SAM Talks: Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems

One of the most exciting parts of hosting contemporary art exhibitions is the opportunity to welcome living and working artists to SAM to reflect on their artwork and careers directly with audiences. Throughout the three month run of Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue at SAM, we had the honor of welcoming both artists to SAM for conversations on their friendship, artistic processes, and collaborative exhibition.

If you weren’t able to get tickets to see their talks in person, you can now watch both conversations on our YouTube. Check out both conversations below for even more supplemental context following your visit to In Dialogue and be sure to catch the exhibition before it closes Sunday, January 22 at SAM!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo: L. Fried.

#SAMPhotoClub Family & Community Spotlight: Alborz Kamalizad

SAM Photo Club is almost over! With Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue closing at SAM this Sunday, January 22, we are accepting the final photo submissions to the third defining theme and motif of these legendary photographers’ artistic careers: family & community.

To incentivize you to get your last-minute submissions in and join SAM Photo Club, we’re featuring some of the family & community photos taken by SAM’s two staff photographers: Alborz Kamalizad and Chloe Collyer. Outside of photographing all SAM events, exhibitions, installations, programs, and more, Alborz and Chloe are also working professionals. Browse through a few photos taken by Alborz of their family and community below, then discover which of Carrie Mae Weems’s photographs on view in SAM’s exhibition resonates with him.

Family & Community, 2021–2022

My family emigrated from Iran when I was three years old. This made me young enough to easily assimilate into American culture. But even though the bulk of my cultural connections are American, there is Iranian culture swirling inside me as well — culture that is usually easy to ignore while walking through an American life.

With a project I’m calling Rebuilding Babel I have friends engage with artifacts of my familial culture. These objects, which are mostly meaningless to them, render the images inaccurate to who they are. Instead, these photos of friends portray a relationship between my own American and Iranian selves.

The current humanitarian crisis in Iran, as people fight for freedom and equality, has underscored both my connection to and separation from the culture I was born in.

Untitled (Woman with Daughter and Children), Carrie Mae Weems, 1990

Walking into the space where The Kitchen Table series is displayed at the Seattle Art Museum feels like walking into the middle of someone’s psyche. It’s intimate. It’s a real testament to the need to experience photography in person. Moving your body from image to image while they transport you through time cannot be experienced on a screen.

Alborz Kamalizad (he/him) is a visual artist who moves between photography, animation, documentary filmmaking, and illustration. He was born in Iran, raised in the US, and currently works as a staff photographer for the Seattle Art Museum. As a visual journalist and photographer, his work has been featured by Los Angeles’s NPR affiliate, Mother Jones Magazine, the United Nations, The Nature Conservancy, MasterClass, and the Getty.

Participate in #SAMPhotoClub by sharing your own family & community on Instagram and tagging us through Friday, January 20. Once the window for submissions closes, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram Stories.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credit: Untitled (Woman with Daughter and Children), Carrie Mae Weems, American, born 1953. Untitled (Woman and daughter with children). Kitchen Table Series. Gelatin silver print. 1990. 40 x 40 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

An Honest Approach to Art: Inye Wokoma on Reimagining SAM’s American Art Galleries

“Historically, when we say the word ‘American,’ it typically denotes white people. But the actual story of what has happened on this continent over the past half millennium is so much more complex.”

– Inye Wokoma

When deciding what artworks to include in their reinstallation of SAM’s American art galleries, SAM curator Theresa Papanikolas and co-curator Barbara Brotherton weren’t interested in including conventionally beautiful or visually engaging artworks that are typically thought of as examples of American art. Instead, they thoroughly examined every American-made artwork in SAM’s collection and its relationship to the history and evolution of the United States. To ensure the two-year project incorporated as many viewpoints as possible, the curators invited visual artist and Wa Na Wari co-founder Inye Wokoma to guest curate a gallery that captures his personal interpretation of what American art is.

In the interview above—filmed before the renovation of the galleries—Inye discusses the need to reverse society’s existing exclusionary interpretation of American art, being invited to curate a gallery at SAM, and the inspiration he found in some of the galleries’ original artworks.

Visit Inye’s gallery on view now in American Art: The Stories We Carry at SAM’s downtown location and reconsider your own definition of American art.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Chloe Collyer.

#SAMPhotoClub Family & Community Spotlight: Chloe Collyer

The third theme of SAM Photo Club is in full swing! With Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue closing at SAM on Sunday, January 22, we’re now accepting photo submissions to the final of three defining motifs of these legendary photographers’ artistic careers: family & community.

As inspiration to post your own photo and join SAM Photo Club, we’re spotlighting some of the family & community photos taken by SAM’s two staff photographers: Chloe Collyer and Alborz Kamalizad. Outside of photographing all SAM events, exhibitions, installations, programs, and more, they’re also working professionals. Scroll down to browse through a few photos taken by Chloe of their family and community and learn which of Dawoud Bey’s photographs on view in SAM’s exhibition inspires them the most!

Mom and Dogs, 2016

My family is a jumble of genetic relations and adopted relatives. I was raised by my biological mother and her parents, all four of us born and raised in Seattle, WA. My grandparents are Maddog and Robyn Collyer; two animals that probably shouldn’t nest together but somehow find a balance. My grandad is a funny prankster, a songwriter who plays piano, bass, guitar and for some reason collects flashlights. My grandma is a soft spoken Jeopardy genius and angelic in every way.

Maddog at Night, 2019

Cribbage with Grandparents, 2022

Friends in Laughter, 2022

My oldest friend is my godbrother Ardent has been by my side since sixth grade. We are stuck together for life. He is my most reliable comedian, hype man and supporter over the years.

The Birmingham Project: Wallace Simmons and Eric Allums, 2012

Another symmetrically balanced image from Bey, this time balancing two generations of the African American community in a mirrored image. The poses match, the light source reversed in each side of the diptych. It’s a timeless, solemn memorial to the loss of young life in Birmingham 1963. It’s one of my favorite images of all time.

Chloe Collyer (they/them) is a photographer, journalist, and fifth-generation Seattle resident whose work is deeply connected to the history and communities of the Pacific Northwest. A natural born documentarian, their toolkit includes 15+ years behind the camera, an associate’s degree in commercial photography, and seven years of experience working as a photojournalist and photo editor. In addition to working as a staff photographer at the Seattle Art Museum, Chloe also teaches photography at Youth in Focus and Photo Center Northwest, and has had their work featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg Business, NPR, Buzzfeed, Real Change, Crosscut, and more.

Join #SAMPhotoClub by sharing your own family & community photography on Instagram and tagging us before January 20. Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram Stories.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credit: The Birmingham Project: Wallace Simmons and Eric Allums, 2012, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, archival pigment prints mounted to dibond, 40 x 64 inches (two separate 40 x 32 inch photographs), © Dawoud Bey, courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery.

Goodbye, 2022: Looking Back on an Unforgettable Year at SAM

We’re closing out another amazing year at SAM and want to thank each and every one of you for your continued support over the last year as we connected art to life in new ways across the Pacific Northwest. From beach cleanups at the Olympic Sculpture Park, Summer at SAM, endless gallery tours, SAM Remix, new exhibitions and installations—including Frisson: The Richard E. Lang & Jane Lang Davis Collection, Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective, Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time, Lauren Halsey, Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, Indigenous Matrix: Northwest Women Printmakers, Beyond the Mountain: Contemporary Chinese Artists on the Classical Forms, Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, Anthony White: Limited Liability, American Art: The Stories We Carry, and Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue—educational lectures series, community celebrations, and so much more, we couldn’t have done it without you. Browse the slideshow below for a recap of all the memories we’ve made with you this year.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023—cheers!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credits: Alborz Kamalizad, Chloe Collyer, L. Fried, and Natali Wiseman.

#SAMPhotoClub Street Photography Spotlight: Alborz Kamalizad

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue closes in less than one month at SAM! While the exhibition is on view, we’re launching #SAMPhotoClub, an Instagram campaign that asks our followers to share their favorite photographs inspired by three common motifs of these legendary American artists.

