All posts in “Elles”

SAMart: Stitched, painted, and in-your-face

Egyptian artist Ghada Amer is best known for works like Black Series: Couleurs Noires, where embroidered female nudes emerge seductively from zones of applied and dripping paint. Not readily apparent at first glance, her canvases draw inspiration from photography: The female forms in her work are drawn from pornography, traced onto an abstractly painted canvas, and then embroidered. She leaves the embroidery threads uncut, securing them to the canvas with gel; these trailing threads add an additional sense of “painterliness” to the image.

Amer’s work is inherently confrontational—not just in displaying to the viewer perhaps disturbing imagery, but playing with the dichotomies of pornography vs. art, abstraction vs. figure, and photography vs. painting.

This painting is installed as part of Elles: SAM – Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists, which remains on view through 17 February.

The first Members Art History Lecture of 2013 will take place tomorrow (Wednesday), 16 January, at 7:00pm in the Plestcheeff Auditorium, first floor, SAM downtown.

Barbara Brotherton, Curator of Native American Art, will discuss Together Again: Nuxalk Faces of the Sky with her colleague Jennifer Kramer, Curator of Pacific Northwest Art, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia.

Black Series: Couleurs Noires, 2000, Ghada Amer (Egyptian, works in America, born 1963), acrylic, embroidery, and gel medium on canvas, 68 x 70 in., Gift of the ContemporaryArtProject, Seattle, 2002.5, © Ghada Amer. Currently on view in Elles: SAM – Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists, Modern and Contemporary art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown, through 17 February.
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SAMart: A human-scale Torso

Toshiko Takaezu was one of America’s most successful artists using ceramics for sculptural ends. In her career, spanning the late-1940s until the 2010s, she moved beyond the functional pots and bowls traditionally thrown by ceramicists to explore forms, surfaces, and colors on purely aesthetic terms.

SAM’s collection includes thirteen works spanning Takaezu’s long career, including this large, standing sculpture. Strangely familiar to a viewer’s eye, Torso more closely reflects the proportions and scale of the human form than a jar, and is a significant example of Takaezu’s later achievements in clay.

 

Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris closes this Sunday, 13 January. However, Elles: SAM – Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists remains on view until 17 February. SAMart will continue to explore the work of women artists in SAM’s collection until Elles: SAM closes next month.

Torso, 2000, Toshiko Takaezu (American, 1922–2011), ceramic, 57 1/2 x 19 x 19 in., Gift of the artist, 2009.13, © Toshiko Takaezu. Not currently on view.
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A Glimpse of Seattle Art Museum’s School Tours- Art Workshops

After exploring works by many women artists in the Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Elles: SAM exhibitions, how can students be encouraged to make personal reflections? How can they explore the ideas and challenges provoked by these works of art? Can this reflection be a creative personal exploration of their own experience?

In SAM’s school tour art workshops, professional Teaching Artists engage school groups of all ages with these questions. Teaching Artists are employed by SAM to enrich our education programs with hands-on arts projects that provide an additional way of learning and understanding the art students see on their tours. These projects encourage students to take on art and creativity to express their own experiences. Each teaching artist holds a different background in art and in teaching. They are all professionally trained artists and teachers and come to SAM to join both art and education in one place. Here in our art studios students can explore their own artistic creativity with the guidance of working artists.

The art workshop developed for the Elles: Pompidou exhibition focuses on issues of identity, gender and stereotypes.  Gender Stereotyping, or standardized portrayals of males and females, is something everyone witnesses in everyday life. In the streets, in a classroom, in our communities and homes there are images attached to certain gender roles. In the Elles art workshop students are asked to think about commonplace assumptions of the roles and images that can be attributed to women and men. Sometimes these standardized attributes can be hard to see and should be observed more closely to get to the root of how stereotyping has shaped our ideas of gender.

What better way to explore associated relationships amongst an assortment of stereotypes than in a collage? Students look through popular and vintage magazines to find images that speak to them about familiar gender stereotypes. They collage these images, advertisements and words onto a poster. The poster presents bold statements through eye-catching images, questioning media messages. Some collages contain vibrant colors and blunt phrases with pictures from women’s magazines. These collages explore challenges about what women are expected to be: a lady, a housewife, a mother, a cook, or a lover.

Images are taken out of their intended context to make us re-examine where we feel they belong and why. The collage collects art and experience into one gathering place and so doing, beckons us as viewers to question how we look and what symbols we associate to certain gender roles.

