Thump! That’s the happy sound of The New York Times fall arts preview hitting doorsteps. SAM’s major fall exhibition, Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, was featured in their round-up of “Over 100 Not-to-Miss Shows From East Coast to West.” The show traveling from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust was dubbed “a dazzling assembly.”
“Rector’s ability to seduce through stories is the stuff of hallowed auteurs. But it’s her ability to vanish behind the story that makes her work so enthralling. Fantasy doesn’t always have to be an escape; rather a tool to reframe and change the world.”
Yay for art history majors: When Denise Murrell’s professor ignored the Black servant in Édouard Manet’s Olympia, she made it her thesis subject—and it’s now an exhibition at Columbia that will travel to Paris’ Musée d’Orsay.
“What began as a kicky story idea became a masochistic march through voids of meaning. I found myself sleepwalking through them, fantasizing about going to a real museum. Or watching television. Or being on Twitter.”
Curated by RYAN! Feddersen and featuring art by Asia Tail and Fox Spears, we just had to stop by for more creative output from these artists who have also been involved with SAM during Double Exposure. The collection of art on view offers a range of styles from contemporary Native artists in a variety of mediums by artists hailing from tribes across the extended Pacific Northwest and beyond. Feddersen is the mastermind behind the Post Human Archive, the social media activity that was installed at SAM.
Asia Tail, also a curator (we can’t wait to see yəhaw̓ at the King Street Station opening in January 2019) is the hand behind the words on the Double Exposure website but we hadn’t seen her art previously! Fox Spears is one of the teaching artists offering free Drop-In Studio workshops at SAM (there’s one more workshop on Sunday led by Sondra Segundo before the exhibition closes) and it was so nice to see this work after learning so much about his process!
The lens we look through changes everything. In Native Portraiture, Tacoma Art Museum asks the question: What is communicated when an outsider portrays someone from another culture?
In the galleries you will have the chance to see contemporary Native artists representing Indigenous cultures for themselves. These works are interspersed by a few examples of depictions by non-Native artists that romanticize, stereotype, or appropriate Native people and cultures. We recommend spending at least an hour or two in this gallery to fully absorb the impact of this contrast.
Do yourself a favor and enjoy the ferry and short drive that it takes to get to Suquamish Museum. Well designed and chock-full of information, the permanent installation tells a detailed and important story through movement, textures, the forest environment and the symbolic movement of the tide. The objects on view, many never before exhibited, are a combination of works owned by the Suquamish Museum and on loan from Suquamish families and other museums. The way these objects are arranged creates an environment where you will want to spend some time. The museum describes their goal as an attempt to “displace the modern way of historical contextual understanding. Culture is more than historical events strung together. The passing of knowledge and values, generation to generation, is the core of Suquamish culture.” Based on our visit, the Suquamish achieves their goal, and then some!
Where your day trips take you, SAM recommends you make the time to visit the wealth of museums in Washington featuring work by Native artists!
Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson closes at SAM on September 9, but here are 8 places you can visit in Seattle (and beyond) where you can continue to widen your lens on Native culture. Indigenous peoples have been living in the Puget Sound area for well over 4,000 years making for a rich but complex history that has left a lasting mark on the region. Despite the hardships faced by Native communities, Native culture continues to thrive.
After decades of planning and fundraising, the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center opened its doors to tribal members, visitors, and the community in 2009. Located at a historic archeological site along the Duwamish river in West Seattle, the lobby displays archeological materials from the site and has a resource center filled with photographs, interviews, field notes, and other literature about the Duwamish and coastal Salish people. Visit the longhouse’s gallery and exhibit area—it’s free! In addition, the longhouse holds monthly special events as well as ongoing workshops, demonstrations and lectures.
Located on the University of Washington Seattle campus, the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, pronounced “wah-sheb-altuh,” aims to provide a welcoming space and a supportive educational environment for all Native students. Though this longhouse-style facility is on a college campus and many events are reserved for UW students, it also hosts a variety of different events like film screenings and concerts that are also open to the public. Check out their Facebook page for details on upcoming events.
If you’re in Neah Bay be sure to stop by the Makah Cultural & Research Center—the center includes the Makah Museum, as well as the Museum store, Makah Language Program, Archives and Library Department, Makah Education Department, and Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Their permanent collection boasts 300-500 year old artifacts recovered from a Makah village in Ozette, Washington. The Makah Museum also offers demonstrations and lectures by Makah Tribal Leaders plus workshops where you can learn to make crafts from Makah tradition.
Located in Seattle’s Discovery Park, Sacred Circle Gallery is a gallery space inside of Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. Along with a permanent collection of Native American art, they show curated exhibits featuring contemporary and traditional Native American Art by global and local artists.
This Port Angeles heritage center is the home of a permanent exhibit of Kallam Village artifacts along with contemporary works by local tribal members. Across the street from the Heritage Center you’ll find The Carnegie Museum, managed by The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the space displays cultural and historical artifacts of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and other tribes of the Olympic Peninsula.