We’re now accepting submissions to the second theme of SAM Photo Club: street photography. As a way to inspire continued participation, we’re spotlighting a few street photos taken by SAM’s staff photographers Alborz Kamalizad and Chloe Collyer. Read below to see a selection of Alborz’s favorite street photographs and discover which of Carrie Mae Weems’s street images has stuck with him the most.

Street Photography, 2021–2022

Photographer Jeff Wall has said that he thinks of the snapshot as the most fundamental type of photography, and that every other photograph derives meaning by its relationship to the snapshot. I like to think about this when I’m out in public with a camera. My street photos take about as much deliberation as a snapshot: they’re instinctive and quick. But through the combination of subject matter and composition, I hope to create a gentle feeling around what city life is like.

The things that consistently draw my eye:

1. How a camera can render the many different scales of reality that exist in and around a modern city. A deep valley becomes texture. The base of a lamppost feels monumental. Buildings and signs turn into abstractions.

2. Little signs of fleeting humanity. Walking through a city we’re surrounded by other people, yes. But there is also so much evidence for things that have already happened — signs of people we did not see. I’m drawn to these tiny stories. Likewise, there are people caught at a distance or in the middle of moments that are just slightly difficult to understand because we’ve somehow missed the essence of whatever set them in motion.

In either case, I’m drawn to the infinity of possibility in a city.

Harlem Street, Carrie Mae Weems, 1976–77

This photo perfectly balances spontaneity and almost mathematical precision. The straight-on view of the buildings (probably from the middle of the street?) makes a grid-like background out of doors, windows, bricks, stairs, and the vendor’s signage. Meanwhile, the people are in an utterly casual moment of everyday life.

Alborz Kamalizad (he/him) is a visual artist who moves between photography, animation, documentary filmmaking, and illustration. He was born in Iran, raised in the US, and currently works as a staff photographer for the Seattle Art Museum. As a visual journalist and photographer, his work has been featured by Los Angeles’s NPR affiliate, Mother Jones Magazine, the United Nations, The Nature Conservancy, MasterClass, and the Getty.

Participate in #SAMPhotoClub by sharing your own street photo on Instagram and tagging us through Friday, December 20. Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram Stories. Stay tuned as we announce submissions for our final themes—family & community photography—later this week.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credit: Harlem Street, 1976–77, Carrie Mae Weems, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 5 5/16 x 8 15/16 inches, © Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Dawoud Bey: Photography that Keeps History Alive

The lens can be used all kinds of ways… Not just affirm or confirm the thing in front of the camera, but for my purposes, to actually reshape it in a subjective way.

– Dawoud Bey

How can photography be used to amplify Black voices in America? To commemorate the opening of Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue at SAM, we sat down with renowned American photographer Dawoud Bey to ask this question, talk about his friendship with Carrie Mae Weems, and discuss the significance of showing their photographs in conversation. Watch the video now to hear Bey reflect on what it means to break artistic hierarchies, bring history into our modern era, and tell the complex and powerful stories of Black Americans through a single frame. Don’t miss your chance to experience this limited-run exhibition at SAM before it closes on January 22—get your tickets before it’s too late!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image Credits: Image Credits: “The Birmingham Project: Imani Richardson and Carolyn Mickel,” 2012, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, archival pigment prints mounted to dibond, 41 x 65 ½ inches (two separate 40 x 32 inch photographs), © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Rennie Collection, Vancouver. “The Birmingham Project: Timothy Huffman and Ira Sims,” 2012, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, archival pigment prints mounted to dibond, 41 x 65 1/2 inches (two separate 40 x 32 inch photographs), © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Rennie Collection, Vancouver. “Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, Harlem, NY,” from the series “Harlem Redux,” 2016, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, archival pigment print, 40 x 48 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. “Two Women at a Parade,” 1978, printed by 1979, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, gelatin silver print, 16 5/8 x 20 5/8 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 2018.21. “Man on the B26 Bus, New York, NY,” 1986, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. “Young Man with his Hairbrush, Rochester, NY,” 1989, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 30 5/16 x 25 5/16 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. “Young Man at a Tent Revival, Brooklyn, NY,” 1989, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 30 5/16 x 25 5/16 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. “Young Girl Striking a Pose, Brooklyn, NY,” 1988, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, gelatin silver print, 24 x 20 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. “Peg’s Grandson,” Brooklyn, NY, 1988, Dawoud Bey, American, b. 1953, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches, © Dawoud Bey, Courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery.

#SAMPhotoClub Street Photography Spotlight: Chloe Collyer

While Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (November 17–January 20) is on view at SAM, we’re announcing photography submissions to three of the defining motifs of these legendary photographers’ artistic careers: self-portraits, street photography, and family & community.

With submissions to the second theme of SAM Photo Club—street photography—now open, we’re taking this time to spotlight the artwork of SAM’s two staff photographers: Chloe Collyer and Alborz Kamalizad. Although both photo-based artists are responsible for capturing all events, exhibitions, installations, programs, and more across all three SAM locations, they’re also working professionals too! Scroll down to browse through Chloe’s favorite street photos they’ve taken and learn which of Dawoud Bey’s street photographs on view in SAM’s exhibition inspires them the most!

Louis Mendes, NYC, 2016

A cherished portrait from when I met Louis Mendes, a legend in the photo world, outside of B&H in Manhattan. Famous for his lifetime dedication to polaroid street portraits in NYC, Mendes was nice enough to talk about film cameras with me and posed when I asked for his portrait. He seemed impressed by me and he took my photo free of charge.

Martin Luther King Day, 2020

Seattle is located in King County, the only jurisdiction in the USA named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so it seems fitting that documenting our annual MLK rally is a tradition for me. Documenting Seattle’s annual MLK and May Day marches are part of what shaped my eye and ethics as an emerging photographer. These events can be chaotic. I use my racing thoughts like a superpower and try to keep my eyes darting and my hands turning camera dials as needed. When I walk the streets of Seattle I think about the five generations of my ancestors who walked the same streets and the Native families who lived on this coast before that. When I document protests in Seattle streets, I think of C.H.O.P 2020 and of the 1999 WTO protests.

May Day Aztec Girl, 2018

The youngest member of CeAtl Tonalli, a traditional Aztec dance group, leads the annual May Day labor march in Seattle, Washington, 2018.

“Black Lives Matter” Black Friday,  2015

After the tragically preventable deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, various groups across the nation chose Black Friday as a day of protest for Black lives. Black Friday 2015 was the first time I remember hearing “Black Lives Matter” at a rally. 

Honor and Memory, 2021

At the height of the COVID 19, family members and allies of the MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) gather in Seattle’s southend to show the intersectionality of issues effecting Native and Black communities like substance abuse, police violence, domestic abuse and the pandemic.

Day 1, 2020

The Friday after George Floyd’s death I heard the sounds of protest outside my window and joined a crowd facing off police. This turned out to be day one of over 100 days of continuous protest in Seattle. I documented almost every day.

White Coats for Black Lives, 2020

On June 6, 2020 thousands of Seattle’s healthcare workers, medical students, and citizens marched to raise awareness of racism in healthcare.

Southend BLM March, 2020 

A march through Seattle’s Southend on June 7, 2020 brought thousands of people of all ages into the streets to call for justice for George Floyd and others killed by police. 

High School Protests, 2016

Seattle high school students walk out of class to protest the threat to DACA posed by the newly appointed Trump administration in September 2016.

A Young Man Resting on an Exercise Bike, Amityville, NY, Dawoud Bey, 1988

Is there anything more perfect than a slightly imperfect image? This photo reminds me of portraits by the photographer Steve McCurry including Afghan Girl from an infamous cover of National Geographic in 1984. Empathetic eye contact. This composition is so stable and balanced, it makes me feel extremely comfortable and yet the misalignment of the subjects eyes is impossibly imperfect. 