All SAM’s School Tours can be joined with an Art Workshop, each of which integrates a project related to the themes of the tour. All our Teaching Artists have been working at SAM for several years and are extremely experienced in presenting art in an encouraging, accessible way for students of all ages. Come by our Chase Open Studio on the Grand Staircase where many of the student art projects are showcased and where visitors are welcome to make their own art during their tour of the museum.

For more information on SAM’s School Tours & Art Workshops, email schooltours@seattleartmuseum.org

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Taking a tour for the team: Athletes take the reins of Elles

With this week’s My Favorite Things:  Highly Opinionated Public Tours at SAM Downtown two local athletes will be giving  tours in conjunction with Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Katie Hultin, goal keeper for the Seattle Sounders, and Parisa Asgharzadeh, of the local Seattle Breakers Women Rugby Team, will each be taking the reins of tour guide beginning at 6:30 and 6:45 PM respectively. As athletes take over the galleries, the way physical activity is shared by athletes and artists alike came to mind.

 

In 1992, the Seattle Arts Commission installed what is arguably the city’s most iconic piece of public sculpture. Jonathan Borofsky’s Hamming Man is known by practically everyone who is familiar with SAM. Tourists passing by on Ride the Ducks tours take snapshots of the sculpture as they pass by on First Avenue, and fellow workers downtown can feel a silent bond with the steady swings of the hammer. Of his sculpture, Borofsky stated, “The Hammering Man is a worker. The Hammering Man celebrates the worker. He or she is the village craftsman.” The Hammering Man reminds us that whether we are laborers, artists, or athletes our physical efforts become rewarded when we work together toward, as Borofsky upholds, “a happier and more enlightened humanity.”

 

This week’s My Favorite Things tours made me think of the Hammering Man not only for the relationship of physical activity that artists and athletes both share, but because of an anecdote I remember as an undergraduate student in Art History at the University of Washington. In one of my early survey of Western Art classes, we were given a writing assignment on a piece of public sculpture. Borofsky’s Hammering Man was one of the works we could choose to write about, and the TA for this class, who was very knowledgeable with Seattle’s offering of public sculpture, had her own highly opinionated critique of the monumental laborer on SAM’s First Avenue doorstep. It was her view that the gender of the sculpture was a woman rather than a man, and that this is an observable, if not subtle, fact that could be seen in a curve just below the stationary arm of the sculpture. Although I didn’t quite agree, the point she made is significant for alluding to the tendency to see the Hammering Man as a man, rather than a woman, or a figure that is inclusive of more than one gender representing a diverse population.  The oversight is unfortunate yes, but my TA’s slightly tongue-in-cheek claim reminded us of the activity and achievements of women artists, athletes, and laborers.

Our tour guides this week will undoubtedly have some interesting points about their own experiences with the art on view in the Elles exhibitions, and I’m excited to hear how they feel about some of the works on display.  I feel that artists and athletes alike are working toward similar outcomes in their craft. After the countless hours of training one’s body to perform at the highest level of physical activity the ability to carry out the actions and designs of the game exist for the sublime moment when we finally capture a win. Shutouts and upsets are going to happen, but whether it’s the art of the game, or art for itself, it is the physical elation of that eventual success that we work so hard to create.

 

– Ryan Peterson, Program Assistant

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SAMart: One last traditional basketmaker

Considered a wealth item, and often given as a gift to friends or relatives, finely woven baskets like this are rarely associated with a known weaver. This basket, however, comes from the hand of Susan Wawatkin Bedal, the last traditional basket maker of the Sauk-Suiattle tribe from the Darrington, Washington area.

Susan Bedal possessed an intimate knowledge of the gathering and preparation of natural materials from the prairie and forests of the North Cascades, which she crafted into masterful works. Visual balance is achieved through the attention given to the placement and disposition of the designs on the field of the baskets. The accent designs have descriptive names that refer to the natural features of the artist’s world, such as butterfly (inverted triangles), clouds (staggered rows of alternating colors), and snake or trail (ladder step design). Such designs are owned by individuals and families and passed down through the generations.

Due to the holidays, SAMart will be on vacation for the next two weeks. Happy holidays, and a wonderful new year, to all of SAMart’s readers.

