All posts in “Renaissance”

Volunteer Spotlight: Charlotte Beasley

Volunteer Spotlight: Charlotte Beasley

We can’t imagine what SAM would be without our hundreds of volunteers. Besides making the museum run, our volunteers are a talented bunch! Charlotte Beasley, for instance, is a robotics wiz at school and a coat check volunteer at SAM. One of our youngest volunteers, we asked Charlotte to answer a few questions about what it means to her to volunteer at SAM. Read below and share your reaction to the art at SAM with her the next time you pick up your umbrella at the end of your visit!

SAM: What is your current role?

Charlotte Beasley: I am a coat check volunteer at the downtown location.

How long have you been volunteering at SAM?

Since December 2016 (almost a year!)

If you could give only one reason, what do you most like about volunteering at SAM?

My favorite thing about volunteering at SAM is getting happy reactions of guests first hand. At the coat check, I am the first and last person people see, and I can chat with them on how much they loved the exhibits. I love that art makes people happy, and we do a good job of making people happy at the SAM.

Is there a favorite short story relating to volunteering at SAM you would like to share?

There are so many good stories, even though it’s been less than a year. I am on my high school’s robotics team, Reign Robotics. I was working coat check when a group of kids from Top Gun Robotics came in, wearing their team t-shirts. We got chatting about this year’s season, and we ran into each other again at a competition. They remembered me, even when I was out of team uniform when we first met! Small world, huh?

What is your favorite piece of art in SAM’s collection, and why?

I can’t just choose one piece of art, there are too many good ones! I was a huge fan of  Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style  last year. I visited with my AP French class shortly before I actually started volunteering at the SAM and the different outfits were so colorful and interesting! My family and I are also huge fans of going through European Renaissance art and giving each piece funny alternate titles based on the poses (we love when paintings and statues look like they’re taking selfies).

When not at SAM, what do you do for fun?

I make my own art in my free time (when I’m not playing video games). If you come to SAM on a slow day, you might see me sketching on my Surface. I do a lot of cute, digital art inspired by games, books, movies, etc., and have recently created my own website. Go check it out!

What is something that most people might not immediately know about you?

I am a tiny pacifist, but I also know Kung Fu (only for self-defense purposes, don’t worry!)

What is a simple hack, trick, or advice that you’ve used over time to help you better fulfill your role?

I am just shy of five feet tall, which can make getting large bags out of cubbies or the overhead bins difficult, but not impossible. My strategy is to grab what I can and use gravity and the edge of the cubby to make the bag fall into my arms. This can scare people, since I’m so tiny, but if I do it right, I can carry a lot of bags to the counter. People always apologize for the weight of their bags, but it’s honestly fine; my school books are heavier anyways, so I have lots of practice lifting heavy things!

What are the some steps you take to ensure that you are most effective during your shift?

Charlotte’s Coat Check Plan:

Step One: Look outside to see if it’s raining. If so, expect umbrellas (and lots of them).
Step Two: Sign in.
Step Three: Say “hi” to your fellow volunteers!
Step Four: Analyze the number of bags in the cubbies and ask yourself if you will have to get creative with bag placement or not.
Step Five: Get to work!

– Jenny Woods, Manager of Volunteer Programs


Object of the Week: Father Time

Lurking deep in SAM’s dark halls, a scythe-wielding, wizened figure strides toward you—and he can’t wait to turn the clocks back on Sunday.

As an allegory meant to inspire ruminations on aging, Father Time figures as part of a larger story of allegory in the fine and decorative arts of the 18th century. In paintings and sculpture, as in porcelain, personifications of the four seasons, four elements, four (known) continents, five senses, and twelve months acted out their meaning by looking the part and carrying symbolic items. Artists tapped into established systems of iconography—such as Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia (1603), which established fundamental characteristics for allegories of the four continents—to create these groupings. For collectors and connoisseurs, the challenge of spotting every symbolic reference in the appearance and accoutrements of the figure provided an opportunity to show off one’s learning.

"Father Time", ca. 1745, Meissen manufactory

Here, the German porcelain figure of Father Time combines a couple of symbolic and mythological traditions in an allegorical mishmash that honors an 18th-century tradition of incorporation. His bald dome, resplendent in hard paste porcelain, marks his advanced age. Wisps of hair cascading over his ears and the long locks of a flowing beard complete his look. He’s not a harvester of death, as his threatening scythe might suggest. The scythe symbol developed from a lack of verbal distinction between the Greek god of agriculture, named Cronus, and their word for time, chronos. Father Time’s wings were a contribution by Renaissance artists to an already confused allegory. A youthful boy lounges at his feet, grasping a yellow flower. The boy’s presence, and the flower, mimicking humanity’s life cycle at an accelerated tempo, reminded viewers that age, and his companion death, would come for all.

Appropriately meta, Father Time presents a watch holder in his left hand. Originally the porcelain figure would have served to store and display a pocket watch, and in the symbolic program of the artwork, the pocket watch fills the place of the hourglass that one would expect to find in representations of Father Time.

"Father Time", ca. 1745, Meissen manufactory

As it allegorizes and visualizes time, SAM’s porcelain figure enters into a long tradition that includes masterpieces dating back to the Renaissance, like Bronzino’s An Allegory of Venus and Cupid. That it aims to incorporate an actual time-keeping element places it more in the line of contemporary thinking. One of the notable, innovative works to do this recently is Christian Marclay’s video installation The Clock (a portion of which can be viewed here). In the same vein, Maarten Baas’s Analog Digital Clock comprises a video work in which the artist manually creates a representation of a digital clock, continually painting, obscuring, and then re-painting the clock’s minute digits as they pass.

However you’re keeping time this weekend, I say forget counting minutes and make your minutes count.

–Jeffrey Carlson, SAM Collections  Coordinator

Image: Father Time, ca. 1745, Meissen manufactory, German, hard paste porcelain, height: 14 1/2 in. Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Martha and Henry Isaacson, 91.103, Photos: Natali Wiseman.