Chloe Collyer (they/them) is a photographer, journalist, and fifth-generation Seattle resident whose work is deeply connected to the history and communities of the Pacific Northwest. A natural born documentarian, their toolkit includes 15+ years behind the camera, an associate’s degree in commercial photography, and seven years of experience working as a photojournalist and photo editor. In addition to working as a staff photographer at the Seattle Art Museum, Chloe also teaches photography at Youth in Focus and Photo Center Northwest, and has had their work featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg Business, NPR, Buzzfeed, Real Change, Crosscut, and more.

Join #SAMPhotoClub by sharing your own street photography on Instagram and tagging us before December 30. Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram Stories. Stay tuned as we announce submissions to our final theme—family & community photography—in the coming weeks.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credit: A Young Man Resting on an Exercise Bike, Amityville, NY, 1988, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches, © Dawoud Bey, courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery.

From Hong Kong to Seattle: A Conversation with Artist Lam Tung Pang

Hong Kong-born and Vancouver-based artist Lam Tung Pang made his Seattle debut earlier this year in Beyond the Mountain: Contemporary Chinese Artist on the Classical Forms at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In September, the artist made the trip to the museum to see his artwork The Great Escape (2020) in the galleries for the first time. While in town, we sat down with the remarkable contemporary artist to talk about his pandemic-inspired kinetic installation and what it means to bring classical Chinese practices into the modern era. After you’ve watched the video, read below for even more from our conversation with the artist!


SAM: How does it feel to be showing your artwork to Seattle audiences for the first time?

LAM TUNG PANG: It’s so exciting to debut my artwork here in Seattle and especially at the Seattle Asian Art Museum! This museum features a lot of very interesting antique work, but my artwork is modern. It’s fascinating to see this all together in one museum, and I hope audiences will enjoy seeing all of this in one setting.

SAM: You worked with FOONG Ping, SAM Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art, in bringing your artwork to life. What was it like to collaborate with her from afar?

LTP: I met Ping last year when she [virtually] walked me through the gallery space and we discussed how to best display my work. It was a big challenge because I hadn’t shown my artwork in this setting before and wanted to add in new elements. So, the version of The Great Escape that you’re seeing now at the Seattle Asian Art Museum was made especially for this exhibition and the audiences here. In working with Ping, I was talking to someone that had a good knowledge of traditional Chinese art but at the same time was open to incorporating new and contemporary art. When you work with someone like Ping who is really passionate about art, it’s amazing.

SAM: Tell us about The Great Escape. What inspired this work?

LTP: It came together in 2020 during the pandemic. I couldn’t really go back to my studio at the time, so I began copying drawings I saw in children’s books as an escape from reality. I then took all of these drawings and turned them into an installation. What I suggest audiences look at specifically is the one row of drawings that is taken out of the installation and hung on the wall. When you look at the rotating projection, eventually you’ll see a gap, which the light passes through and illuminates the wall in the gallery space. This isn’t a high-tech synchronized setting, but you do see different images project alongside the drawings on the wall. So, please come spend a bit more time looking at The Great Escape because you’ll have a totally different experience every time you see it.

A version of this interview first appeared in the January 2023 edition of SAM Magazine and has been edited for our online readers. Become a SAM member today to receive our quarterly magazine delivered directly to your mailbox and other exclusive member perks.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photos: L. Fried.

#SAMPhotoClub Self-Portrait Spotlight: SAM Photographer Alborz Kamalizad

SAM’s photographers are getting in on the fun of SAM Photo Club too! While Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (November 17, 2022–January 20, 2023) is on view at SAM, we’re announcing photography submissions to three of the defining motifs of these legendary photographers’ artistic careers: self-portraits, street photography, and family & community.

Submissions to our first theme, self-portraits, are now open and will close this Friday, December 9. As we continue to round up submissions received from SAM’s Instagram community, we’re taking this time to highlight a few self-portraits by SAM staff photographer Alborz Kamalizad and asking him to share his favorite portrait by either Dawoud Bey or Carrie Mae Weems.

Self-Portrait, 2022

For me, self-portraiture is a strange photographic endeavor — in order to make a self-portrait a painter or sculptor doesn’t (and can’t) physically get out in front of their own art-making process like a photographer can (and has to). I’ve never tried to make self-portraits before so the #SAMPhotoClub presented a good reason to try. It was a daunting task at first, so I decided to think of a theme to bounce off of to help me get started.

I’ve recently relocated to the Seattle area from Los Angeles so where I am physically and the idea of “home” is top of mind. I’ve also been working on a separate photo project that has to do with our relationship with, and distance from, the natural world. With those two broad ideas in mind, an off-camera flash, and a self-timer on the camera shutter, I created these.

Self and Shadow, New York, NY, 1980, Dawoud Bey, 1980

It’s reassuring that probably everyone who’s ever had a camera in their hands has at some point taken a picture of their own shadow. These photographs aren’t only self-portraits, they also capture the presence of the camera, where the person is, and the sun. All are in perfect physical alignment.

Alborz Kamalizad (he/him) is a visual artist who moves between photography, animation, documentary filmmaking, and illustration. He was born in Iran, raised in the US, and currently works as a staff photographer for the Seattle Art Museum. As a visual journalist and photographer, his work has been featured by Los Angeles’s NPR affiliate, Mother Jones Magazine, the United Nations, The Nature Conservancy, MasterClass, and the Getty.

Join #SAMPhotoClub by sharing your own self-portrait on Instagram and tagging us through December 9. Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram stories. Stay tuned as we announce submissions for our next two themes—street photography and family & community photography—in the coming weeks.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credit: Self and Shadow, New York, NY, 1980, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches, © Dawoud Bey, courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery.

#SAMPhotoClub Self-Portrait Spotlight: SAM Photographer Chloe Collyer

Amateur photographers, professional photographers, with a camera, or with an iPhone—#SAMPhotoClub is for everyone! While Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (November 17, 2022–January 20, 2023) is on view at SAM, we’re announcing photography submissions to three of the defining motifs of both of these legendary photographers’ careers: self-portraits, street photography, and family & community.

Submissions to our first theme, self-portraits, are now open, and we’re taking the opportunity to highlight a few self-portraits by SAM’s staff photographers and also asking them to offer some insight into their favorite portraits by Dawoud Bey or Carrie Mae Weems. First up: Chloe Collyer!

Camera Techs, 2015

This is a moment of reflection at my old workplace called CameraTechs. Shortly after graduating from photo school I was working at the camera repair shop and had bought a new Sony mirrorless camera. Both my career and my camera were brand new.

Trans People are Divine, 2022

A self-portrait one month after receiving gender-affirming top surgery. I hold the words “Trans people are divine” to honor the ‘Black Trans Prayer Book,’ a publication of stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations used by Black trans and non-binary people.

First Self-Portrait, Carrie Mae Weems, 1975

In this photograph, Weems leans against a white pillar—the symbol of strength, a spinal cord, and long-lasting Greek architecture—but her pose is gentle and protective. This photograph has such strong tonal blacks and whites that, when I unfocus my eyes, I see a white square with a small black hole in the middle. Holes can mean something is missing; they can be windows to look through. In this case I see both, I see every woman here.

Chloe Collyer (they/them) is a photographer, journalist, and fifth-generation Seattle resident whose work is deeply connected to the history and communities of the Pacific Northwest. A natural born documentarian, their toolkit includes 15+ years behind the camera, an associate’s degree in commercial photography, and seven years of experience working as a photojournalist and photo editor. In addition to working as a staff photographer at the Seattle Art Museum, Chloe also teaches photography at Youth in Focus and Photo Center Northwest, and has had their work featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg Business, NPR, Buzzfeed, Real Change, Crosscut, and more.

Join #SAMPhotoClub by sharing your own self-portrait on Instagram and tagging us before December 9. Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram Stories. Stay tuned as we announce submissions for our next two themes—street photography and family & community photography—in the coming weeks.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo Credit: First Self Portrait, 1975, Carrie Mae Weems, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 8 5/8 x 8 5/8 inches, © Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Snap, Tag, and Share: Join SAM Photo Club!

Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems are two of the most significant photo-based artists working today. Both born in 1953, Bey and Weems explore complex visions of Black life in America through intimate portraits, dynamic street photography, and conceptual studies of folklore, culture, and historical sites.

