali Wiseman. Sticks and Stones 1 & 2 (Lapidation), diptych, 33 x 22 inches, cyanotype photogram with image transfer on vellum, photo: Art Grice
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WSHSPC

Happy Fall! Here's a little video to learn a little bit more about us and how the competition works!

Posted by Washington State High School Photography Competition on Saturday, November 18, 2017

Community Gallery: Winning Photographs by High School Students

Every year, SAM’s Community Gallery features the winning photographs from the Washington State High School Photography Competition (WSHSPC). This year 33 photos were selected from nearly 4,000 entries by judges Mel Curtis, Claire Garoutte, and Bruce Hudson. One of our many amazing community partners, WSHSPC has been providing a prestigious public platform for student photography since 1995 and we are excited to share the lens of today’s talented youth with everyone. Stop by the Community Gallery on the ground floor for free the next time you swing by SAM—these winning photos will be on view through December 30.

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Community Gallery: Art for Growth and Healing

Sharing your deepest feelings in front of a group of people takes a lot of courage. It can be very transformative and therapeutic. This is what the Art with Heart Chill and Spill curriculum empowers students to do—it is a great tool that allows youth to navigate their emotions. Art with Heart is a nonprofit organization that uses art to help kids heal through their creative expression resources.

The day that Antonio confessed that even though his mother, who struggles with alcohol dependency, abandoned him, he still loved and cared for her. This young man took a huge step towards maturity and forgiveness, opening his heart while reading aloud his powerful last word letter, setting him free from his feelings.

Many of our program participants grow up in households without paternal or maternal figures or formal education. Many have had to escape and survive situations that most people cannot even imagine. Their resilience never ceases to surprise me. My hope and motivation is to teach them how to cope with their emotions through creative expression. Often times, when I observe their art and listen to their stories, I become the student and they become my teachers.

In every weekly class, the young men are able to express their varying emotions in a supportive, respectful, and safe environment. Our ground rules are very basic, as we all are looking for the same things: love, acceptance, and respect! I make sure that everyone understands that this is a special class, it is not about how cool their art projects might look, but about the process and what they learn about themselves.

Life is full of challenges and opportunities. Creating art means taking risks. Creative expression means exploring, recognizing, labeling, and understanding feelings. Sometimes it means confronting big emotions. Often it means accepting, surrendering, and forgiving the people who have hurt us, so that we find space to be free and to grow stronger, exactly as Antonio decided to do!

– Teresa Luengo, Art with Heart facilitator at Friends of Youth

Images: Making My Way, linoleum block, printmaking ink. Made by a Friends of Youth resident during Art with Heart’s Chill & Spill Program, Age: 17. Courtesy of Art with Heart. Photo by Alan Abramowitz, artwork by Art with Heart program participant at Brettler Family Place. Photo by Sera Rogers. artwork by an Art with Heart participant at Friends of Youth.

 

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Community Gallery: The Voices of a City

The Community Gallery at the Seattle Art Museum showcases art that builds and supports community through allowing youth to have a voice and a place to share their vision. The Community Gallery is located on the first floor of the Seattle Art Museum and is currently showing The Voices of the City in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation. Jose’s embroidered artwork, pictured above, is an example of the Tenango technique that Isabel Mirales, our blog contributor, discusses below. Visit the Community Gallery through February 4 to see and hear more from these voices of our city.

Bordados Tenango de Hidalgo

On my last visit to Mexico, my country of origin. I visited a town in the state of Guanajuato called “La Valenciana.” Walking between the streets I found some women embroidering—the color of their blankets caught my attention and I started a conversation with them. While talking with them, I imagined how interesting and important it would be for my children in the Before and After School Program, to show them a little of their country through this embroidery, since many of them do not have or did not have the opportunity to travel to their parents’ home country and where their roots come from.

En mi última visita por México, mi país de origen. Visité un pueblo en el estado de Guanajuato llamado “La Valenciana” caminando entre las calles encontré a unas mujeres bordando. El colorido de sus mantas me llamó tanto la atención y comence una coversación con ellas. Mientras conversaba con ellas imaginaba lo interesante e importante que seria para mis niños en el Programa de Antes y Despues de la Escuala mostrarles un poco de su país a través de éstos bordados, ya que muchos de ellos no tienen o no an tenido la oportunidad de viajar al país de origen de sus padres y de dónde vienen sus raices. 