Yius (coiled basket), 1900-1940, Susan Wawatkin Bedal (Sauk, 1865-1947), cedar bark, cedar root, alder bark, beargrass, huckleberry, 14 x 14 x 10 in., Gift of Jean Bedal Fish and Edith Bedal, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2005.106, © Susan Wawatkin Bedal, Photo: Paul Macapia. Currently on view in the Native American art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown.
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SAMart: An overlooked Chinese artist

Named for a 17th-century Chinese poem, this painting comes from the “Song of Lake Yuan” series. The poem is a lamentation for the good times the author and his peers experienced before the upheaval of regime change. Echoing 17th-century woodblock illustrations of epic novels, painter Lu Wujiu illustrates the poem’s 26 verses with vivid imagery that dramatizes the sentiment portrayed in each verse.

The daughter of a prominent Chinese figure painter, Lu Wujiu was drawn to abstract painting in her own career. She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1950s, where she began to define her style of synthesis between West and East. Her mentor there praised her ability “to see the analogies between traditional Chinese attitudes and the vigour of contemporary western abstract expressionism.”

Lu Wujiu’s work is currently on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum as part of Elles: SAM—Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists.

 

Elles-related lecture tomorrow:

Victoria Haven: Portable Monuments
Members Art History Lecture Series: Curator’s Choice in conversation with Catharina Manchanda
Wednesday, December 12, 7–8:30 pm
Plestcheeff Auditorium, SAM downtown

Artist Victoria Haven and Catharina Manchanda, the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, will discuss ideas relating to the works presented in Haven’s installation in the exhibition Elles: SAM—Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists. Haven utilizes ephemeral objects of personal significance to map her experience and memory to a larger artistic and cultural history that remains grounded in the Pacific Northwest.

The Song of Lake Yuan (one page), 1993-2005, Lu Wujiu (Chinese, lives and works in U.S., born 1918), ink on paper, 23 5/8 x 38 9/16 in., Gift of Wu-Chiu Lu and Shih-Du Sun, 2012.7.2.1, © Lu Wujiu. Currently on view in Where Have They Been? Two Overlooked Chinese Female Artists, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park.
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SAMart: Abstract and American

The multiplicity of things which lie in no man’s land just beyond the realm of appearances enchants me.

-Charmion von Wiegand, 1947

Charmion von Wiegand was among a dedicated band of U.S. supporters of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.  Mondrian spent his final four years (1940-1944)  in New York City, and von Wiegand became one of his closest friends.  Von Wiegand’s career as a painter followed Mondrian’s arrival in New York in 1940, and she exhibited frequently from 1942 onward.  Her best works, dating from the mid- to late-1940s, merges the structure of geometry with a ceaseless flow of organic shapes. Von Wiegand regularly exhibited with the American Abstract Artists group, which formed the core of support for U.S. abstract art before the emergence of the abstract expressionists.

Abstraction, 1945, Charmion von Wiegand (American, 1898-1983), tempera on board, 19 3/4 x 15 in., Gift of Zoe Dusanne, 60.54, © Charmion von Wiegand. Currently on view in Elles: SAM – Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists, Modern and Contemporary art galleries, third floor, SAM downtown.
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SAMart: Maasai Women Artists

A wedding is the moment for defining feminine beauty in many cultures. Among Maasai women, a bride is given all the ornaments she needs to begin her new life. The art in this case was created by Maasai women from the Merrueshi community of the Kaputiei section of Kenya. Their intent was to demonstrate how a bride’s costume is a personalized collection of beadwork, stories and wishes for the future. Each is composed of cowhide, glass beads, wire and plastic dividers.

One aspect of Maasai aesthetics is immediately evident. Colors-and their order of placement-are carefully controlled, both due to their meaning and to the need for balance in the interaction of opposites. Certain colors are designated as strong or weak and must not be placed side by side. Nothing is meant to be continuous or unbroken, because mixture is a fact of life and needs to be recognized in the patterns.

Over necklace (Ololuaa), Naramat ene Mure (Maasai, Merrueshi community, Kaputiei section, Kenya), leather, glass beads, aluminum dangles, 16 x 6 3/4 x 1/8 in., General Acquisition Fund, 2000.12.11. Currently on view in the African Art galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown.
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SAMart: Giving thanks

The Seattle Art Museum gives thanks for the hundreds of women artists whose work we collect and display, including the many talented artists currently included in Elles: Pompidou and Elles: SAM.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

The Seattle Art Museum is closed on Thursday, 22 November, in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. We are open on Friday, 23 November, our normal hours (10:00am – 9:00pm).

Circumvolution, ca. 1943, Helmi Juvonen (American, 1903-1985), tempera on canvas, 24 x 36 in., Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 43.32. Not currently on view.
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