SAM Photo Club is an engaging Instagram program where we ask our followers to snap a photo according to exhibition-related themes, tag the photo with #SAMPhotoClub, and share it to their feed. Throughout the run of Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue (November 17, 2022–January 20, 2023) at the Seattle Art Museum, we’ll announce photography submissions for three of the defining motifs of their respective careers: self-portraits, street photography, and family and community.

Every week, we’ll share a few of the photographs we’ve been tagged in on our Instagram stories. At the end of the exhibition, we’ll compile the photos we’ve received across all three categories and share them on SAM Blog!

When to participate

  • Friday, November 18: Self-portrait photography
  • Friday, December 9: Street photography
  • Friday, December 30: Family & community photography

How to participate

  • Follow SAM on Instagram and keep an eye out for each theme announcement
  • Share your photographs with #SAMPhotoClub!

Watch the teaser below to get a glimpse of what you’ll see when you visit In Dialogue at SAM beginning Thursday, November 17. Get your tickets now to find all of the inspiration you need for your own submission in SAM’s galleries!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photos: Self and Shadow, New York, NY, 1980, Dawoud Bey, American, born 1953, gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 inches, © Dawoud Bey, courtesy of Stephen Daiter Gallery. The Kitchen Table Series: Untitled (Woman and Daughter with Children), 1990, Carrie Mae Weems, American, born 1953, platinum print, 38.1 x 38.1 cm (15 x 15 in.), © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Curating Chinese Art for the Here and Now

Curating an art exhibition isn’t a competition—unless you’re a University of Washington student attending the School of Art + Art History + Design’s upper-level seminar, Exhibiting Chinese Art, taught by FOONG Ping, SAM’s Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art.

Pivoting from in-person to virtual learning, FOONG thought a little friendly competition would engage her students. She split them into teams and assigned three seemingly unrelated artworks by contemporary Chinese artists for them to research. Each team created a cohesive and imaginative exhibition framework to display the three works.

“I wanted to challenge my students, and they really impressed me,” says FOONG. “This exhibition has been in the works for a long time, but a few of their ideas have since been incorporated into the show. Beyond the Mountain wouldn’t be what it is today without their insights.”

Opening this July, Beyond the Mountain: Contemporary Chinese Artists on the Classical Forms is the latest special exhibition to open at the renovated and reimagined Seattle Asian Art Museum. Introducing Chinese artists never before exhibited at SAM as well as drawing from the museum’s collection, the exhibition sees artistic themes of the past revitalized. It explores age-old subjects such as Chinese ink painting, proverbs, and landscapes while reflecting upon current or recent events—from the global language of street protests to escape in a time of contagion. Together, the artists contemplate the societal toll of modernity and globalization as well as the impact of humans on the natural world.

One of the works FOONG is most excited to see back on view is Ai Weiwei’s Colored Vases (2010). An acclaimed contemporary artist and outspoken dissident, Ai dipped nine earthenware vases into buckets of industrial paint and then left them to dry. In covering the surface of these purportedly ancient artifacts with bright new paint, Ai suggests that our perceptions of authenticity are a status quo that might be challenged. Much like history, he says, the vases are “no longer visible, but are still there.”

Another highlight are two videos by Yang Yongliang. From afar, these large-scale projections look like classical ink paintings—until you realize that they are actually digital pastiche of video and photography where construction cranes and other modern interventions disturb the majestical natural scene.

“The exhibition is about this moment in our lives,” says FOONG. “These Chinese artists engage with classical Chinese themes, but they speak to everyone.”


Read below for a short interview with exhibition curator FOONG Ping on visitors can expect to experience in the galleries.

SAM: What artwork are you most excited for audiences to see and interact with in the galleries?

FOONG Ping: With this exhibition, I’m introducing Seattleites to an artist new to us: Lam Tung Pang. He has created a site-specific installation in one of our galleries that I really think is going to blow people’s minds. It’s titled The Great Escape and responds directly to his experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong. To escape the stress of the 2020 lockdown, Pang started reading kids’ books and also became fascinated with the master of escape, Harry Houdini. The artwork reflects this specific time in our lives and his thinking about the ways we might free ourselves from constraints—mental & physical—that bind us. I’m confident that the piece goes beyond expectations when people think about Chinese art.

SAM: You’ve described this exhibition as both traditional and modern Chinese artistic forms. How is this seen throughout the exhibition?

FP: Everyone has certain stereotypes about Chinese art—including Chinese folks! Although there are common Chinese artistic elements of ink-brush painting and images of landscape, Beyond the Mountain is so much more than that. The artists in this exhibition have taken these identifiable ideas from Chinese art and transformed them for a modern audience. This exhibition is intentionally small and precise, so visitors can deeply explore each artwork’s clear and distinct voice.

SAM: What message do you want audiences to take away from this exhibition?

FP: I want audiences to understand the legacies of Chinese art, language, and culture and how these legacies remain incredibly relevant today. No matter a visitor’s background, Beyond the Mountain reveals the existence of a global common language, where everyone can reflect on Chinese history and make a connection to their own experiences.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Segments of this article first appeared in the July and October 2022 editions of SAM Magazine and has been edited for our online readers. Become a SAM member today to receive our quarterly magazine delivered directly to your mailbox and other exclusive member perks.

Images: Alborz Kamalizad & Natali Wiseman.

Alberto Giacometti: Head of a Man in Profile

Although Alberto Giacometti is most often remembered for his towering statues and landscape paintings, the artist began every new project with a sketch. Preferring either a ballpoint pen or pencil, he referred to the act of drawing as the “basis” for all of his artworks.

In Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure—the extensive retrospective which shares its name with the ongoing special exhibition at SAM and is available for purchase at SAM Shop—contributing writer Catherine Grenier writes of Giacometti: “The numerous drawings he made of the same motif show the simplification he carried out in his sculptures… In many of them, the natural movement, the inclination of the body, the folding of the leg show that they are drawings made while looking at scenes in the street” (33).

Guided by SAM Museum Educator Lauren Kent, this audio recording from SAM’s smartphone tour Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure guides visitors in a close-looking activity at one of Giacometti’s sketches, Head of a Man in Profile. Visit SAM’s downtown location through Sunday, October 9 to experience Toward the Ultimate Figure and listen to all seven stops in the audio tour.

Head of a Man in Profile, ca. 1959

NARRATOR: Giacometti once said that ‘drawing is the basis for everything’. Here’s SAM educator Lauren Kent on Head of a Man, a lively portrait in ballpoint pen.

MUSEUM EDUCATOR LAUREN KENT: Take a moment to stand in front of this drawing and take it in with your eyes. Zoom in to notice the details of the lines and marks on the paper. Let yourself get lost in these details. Then, zoom out to notice how it all comes together. Take out your finger to draw in the air. Find a starting point and trace the path of the lines that you see. Experiment with moving very slowly, like an ant walking along its path (voice slows down). Now, speed up and move quickly, chasing everywhere Giacometti drew with his ballpoint pen.

What shapes, angles, and movements does your finger make? Which areas do you return to and repeat over and over again? Which areas don’t you touch at all?

How do you think Giacometti was feeling when he made this drawing? What was the energy in the studio like? Do you think that he knew this model? What do you see that makes you say that?

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Head of a Man in Profile, ca. 1959, Alberto Giacometti, Swiss, 1901–1966, blue ballpoint pen on paper, 65 × 19.3 cm, Fondation Giacometti, © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.

Alberto Giacometti: Walking Man I & Tall Woman IV

In 1958, Alberto Giacometti was invited to compete for a public artwork for the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. Envisioning three outdoor sculptures including a Large Head, a Tall Woman, and a Walking Man, Giacometti set out to make them in plaster. After a year of several attempts—three versions of Walking Man, four of Tall Woman, and two of Large Head—Giacometti abandoned the commission due to his dissatisfaction with the results.

