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Muse/News: SAM on the syllabus, Indigenous authors, and fashion under quarantine

SAM News

Seattle Times food writer Jackie Varriano opens the syllabus on legendary restaurant Canlis and their new “community college,” a series of programs to support the restaurant as well as FareStart. Among the “core curriculum,” PE classes, and top-notch cafeteria food, look out for SAM curator Catharina Manchanda’s talk on SAM’s fall exhibitions——featuring collector Virginia Wright and artists Barbara Earl Thomas—on Wednesday, October 21.

Local News

Special to the Seattle Times, Seattle Public Library’s David Wright has recommendations for seven audiobooks by Indigenous authors; a good idea any time, it’s especially resonant in time for Indigenous Peoples’ Day next Monday.

What’s “Currently Hanging”: Inside Out by Marela Zacarías at MadArt. Well, almost hanging. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig caught a glimpse of the in-progress work—a “mesh temple to the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl, who provides strength to women during childbirth”—which opens October 15.

For her weekly editor’s letter, Crosscut’s Brangien Davis recommends some visual art to see, some Bruce Lee philosophy to consider, and some dancing from Whim W’Him created with the fraught times in mind.

“For a moment, maybe only mentally, they escape to the beach and do somersaults on wet sand. It’s a good reminder during these fraught days to take a breath, dance around the block, put a houseplant on your head.”

Inter/National News

BOMB Magazine’s fall 2020 issue is out; the visual arts section features an interview with Trenton Doyle Hancock—whose work has graced the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion—about his forthcoming graphic novel, which expands the artist’s narrative universe.

A 25-minute listen: Hyperallergic editor-in-chief Hrag Vartanian interviews National Gallery of Art director Kaywin Feldman on the controversial decision to delay the international tour of a Philip Guston retrospective.

Artnet’s Melissa Smith looks at artist residencies established by high-profile Black artists, including Titus Kaphar, and how they’re reshaping the art world.

“Residencies like Kaphar’s provide young artists an environment outside of art school—where the proportion of Black students (and faculty) still generally maxes out in the single digits—to hone their craft while not second-guessing their worth. ‘It’s just really draining to try to change it all on your own time when really all you want to do is focus on your work,’ says Tajh Rust, a former Black Rock fellow and Yale School of Art alum.”

And Finally

For Seattle Met, boutique owner Adria Garcia interrogates the necessity of fashion under quarantine.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Amada Cruz

Object of the Week: Breakfast Series

On Monday, October 9, we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the contribution of these communities to global economy, governance, and culture. It is also a day to expose the ongoing suffering of indigenous peoples world-wide as a result of more than 200 years of colonization. In this work of art by  Sonny Assu, called Breakfast Series,  we are initially confronted by the familiar colorful cereal boxes of our youth, luring us with their smiling animal mascots promoting sugar-laden cereals. Upon closer inspection, we see that Assu has turned the pop art inspired graphics on the five boxes into commentaries about highly charged issues for First Nations people—such as the environment, land claims, and treaty rights. Tony the Tiger is composed of Native formline design elements, the box of Lucky Beads includes a free plot of land in every box, and contains “12 essential lies and deceptions.” The light-hearted presentation, upon further investigation, exposes serious social issues.

The cereal boxes and their contents become a metaphor for the unhealthy government commodity food forced upon Natives and First Nations, and that took the place of the healthy diet of fish, seafood, venison, berries, and wild greens that indigenous people thrived upon for thousands of years. Food sovereignty—the right of access and control over native foods and community health—has become an increasingly significant issue as indigenous people struggle at disproportionate rates with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

– Barbara Brotherton, Curator of Native American Art

Image: Photo: Ben Benschneider. Breakfast Series, 2006, Sonny Assu (Gwa’gwa’da’ka), Kwakwaka’wakw, Laich-kwil-tach, Wei Wai Kai, born 1975, five boxes digitally printed with Fome-cor, 12 x 7 x 3 in. each, of 5, Gift of Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2006.93, © Sonny Assu.

Object of the Week: Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations

Why do we say stories are woven?

They are built from many parts that only convey our meaning when arranged just so. A story is like a blanket—another woven object—with its threads arranged precisely for bodily comfort and visual delight. In Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations, artist Marie Watt has woven together the stories of a wide range of people in an impressive, inviting stack of blankets. For Watt, a daughter of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation, Native culture provides a source of inspiration for community-focused works like this one.

Blankets strike emotional chords within many of us. For most everyone, the sight of a blanket brings on the thought of a story, and then its telling. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, here’s a sampling of some visitor revelations inspired by Marie Watt’s Blanket Stories:

“The rough wool blankets remind me of bundling up on sea voyages to ward off the bitter, crisp chill of the Baltic Sea. It was the blanket that could save your life and keep you from hyperthermia for an extra 30 minutes in hopes of rescue. For me however, it brought me closer to my ancestry of fisherman clans and an ocean women that sometimes feels so far away for an immigrant raised on foreign shore. —CVF”

“When I see these blankets it fills my mind with memories of my mother and grandmother. Making forts with the blankets and being sick and feeling them against my face. —Mariel Grumby, 2007”

“One of the wool blankets reminds me of an old army blanket belonging to my dad. I loved the weight of the blanket, despite its scratchy surface. It provided warmth and smiles and a sense of security—all the wonderful characteristics of my father. —J. Mainer, 10-8-2007”

“When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I lost my baby blanket on a family vacation to Disneyland. It remains on of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood. –KB”

“When I see this stack of blankets, I have an overwhelming compulsion to charge it, like a bull to a matador. I imagine that when I make contact I will scream, ‘Yeeeeeaarrrgh!’ and throw my arms upward like the wings of a triumphant war bird, flinging blankets in all directions and giving the surrounding land a fuzzy-warm feeling. Sincerely, The Unknown Guard”

“I live in New York City, and one day found a homeless woman in front of my house…with nothing to protect her from the elements. I went upstairs and got a blanket off my bed and gave it to her. I sometimes wonder what ever happened to that blanket. I loved it.”

“Every blanket looks important. I’d like to unfold each one and snuggle with it a little. I have my blankie, which was given to me at birth, by my parents 22 years ago. Recently, my grandma asked me how much longer I expect to carry it around with me. Without hesitation, I answered ‘forever.’ —CM & TM”

Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections Coordinator

IMAGE: Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations, 2007, Marie Watt, American, born 1967, wool blankets, satin binding, with salvaged industrial yellow cedar timber base, 150 x 40 x 40 in. Seattle Art Museum, General Acquisition Fund, in honor of the Seattle Art Museum © Marie Watt.