Located on the Evergreen State College campus in Olympia, “House of Welcome” Longhouse Education and Cultural Center’s mission is promoting Indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression, and economic development. Come to the longhouse to learn about indigenous arts and cultures through Native art markets, exhibitions, performances, films, and other public events.
Learn about the legacy of the Tulalip Tribe and people via interactive displays and stories told in both Lushootseed and English at the Hibulb Cultural Center. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection and rotating special exhibitions, they host public events and workshops from weaving and beading classes to salmon bake fundraisers. And, to top it all off, the Cultural Center also happens to be located on a 50-acre natural history preserve, with a research library and a longhouse!
Lelooska Family dancers give audience members an understanding of Northwest Coast First Nations culture in living history performances at the Lelooska Foundation and cultural center. Along with living history performances, the Lelooska Foundation offers classes in traditional Northwest Coast crafts like wood carving, weaving, beading, and more. In addition, the Lelooska Museum holds an immense collection of artifacts from around the globe—check out their website for museum hours and event dates!
– Nina Dubinsky, Social Media and Communications Coordinator
Images: Photo courtesy of Lelooska Foundation. Photo courtesy of the Longhouse at Evergreen. Photo courtesy of the Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve.
Recently, the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt Library acquired two works by book artist, designer, and member of the Oneida Nation Erin Mickelson. Mickelson’s work is often about language, particularly translation. Sometimes her work is as straightforward as a translation from one language to another, but often she attempts to translate an idea between seemingly disparate forms—language, image, code, and movement. You can see Mickelson’s works in person in the reception area just outside of the Bullitt Library on SAM’s 5th floor until Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicholson, Tracey Rector, Will Wilson closes on September 9, 2018.
Mutterfarbe, published in 2017 by Broken Cloud Press (Santa Fe, NM), the imprint of Mickelson, is a limited-edition artist-book collaboration between poet, translator, and visual artist Brandi Katherine Herrera and Mickelson. The work, which uses Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s seminal work Zur Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors, 1810) as its primary source, features experimental text, visual translations, and poems.
The work includes three sections, plus front matter and back matter. In the first section, Natürlicher, sixteen color swatches sourced from photographs of Herrera’s environment are accompanied by poems whose words are drawn from translations of Goethe’s text. The second section, Ursprünglicher, includes erasure poems by Herrera with “visual translations” of Goethe’s illustrations by Mickelson. The third section, Farbe Gespräch, is an imagined text conversation between Herrera and Goethe regarding the surrealist film, The Holy Mountain (directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1973) using contemporary language, texting, and the Google Translate app. Mickelson sources the illustrations in this section directly from screenshots of the film, rendering them in the sixteen colors used throughout the work. This particular section utilizes a leporello structure, creating an accordion-like fold, and can extend to thirteen feet wide. The front matter includes a unique lenticular print, a technology that creates a three-dimensional effect. The three pamphlet-stitched books (Anhang I–III) that make up the back matter feature a translator’s note, color source photographs, scans of the original text erasures, and the translation of Zur Farbenlehre.
Mickelson and Herrera worked with Zachary Schomburg to create this informative video which helps us understand the many parts of this fascinating work.
He Wears a Feather
He Wears a Feather (2015) demonstrates a move for Mickelson toward more socially and politically informed work. It is also a work inspired by a deep and personal topic: controversial blood quantum laws dictate that the artist’s son be excluded from the Oneida Nation’s tribal rolls—the first generation of Mickelson’s family.
“He Wears a Feather is very much about a disappearing cultural identity. I’ve had a lot of conversations about this idea with my mother, who, as an Oneida artist, has dedicated her career to telling the stories and history of the Oneida people through her paintings. She’s talked at length about the changing attitude toward identifying as Native. Her grandmother (my great-grandmother) was at the Carlisle Indian boarding school, where students were forced to assimilate to Euro/American culture. It created a huge rift between those students and their families who remained on the reservation. Subsequent generations have dealt with racism and colonialism as well as the effects of the previous generation’s forced assimilation, and connections to history, language, and identity have become frayed. Particularly for those living off the reservation. I am mixed-race and the last generation of my family to be a tribal member (due to blood quantum laws). It feels imperative to me to do what I can to stay connected to my family history. I can do this by trying to learn and preserve the language, history, and stories of the Oneida people.”
—Erin Mickelson, book artist
The work takes the form of a drop-spine box and includes an electronic sound module that, when the soapstone turtle is removed and the module is exposed to light, allows the reader to hear the book’s text being read aloud. Mickelson utilized text and an audio recording from the Oneida Language Revitalization Program, originally a Works Progress Administration project started in 1939, whose goal is to preserve and continue the Oneida language.