Discussing the abandoned project, Giacometti was quoted as saying, “I can see they are a failure, or rather, not fully achieved—they are all wide off the mark in a big way.” Despite the artist’s self-assessment, the sculptures were soon celebrated as some of his most iconic works.

In SAM’s ongoing exhibition, Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, Giacometti’s initial vision for the plaza is recreated with Walking Man I, Tall Woman IV, and the addition of Dog (Le Chien) (1951). In this audio recording, SAM Educator Yaoyao Liu guides visitors through a close-looking exercise of the two towering artworks Giacometti envisioned for the Chase Manhattan Plaza. Listen to all seven stops of the smartphone tour when you visit Toward the Ultimate Figure at SAM’s downtown location through October 9.

Walking Man I (1960) & Tall Woman IV (1960)

NARRATOR: Commissioned together in 1958, Walking Man I and Tall Woman IV were intended as outdoor sculptures for New York City’s Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza. Though the sculptures were never delivered, this initial context can help us think about how they relate to one another. Here’s SAM Educator Yaoyao Liu to guide you in a close looking exercise.

YAOYAO LIU: In the gallery, take time to move slowly around each sculpture, taking in details such as color, texture, and form. Then move back and view the two sculptures as a pair. What did you notice looking up close at each one, then seeing both at the same time? Where do you see connections between these two sculptures? And where do you see differences?

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: L. Fried.

In the Studio with Anthony White

Hiding within the busy city streets of Pioneer Square sits an intimate artist’s studio unlike any other. In this small, square room, SAM 2021 Betty Bowen Award winner Anthony White creates mesmerizing paintings crammed with products, name brand logos, and digital icons that assess our increasingly intertwined analog and digital lives.

“It’s my happy place,” says White. “It’s nice to have a space that’s reserved only for creating art.”

White spends most of his days in this space. It’s quiet and personal, with an ever-rotating array of his creations adorning the walls. It’s here that many of his completed artworks sit before they’re delivered to their next—or final—destinations. In the back corner sits a small desk, a focused space where White first sketches his paintings. Pink, brown, blue, green, purple, yellow, and more, endless rolls of polylactic acid—White’s medium of choice and the same material used in the 3D printing process—occupy the other corner, adding a pop of color to the room. A black leather couch hides next to the door, a place for guests to sit, talk, model.

“I don’t have many guests,” says White. “It’s only when I’m collaborating with someone or asking a friend to model that someone else is in here with me. Otherwise, it’s just me and my art.”

Where White spends the most of his time, however, is in the center of the room. With an unfinished canvas sitting on a sawhorse, it’s here that White paints. With his headphones in, White will work anywhere from eight to 10 hours a day. Circling the canvas, he is precise and careful with each line of polylactic acid he paints.

From his studio to museum walls, experience Anthony White’s breathtaking artwork on view in Anthony White: Limited Liability at SAM’s downtown location through January 29, 2023. Meet the artist and hear from him in SAM’s galleries on Thursday, September 15 at 6:30 pm as we celebrate the opening of White’s first solo exhibition at SAM. There’ll be a public reception in the Susan Brotman Forum with a bar and music by Seattle’s own DJ Housepartysea. Reserve your tickets to this free event—space is filling up fast!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo: L. Fried.

Alberto Giacometti: Man with a Windbreaker

In Alberto Giacometti’s never-ending pursuit of a new vision of the human form, the artist often turned to nature for inspiration. Many of his early artworks—most notably in his paintings and sketches—focused on the dynamic landscapes of his upbringing in Stampa, Switzerland. This motif remained as his career progressed, yet his exploration with nature and man’s relationship to it was explored in new ways.

With its tiny head perched on an oversized mound, of which only the figure’s arms can be identified, Man with a Windbreaker (1953) is one of Giacometti’s sculptures which best demonstrates his evolving relationship to nature. While he experimented with scale, texture, and perspective in nearly all of his artworks during this artistic period, this sculpture stands out for its evocation of a geological concretion, with some scholars going so far as to call it a stalagmite.

In this audio recording, SAM Associate Director of Interpretation Erika Katayama discusses Man with a Windbreaker, comparing the rough texture of the mound to a “rocky mountainside.” Tune in to this, and seven other audio recordings which accompany artworks on view in Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, when you visit the exhibition at SAM’s downtown location through October 9.

Man with a Windbreaker, 1953

NARRATOR: Giacometti’s experimentations with scale and texture come to the fore in Man with a Windbreaker. Associate Director of Interpretation Erika Katayama:

ERIKA KATAYAMA: At this point in his career, Giacometti is constantly manipulating perspective and scale as a means for him to capture his vision of the human figure. Notice the dramatic contrast of proportion in this sculpture. The tiny head sits atop a large, almost mountainous body. The rough texture of his clothes reminds me of a rocky mountainside. As a viewer, this gives us the illusion that the body of the man is close to us, looming large, whereas the tiny head is far away.

VOICE OF GIACOMETTI: For me, any deformation is entirely involuntary. I simply try to recreate what I see. My struggle is to grasp and possess an appearance that constantly escapes me. I try to express what I see, but unfortunately I never manage to make something that truly resembles it.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo: Man with a Windbreaker, 1953, Alberto Giacometti, Swiss, 1901–1966, bronze, 50 × 28.6 × 22.5 cm, Fondation Giacometti, © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.

Alberto Giacometti: The Cage

In both his paintings and sculptures, Alberto Giacometti used the architectural device of a cage to surround and outline specific constraints for his artistic vision. While Giacometti used a physical frame to demarcate the borders of his paintings, in his sculptures, the artist built physical cages in which to constrain his artworks. First utilized in Cage (1930–31) and Suspended Ball (1930–31), Giacometti returned to the idea of the enclosure as a framing device nearly twenty years later as he began to think more deeply about the self-referential interior of the sculpture compared to its surroundings.

The Cage, First Version is reminiscent of a display case. The upper portion presents a figure and a bast as if laid out in a vitrine. The standing figure is not proportional to the considerably larger head, thus disrupting a reading of these figures within a conventional perspectival space. Placed at the outer edge, the standing figure holds on to the armature that marks the perimeter, looking out beyond. The cage, just as the figures themselves, are composed of the same nubby bronze texture that Giacometti is often recognized for.

Listen to the audio recording above to hear SAM Associate Director of Interpretation Erika Katayama discuss Giacometti’s continuous use of cages, frames, and proportionality throughout his artistic career. All eight audio recordings—produced by the Seattle Art Museum as part of the free smartphone tour of Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure—can be found by scanning the QR codes accompanying selected artworks on view in the exhibition through October 9.

The Cage, First Version, 1949–50

NARRATOR: Giacometti uses cages and frames as a way to further explore the relationship between the viewer and the object, the sculpture and its surroundings. Associate Director of Interpretation Erika Katayama:

ERIKA KATAYAMA: The cage functions both symbolically and psychologically in this work, forming a space which encloses the subjects within. And as a viewer, we see the standing figure and the oversized head, which are not in correct proportion to each other, yet they both exist within the bounds of the cage—and so we have to consider them in relation to one another.

NARRATOR: How does the cage shape how you view this piece? Try imagining it without the cage, what changes?

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo: The Cage, First Version, 1949–50, Alberto Giacometti, Swiss, 1901–1966, bronze, 90.5 × 36.5 × 34 cm, Fondation Giacometti, © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.

Alberto Giacometti: Tall Thin Head

“When viewed from different vantage points, Tall Thin Head seems to be two distinct heads. From the front the head is narrow; the effect is like looking straight on at a knife edge. From the side, the profile is full-bodied and dramatically silhouetted, completely contradicting the frontal view.”

– Valerie Fletcher

Alberto Giacometti used a variety of artistic devices to disrupt the viewers’ interpretation of space. His 1954 portrait bust Tall Thin Head—or Grand tête mince—was just one of a series of busts made by the artist in the 1950s which played with scale, perspective, and texture. From the front, the sculpture looks flat and vague, but when viewed from the side, however, a detailed portrait emerges revealing the angular features of a male figure.