And so, starts our adventure!

Y asi, comienzo nuestra aventura!

Mexico really is a country of colors, and under this emblem some women of the Otomí-tepehua region dedicate their life to spending their eyes and their hands creating true works of textile art. The Tenangos are a mosaic of colors that when shaped in a blanket, they become a gift that we all wish to have at home.

México realmente es un país de colores, y bajo este distintivo unas mujeres de la región otomí – tepehua dedican su vida a gastar la vista y sus manos para crear verdaderas obras de arte textil; los Tenangos son un mosaico de colores que al ser plasmados en una manta, se convierten en un regalo que todos deseamos tener en casa.

Within the wide range of crafts that are manifested in Mexico, the technique of textiles cannot be forgotten and the famous embroidery at Tenango de Doria in the state of Hidalgo, are an example of a great number of designs out of the mind of those embroiderers who spend every day sewing a new work to dress from a table.

Dentro de la gran gama de artesanía que se manifiestan en México, no puede faltar la técnica de los textiles; y los famosos bordados en Tenango de Doria en el estado de Hidalgo, son un ejemplo de una gran cantidad de diseños salidos de la mente de aquellas bordadoras que pasan todos los días cosiendo a pulso un nueva obra para vestir desde una mesa.

The different designs of Tenangos have been recognized around the world and this gives them an international prestige, “With a beautiful Tenango you will see this garment, no matter where come from.”

Los distintos diseños de los Tenangos han sido reconocidos en todo el mundo y esto les da un prestigio internacional, “Con un Tenango bella te verás con esta prenda, no importa de dónde vengas”.

There are about 400 women in this population who are dedicated to translating what their mind dictates, there is no pattern to follow, only a set of rural figures that can be human, natural or floral and with that colorful touch in blue, green, yellow or red.

Son alrededor de 400 mujeres en esta población quienes se dedican a plasmar lo que su mente les dicta, no hay un patrón a seguir, sólo un conjunto de figuras rurales que pueden ser humanas, naturales o florales y con ese toque colorido en azul, verde, amarillo o rojo.

These masters of the needle demonstrate their talent in white fabrics like linen, blanket, silk, cotton, and other textures in timeframes that can range from weeks to months.

Estas maestras de la aguja demuestran su talento en telas blancas como lino, manta, seda, algodón, y demás texturas en plazos que van de semanas a meses.

Not all the colorful figures are on a white background: they are also made under a black cloth with white or gold embroidery, perhaps yellow backgrounds with red embroidery, and other beautiful combinations that, thanks to their unique designs, put the buyer in a true dilemma of whether to wear a traditional tenango or one that matches more with a room or some piece of their house.

No todas las figuras coloridas van en un fondo blanco, también se hacen bajo una tela negra con bordados blancos o dorados, quizá fondos amarillos con bordados rojos, y otras hermosas combinaciones que–gracias a sus diseños irrepetibles-ponen al comprador en un verdadero dilema de si llevar un tenango tradicional o uno que combine más con la sala o alguna pieza de la casa.

The truth is that a wall is worth putting a work of art on, and a Tenango is that. At the moment, there are exclusive hotels decorating luxurious spaces that give that “Mexican” touch in the decoration.

Lo cierto es que una pared vale la pena poner una obra de arte y un Tenango es eso. Actualmente hay hoteles exclusivos decorando espacios lujosos que le dan ese toque “mexicano” en la decoración.

Horses, birds, deer, daisies, rabbits, trees, dogs, children, donkeys, armadillos, bulls, tulips, dragonflies, fish, hens and other elements of nature perfectly combine with grecas and some other indigenous symbols.

Caballos, pájaros, venados, margaritas, conejos, árboles, perros, niños, burros, armadillos, toros, tulipanes, libélulas, peces, gallinas y demás elementos de la naturaleza combinan perfectamente con grecas y algunos otros símbolos prehispánicos.

Together, they are the perfect canvas that harmonizes the culture and life of the community in different important events like marriage, harvest, some parties, birth and other moments of Otomí-tepehua life.

Juntos, son el lienzo perfecto que armoniza la cultura y la vida de la comunidad en distintos eventos importantes como el matrimonio, la cosecha, algunas fiestas, el nacimiento y otros momentos de la vida otomí-tepehua.

– Isabel Mireles, Childcare Provider, South Park School-Age Care Program

Photos: Natali Wiseman
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