Did you know that SAM Shop has a store on the museum’s fourth floor with objects specifically selected based on the artwork in our special exhibitions? During Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson we’re working with Native artists and companies to stock the shelves. SAM Shop buyer, Renata Tatman interviewed Native artists and the co-owners of one of these retailers: Crystal and Rico Worl are siblings and they started Trickster Company with a focus on Northwest Coast art and themes and issues in Native culture. SAM recently launched a brand new web store for SAM Shop where you can order playing cards and stickers from Trickster Company. Better yet, stop by the special exhibition store on the fourth floor when you visit Double Exposure (closing September 9!) for more products by this innovative Indigenous product design company, or check out the Trickster Company site after learning more about this dynamic duo right here!
SAM: Do you remember how old you were when you first started to work on projects together?
Crystal Worl: When we were kids we used to build little towns out of Lego. There were shops filled with tiny paper books, and clothes made out of fabric. We had a very elaborate plan. Playing and making things was the way we had fun. We were given a lot of love and nurtured by family. We were encouraged to be creative. We are really blessed to have parents that believe in our art business.
Rico Worl: Crystal was always the artist. I never considered myself an artist until I returned from college. I started to work on a brand around 2010. At that time we started to think about the concept of Trickster together.
Do you collaborate on most projects, or do you each come up with your own ideas and work independently?
Crystal: It depends on the project. Sometimes I’ll say to Rico, “Hey I have this project, do you want to do it with me?” I’m often juggling up to 20 different projects. Some are collaborations with our community or other artists. We try to share opportunities with each other when they come up. Often times when I have an exhibition I invite Rico to submit work.
Rico: It’s a mix. We share a lot of the designs. Other times we help take on projects the other needs help with.
How and when were you inspired to explore a more contemporary design esthetic?
Crystal: I knew I needed to practice drawing everyday, and study formline from works done by the masters. After college I had to decided to find a mentor for an apprenticeship in carving and design. Robert Davidson came to Juneau to give a lecture about formline art. One part of his lecture he said that you need to start with 10,000 hours of practice to begin. He encouraged me to write him a letter and send in my portfolio. I am now in a two-year apprenticeship with Robert. Robert’s work inspires me to learn the principals of formline, practice 10,000 hours, develop intuition, and then expand on it.
Rico: I consider myself more a student of traditional formline design. Though I must also note that I feel that formline evolves—labeling it traditional or contemporary is not accurate. We are using contemporary mediums though and placing designs in a different context. I do this to represent my own modern identity.
How did you learn about doing business and selling your designs?
Crystal: When I showed my dad what I made, he would get really excited and tell me that it was good, and that we should try to sell it. My Mom would purchase supplies for me and give me books about art. She taught me how to bead. Both of my parents wanted me to do what I loved to do and make a living doing it.
Rico: It sounded fun. I was working at Sealaska Heritage doing anthropological work. I started to learn about commerce when people wanted to buy my artwork. I read a lot about being an entrepreneur, it became a game to me.
In the Pacific Northwest most people are familiar with formline and Native design. Do you sell to other parts of the country where they may not have seen this design work before?
Crystal: Formline is naturally pleasing to the eye. It looks good on anything and opens the door to educate people about our art and culture.
Rico: We sell around the world off our website. One of the goals of the Trickster Company is to make the art accessible and give people a chance to appreciate without appropriating. People are excited to make the connection with Native culture.
“These days, the word ‘community’ is brandished so frequently that its meaning is eroding. Not so in Tacoma. Conversations with more than a dozen artists crystallize the sense that in Tacoma, together is better. Collaboration trumps competition. People show up for each other.”
“Gaignard’s photographs. . . . feature women who immediately seem poised and self-confident, secure in their identity regardless of whether or not the viewer is able to pinpoint their racial background. That is intentional. ‘I just want to portray females in these empowered ways,’ said the artist. ‘There’s enough damsels in distress.’”
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.
“Displaying Curtis’ work alongside contemporary Native artists is part of a growing shift among art institutions, which are becoming more critical of themselves and inviting visitors to do the same. They are becoming more conscious of who is telling the narrative.”
“’Latinos have made incredible contributions, not only to the economy, but to the citizens of Washington state,’ said Erasmo Gamboa, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Washington and one of the leaders of the museum project.”
“One of a handful of women who was able to shatter the confines of her time, she overcame extreme personal difficulties to succeed in the art of painting. This picture will help us transform how we collect, exhibit and tell the story of women artists throughout history.”
“But you should see what SAM has done with Double Exposure. The jolts between Curtis’s ‘noble’ (his word) Natives in traditional dress (their own or others’) standing near the lively, light-filled, trickstery art of Wilson, Rector, Nicolson is just exhilarating.”
Prepare to cry: Juan “Neeto” Old Chief Betancourt honored his great-grandmother Antone with an invite to prom, held recently at the Seattle Art Museum. The Seattle Times’ Lauren Frohne and Erika Schultz share the heartwarming story.
“It is not about taking something that belongs to someone else and making it serve you but rather about recognizing that history is brutal and unfinished and finding some way, within that recognition, to serve the dispossessed.”