The sculpture, modeled after his brother, Diego Giacometti, falls into a familiar trend seen across Giacometti’s artistic career. Since the beginning of his artistic life, Giacometti preferred to work with those closes to him as models, especially Diego and his wife Annette. Sitting for him required long hours of concentration, and both his brother and wife also assisted with various aspects of managing his studio and career. For the artist, working with consistent models allowed him to better pursue his vision, unveiling the stranger beneath the familiar.

This audio recording marks the third stop in SAM’s free smartphone tour which accompanies Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure. Listen now to experience a close-looking art activity led by SAM educator and teaching artist Lauren Kent and tune in to all eight stops in the tour when you visit the exhibition at SAM’s downtown location through October 9.

Tall Thin Head, 1954

NARRATOR: Perspective can change everything in a sculpture, and that rings true especially for Giacometti’s later work. Here’s SAM educator Lauren Kent to guide you in a close looking activity for Tall Thin Head.

LAUREN KENT: As you approach Tall Thin Head, position yourself so that you are in front of the sculpture, looking at the face straight on. What do you see? What do you think about what you see? What do you wonder? Does this sculpture express an emotion or remind you of anything?

Slowly move about a foot in one direction around the sculpture, then stop. What do you notice now? What do you see that you didn’t before? What has changed?

Move another foot in a circle around the sculpture and stop once more. What do you notice here? What do you see now that you didn’t before? What has changed?

Continue moving in a full circle around the head. Observe how it expands and contracts. Observe all of the different ways that it looks and feels at each angle. You can keep an eye on Tall Thin Head as you walk through the rest of this gallery.

 Lily Hansen, Marketing Content Creator


1 Alberto Giacometti: 1901-1966, Valerie Fletcher, p.180.

Image: Tall Thin Head, 1954, Alberto Giacometti, Swiss, 1901–1966, bronze, 64.5 × 38.1 × 24.4 cm, Fondation Giacometti, © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022 ALL IMAGES: © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.

Alberto Giacometti: Reliquary Figure

Alberto Giacometti’s vision of a new human form was heavily inspired by Cycladic, African, and ancient Egyptian art. In 1927, the artist purchased a sculpture from Gabon—then one of France’s colonies in West Africa—and placed it in the center of his studio. Giacometti studied such non-European works in the Parisian museums he visited, where he found himself fascinated by African sculptures that emphasized volumes and geometric voids.

Giacometti and many of his artistic peers greatly admired such artworks for their unique power and approaches to stylized form, which they thought offered visionary and radical alternatives to European academic models of representation. This admiration for non-European art’s visual power was at times marked by a lack of knowledge about the origins of works brought from the colonies to the West. Giacometti may not have known, for example, that the figure he owned once guarded sacred remains of the Kota people of Gabon. In Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, African sculptures from SAM’s private collection—including this early 20th century Reliquary Figure from Kota, Gabon—are placed alongside Giacometti’s bronze and plaster sculptures to illustrate the Giacometti’s fascination with the structure and composition of ancient African artworks.

Listen to SAM Curator of African and Oceanic Art Pam McClusky discuss the influence of artworks such as Reliquary Figure on Alberto Giacometti’s artistic development in this audio recording from SAM’s free smartphone tour of Toward the Ultimate Figure. Discover all eight recordings when you visit the exhibition at SAM’s downtown location through October 9.

Reliquary Figure, early 20th century

NARRATOR: Like many European artists living and working in Paris in the 20th century, Giacometti found inspiration in works of African sculpture. Here’s curator of African and Oceanic Art Pam McClusky on this Reliquary Figure from SAM’s collection.

PAM MCCLUSKY: Giacometti sits with a sculpture like this in his studio, as can be seen in a photo nearby. It served as a mysterious muse that transforms a face and body into dynamic forms coated with a flashing metal surface. It offered a bold fresh vision of a very strong archetype. Giacometti bought his sculpture, similar to the one in front of you, from a fellow artist in 1927, and no doubt they talked about how its inventive geometric shapes replaced anatomical correctness. Yet, what they saw was not what the Kota intended. In its original setting, this figure stood guard over a bundle of sacred ancestral remains. The reflective face was meant to draw attention to their presence and repel any harm to them. Giacometti gave this unknown agitator a place of honor, and drew inspiration from it for his own reframing of the human body.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Reliquary Figure, 20th century, Wood, copper and brass, 23 3/4 × 11 1/2 × 2 1/4 in. (60.3 × 29.2 × 5.7cm), Gift of Dr. Oliver E. and Pamela F. Cobb, 2014.3, photo: L. Fried.

Alberto Giacometti: The Mountain Road

Although Alberto Giacometti may be most remembered for his delicate yet commanding bronze sculptures and busts, his artistic career began with vibrant watercolor paintings and drawings that capture the mountainous landscape of Giacometti’s home in Stampa, Switzerland. Scenes from the village and dramatic views of the surrounding mountains are depicted in his early paintings which draw inspiration from his father, Giovanni Giacometti, a celebrated post-impressionist painter.

In The Mountain Road (ca. 1919), a thin, lavender road marks the entry point to a large, mountainous landscape. On the left, dark green trees line the road, while on the right, a telephone lines follow the road. Colors of blue, pink, red, and yellow complete the painting, depicting a segment of the Swiss Alps on a summer day. Placed beside one another, watercolor paintings such as The Mountain Road offer a striking departure from the gothic sculptures which defined his later career and illustrate Giacometti’s development as a postwar era artist.

In this audio recording, Erika Katayama, SAM Associate Director of Interpretation, discusses Giacometti’s early artistic inspirations in Switzerland and the influence of his famous father in his artistic development. Tune in to all eight recordings as part of the free smartphone tour of Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure when you visit the exhibition at our downtown location through October 9.

Photo: L. Fried.

The Mountain Road, ca 1919

ALBERTO GIACOMETTI: “I could spend every day looking at the same garden, the same trees, and the same backdrop.”

NARRATOR: Alberto Giacometti was talking about the views of his small town of Stampa, Switzerland, where he grew up surrounded by towering mountains and trees. It was there that he began his journey as an artist. Associate Director of Interpretation Erika Katayama:

ERIKA KATAYAMA: So Giacometti came from a family of artists, and his early works like this watercolor landscape, are reminiscent of the style of his father Giovanni, who was a post-impressionist painter. Alberto loved his hometown of Stampa Switzerland, and although he moved to Paris in the 1920s, he came back to visit throughout his life, drawing inspiration from the alpine landscape and channeling it into the shapes and textures of his sculptures.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: The Mountain Road, ca. 1919, Alberto Giacometti, Swiss, 1901–1966, watercolor and pencil on paper, 22 × 29 cm, Fondation Giacometti, © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.

A New Era at SAM: Welcome, José Carlos Diaz!

“I’m a total optimist. I believe museums are places where people can find inspiration. I want SAM to inspire the next generation of curators and artists and patrons. This is something that museum curators are discussing — we’ve been discussing this for years, but it’s more urgent now.”

– José Carlos Diaz

Following a months-long international search, SAM is proud to announce José Carlos Diaz as its new Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art. Diaz comes to SAM from The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to oversee SAM’s eight brilliant curators in developing thoughtful exhibitions and maintaining the museum’s collections, publications, and libraries across SAM’s downtown location, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park. He succeeds Chiyo Ishikawa who retired in 2020 after 30 years at SAM.

In celebration of his new role, we spoke with Diaz about his background, hopes for SAM, and becoming a part of Seattle’s artistic community. Read below for the full interview and check out his interview in The Seattle Times to learn even more about what Diaz will bring to SAM when he starts on July 1.

SAM: Tell us about your new role. Why is it important at a museum?

José Carlos Diaz: In this role, I will be part of the senior leadership team and responsible for ensuring we develop a relevant and ambitious curatorial program across all three of our sites. I bring management, administrative, and fundraising experience and possess a track record of creating dynamic exhibitions and projects. This role also has a direct impact on what SAM audiences will see in SAM’s galleries. The exhibitions we’ll be designing going forward will be the result of the needs and wants of our visitors and will uphold SAM’s mission of connecting art to life.

SAM: What drew you to this position, and this position with SAM, in particular?

JCD: I actually have a background working in multi-site institutions! I previously worked at Tate Liverpool, which is part of the Tate Museums in the UK. I’m also coming directly from The Andy Warhol Museum, which is part of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. So, managing the curatorial team of a multi-site institution isn’t too foreign for me.

I think what drew me most to SAM was its vast collection which spans across period and place. In college, I studied art history and cultural history. So, to have access to a collection which combines historical and contemporary art is very exciting to me. When you visit any SAM location, you’re bound to encounter a combination of painting, sculpture, drawing, architecture, costume, and more. From a curation standpoint, the versatility SAM has to offer is thrilling.

Not only that, but the museum is in the artistic center of a great American city known for having a robust cultural landscape. I think it has the potential to be one of the top art cities in the country—almost even rivaling New York or London. Plus, Seattle is home to a strong Latinx population and LGBTQ community which I am looking forward to joining and representing. I’m really excited to bring more representation to these communities at SAM and highlight the work of artists from these communities.

SAM: You’re stepping into a leadership role from a curatorial one: what lessons and skills from curation will you bring? Also, will you still be curating?

JCD: As a curator, I form ideas and craft narratives using art. This process requires creative thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, research, and a direct connection to the mission of the institution—and these are all really important skills to me. These are skills that I will bring to this new role while building a unified and creative team of curators and exhibitions. Occasionally I would love to curate if there’s the opportunity or if a certain curator needed support because of the robust exhibition and programming schedule, but I’m mostly focused on looking ahead and rebuilding a strong museum as we continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAM: Even though this will take some time to develop, what are some of your goals or ideas for this role, and overseeing a global collection and large team of curators across disciplines?

JCD: One of the top goals is understanding the internal climate at SAM and how to best contribute to its existing environment. At the same time, I want to consider what the city and its artistic community want from SAM, and how we can do better and be better. With a vast collection of artworks across three locations and the varied curatorial expertise of our team, I’d love to unify our offerings and collaborate to build awareness across the city that would allow SAM to explore a broad range of ideas and themes in its exhibitions. Perhaps some of our artworks could also travel to other cities for public art commissions, publications, and/or exhibitions.

SAM: An easy one: Why is art important?

JCD: Art, in my opinion, is a form of expression, but also a form of self-care, especially in these times. It’s as simple as that.

SAM: What role do museums serve in a city and for the communities they serve?

JCD: Museums are places to inspire and seek inspiration. They’re also social spaces which continuously evolve and improve. SAM shows historic works, but also global and local creativity through its incredible collections. It features limited-run exhibitions as well as ongoing installations, while continuously rotating its collection and introducing new narratives, often around current affairs and through multiple voices. So, using SAM as an example, I think museums in general seek civic excellence through varied representation.

SAM: Tell us more about you! Outside of art curation, what do you like to do with your time?

JCD: I’m originally from Miami, but my family is from Mexico so I’m Latin American. My husband is an oceanographer and we share a dog named Elvira, Mistress of Bark. I have a fraternal twin who’s a Latin Grammy Award-winning and Grammy-nominated children’s music artist named Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. I love to travel and go to the beach. On my time off, you can often find me on a boat or somewhere by the water. It’s just my happy place.

– Interview conducted by Lily Hansen, Marketing Content Creator

Image: Alexis Gideon.

SAM Shop Gift Guide: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! Don’t wait until the last minute to buy all of the moms and moms-to-be in your life a gift. Surprise them with a something meaningful and locally made from SAM Shop! At SAM Shop, you’ll find uncommon objects, contemporary design for your home, jewelry by local artists, and more. Read below for five gift ideas that you can buy in store or online today. Plus, stop by the shop at our downtown location or at the Seattle Asian Art Museum this Mother’s Day weekend to get a free copy of Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstract Variations with any purchase. Can’t make it to the shop in person? Browse our digital catalogue for even more locally made and crafted gifts and select priority shipping or curbside pickup to make sure your items are delivered in time for Mother’s Day. Questions? Call the shop during business hours at 206.654.3120. As always, SAM members receive 10% on all online and in store purchases.

Ocean Sole Animal Sculptures
$18–$124
Available In Store Only

Rhinos, giraffes, lions, turtles, and more—your mom will love one of these friendly animals made from washed up flip flops retrieved from the beaches of waterways in Kenya. With their animal-inspired creations, Ocean Sole recycles over one ton of styrofoam per month and saves over five hundred trees per year. Plus, 10–15% of all profits go to organizing beach cleanups, providing vocational and educational programming, and stepping up conservation efforts in Kenya. Discover the full collection of animal friends and learn more about how your Ocean Sole purchase gives back to low-income communities in Kenya in store at SAM Shop.

Artistic Creations by Marita Dingus
$60–$400
Available In Store Only

“I consider myself an African-American Feminist and environmental artist. My approach to producing art is environmentally and politically infused: neither waste humanity nor the gifts of nature.” – Marita Dingus

An in-store exclusive, Seattle-born artist Marita Dingus is a mixed-media sculptor who works primarily with discarded materials to create beautiful and one-of-a-kind artistic creations. Drawing inspiration from the African Diaspora, the discarded materials she uses represent how people of African descent were used and discarded as slaves but still managed to repurpose themselves and thrive in our hostile world. Choose from a diverse selection of handmade earrings and necklaces, or take a trip to SAM Gallery and inquire about purchasing one of her artworks for sale.

Art & Design Books
Prices Vary
Available Online & In Store

SAM Shop is your one-stop-shop for all your unique art-related book needs. Choose from coloring books, cook books, biographies, architecture books or history books and invite your mom to explore the inner workings of the art world. Interested in learning more about current and past special exhibitions at SAM? Pick up your mom an exhibition catalogue documenting the stories and artworks behind Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence, Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective, Monet at Étretat, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park: A Place for Art, Environment, and an Open Mind, and more.

Pocket Sprites
$20–$65
Available Online & In Store

Portland artisan Beth Grimsrud loves to sew and reconfigure cast-off materials into new forms. In 2003, she began using upcycled sweaters to make mittens, decorated with original appliqué designs. A one-woman operation, she puts her heart into each and every stitch. Each plush pocket sprite is carefully considered and individually designed, making each one-of-a-kind. Buy them online for $65 to get a set of three small sprites with a matching purse or visit in store at our downtown location to buy individual small and large sprites.

Orca Family Tote Bag
$18.95
Available Online & In Store

“I was raised in a way of life based on hunting, fishing, feasting, singing, dancing and visual arts.  Art has always been communicated as an expression of spirit to the connections to people and the ways of life.” – Paul Windsor

After your visit to Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water at SAM, surprise your mom with a locally printed orca 100% cotton tote bag by Haisla, Heiltsuk artist Paul Windsor. Playing off the themes explored in Our Blue Planet, help your loved ones cut down on their plastic use while supporting the work of a local Indigenous artist.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Images: Chloe Collyer.

Object of the Week: In the Superexpress Station, Atami

Just as the shinkansen, Japan’s bullet train, began to pull out of Atami station, photographer Leo Rubinfien captured the joy of high-speed rail transit in a fleeting moment. A businessman bursts out with laughter, his face framed by the black window frame and white curtains of his train carriage as he embarks on the four hour journey to Okayama along Japan’s southeastern coast. The blue horizontal paint that runs along the exterior of the train carriage draws the viewer’s eye horizontally, as if our eyes are tracing the movement of a train in-motion through a static image.

This 1984 photograph, In the Superexpress Station, Atami, is part of a series taken over an eight-year period in East and Southeast Asia in Rubinfien’s attempt to subjectively present and characterize his surroundings. Having spent his early life in Tokyo, Rubinfien moved through over seven countries between 1979 and 1987. His images tell a compelling and truthful, yet un-romanticized story of the people and culture he encounters on this trip. The subjects of his images—including both tourists and locals—are said to successfully depict “how the East views itself,” while simultaneously illustrating “how the West constantly assaults but never quite conquers it.”

Rubinfien’s photographs were last on view in SAM’s galleries over 27 years ago in Leo Rubinfien: A Map of the East. However, today, they are just as relevant as ever. As contemporary documentary photographers still grapple with questions of “othering” and face the challenges of conveying lived experiences without appropriation through a single snapshot, Rubinfien’s photographs act as a blueprint. Similarly, as local transport systems across the globe continue to expand, and we become more cognizant of the impending doom that is the planet-wide climate crisis, rail transportation is more important than ever. Rubinfien, through both In the Superexpress Station, Atami and other images in his series, relays questions surrounding pollution, transportation, and globalization over the last 30+ years to viewers. Rubinfien captures people and moments, despite decades aged, that remain topical and vibrant to contemporary discussions.

– Arielle Murphy, SAM Accessibility Lead

Images: In the Superexpress Station, Atami, Leo Rubinfien, 1984, American, Born 1952, Kodak Type C print, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 60.96 cm). Gift of Lee Friedlander, 93.88. A Watch Repairer’s, Chungking, 1984, Leo Rubinfien, American, born 1953, Kodak Type C print, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 60.96 cm), Gift of Lee Friedlander, 93.92. On The Breakwater At Kenceran Beach During Idul Fitri, Surabaya, 1982, Leo Rubinfien, American, born 1953, Kodak Type C print, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 60.96 cm), Gift of Lee Friedlander, 93.93.

Celebrate Earth Day with SAM!

Looking for more ways to learn about our local and global environments following your visit to Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water at SAM? Although Earth Day may only officially be celebrated on Friday, April 22, organizations across the Pacific Northwest are holding events throughout April which honor our planet, give back to our local communities, and inspire movement in the outdoors. From beach cleanups and virtual educational lectures to in-person celebrations and runs of varying distances, read below to find just a few of the many earth-focused events taking place this month.

FRI APRIL 15

HERE | Helping Each-Other Remember Earth
5:30 – 10 PM
The Collective Seattle

HERE is an evening of spoken word, song, and tabling from local organizations centered around social and climate justice. Presented by U Productions, Hearth Revial, Abbey Arts, and The Collective, this one-night-only is intended to spark inspiration, connect people to new ways of plugging in, and build community around actively embodying our values. Hosted by singer-songwriter, percussionist, and teaching artist Shireen Amini, this Earth celebration will include stories and poetry from Nikkita Oliver, The People’s Echo, Verbal Oasis, Lennee Reid, Paul Chiyokten Wagner.

SAT APRIL 16

Earth Day Run
9 AM
Magnuson Park

Start your morning right by participating in Seattle’s Earth Day Run on Saturday, April 16! Run or walk any of the many race distances while supporting the environment. Each race finisher—no matter the distance—will receive a native sapling tree to take home and will have a tree planted at the park in their honor at the tree hugger station. A Magnuson Park gardener will also be in attendance to answer all questions you may have about native plants and starting your own garden. Plus, organizers will be hosting a shoe drive, so don’t forget to bring your old running shoes to donate to Africa via the More Foundation Group.

FRI APRIL 22

Black Earth Day
2 – 7:30 PM
YES Farm!

Join the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) in celebrating Black Earth Day at YES Farm. Free and open to everyone in Seattle’s Black community, the event will feature gardening activities for all ages, and healthy meals cooked up by local Black vendors. Stop by the event to pick up a green cleaning kit to take home and learn about public health and housing resources offered by ULMS and other community organizations.

SAT APRIL 23

Washington Coast Cleanup
9 AM – 12 PM
Washington State Coast

Three times per year, Washington Coast Savers teams up with the Washington Clean Coast Alliance to conduct coordinated beach cleanups along the outer coast of Washington and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Dating back to 2007, these annual cleanups have a long and productive history of cleaning the entire Washington State coast. Choose from a number of locations across the state and help keep our beaches clean!

Earth Day at McCollum Park
9 – 11 AM
McCollum Park

Spring has sprung! Give back to the beautiful Earth we live on by helping restore 935 acres of forested parkland in Snohomish County across the next 20 years. At McCollum Park, volunteers will help clear some of the colonizing weeds like blackberry, holly, and english ivy throughout the 78-acre park of forest and wetland.

SUN APRIL 24

Earth Day at Harvey Manning Park
9 AM – 12 PM
Harvey Manning Park

Issaquah’s parks are in need of volunteers interested in spending time in nature while helping improve forest health. By 2039, city officials hope to have restored 1,540 acres of forestland, but can’t do it without your help! This Earth Day, sign up to help rid Harvey Manning Park of pesky weed species and plant native species which will thrive for years to come.

ONGOING

King County: Easy Being Green

Earth Day isn’t limited to just one day per year! King County offers online gardening tips and tricks, interactive quizzes, and a continuously-updated list of outdoor volunteer events and workshops taking place throughout the county that inspire action for environmental conservation, restoration, and stewardship. Not sure where to start in creating your own backyard garden or how to safely dispose of hazardous waste? Check here!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Natali Wiseman.

Our Blue Planet: Five Quick Questions with Claude Zervas

Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water documents the stories and histories of water in our world. Pulling exclusively from local loans and works in SAM’s permanent collection, the expansive exhibition features paintings, sculptures, textiles, and multimedia works by over 70 artists from around the world. Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll be talking with some of the contemporary artists involved with the exhibition about their artwork and the importance of water in their lives.

Born in 1963, Claude Zervas is best known for his light and video installations focusing on the topography and topology of the Pacific Northwest. In the 1980s, Claude attended Western Washington University to pursue a degree in geology and moved to Paris, France following his graduation. Although he spent many years working as a software engineer, Claude eventually decided to return to Washington and fully commit to his art practice and art production. Discover the story behind Claude’s 2005 sculpture, Nooksack, now on view in Our Blue Planet at SAM below.

1. What is your name and where are you currently based?

My name is Claude Zervas and I am based just outside of Bellingham, Washington.

2. What is the title of your artwork and how does it fit in with the themes explored in Our Blue Planet?

The title of my work is Nooksack. It’s a part of SAM’s permanent collection and has previously been on view in a couple of exhibitions at the museum. When piecing Our Blue Planet together, I think the curators thought to include my work because of its connection to one of our local waters. After deciding to include my work, I worked a bit with SAM’s conservation team to give the sculpture new life. We had to replace all of the lamps which proved difficult because the tiny little fluorescent bulbs I used are now, more or less, obsolete technology. Back in the day, they were used in scanners and back light for video displays but they’re not used so much anymore and are getting harder to find. But, I really like the delicate and thin light that they put out—nothing else really puts out that kind of light.

3. What thoughts, ideas, and/or perspectives do you want visitors to take away from your artwork in Our Blue Planet?

Nooksack stems from this really personal relationship to the Nooksack River that I had as a kid growing up near the water. And for some reason, as an adult, I still feel a kinship to it. I’m not totally sure why, but it’s a beautiful river. And this piece is an ode to the river based on my memory of it and acts as a sort of ‘thank you’ to it. In seeing my work, I want visitors to consider the bodies of water which exist around us and thank them for all that they do for us.

4. What other artworks in the exhibition stood out to you?

All of the works in this exhibition are incredible, but what really stood out to me was a quote I saw on the floor of the exhibition by Abby Yates. I don’t know why her words so deeply affected me, but they did. Just to see a voice representing the Nooksack people and the river I care about so much was a beautiful experience.

5. How do art and activism intersect? Why do you think it’s important for museums like SAM to curate exhibitions around environmental and societal issues such as water?

I’m not much of an activist but I think we can all agree on the importance of water on Earth. It’s hard to overstate considering we’re 90% water and without it we’d all be dead. It’s essential for us to continuously investigate and discuss the role it plays in our lives. Overall, I’m just pleased SAM thought it important to publicly acknowledge and highlight the various ways water impacts all of our lives—and I’m honored they decided to include my work in the exhibition.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Images: L. Fried & Natali Wiseman.

Our Blue Planet: Five Quick Questions with Ken Workman

Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water documents the stories and histories of water in our world. Pulling exclusively from local loans and works in SAM’s permanent collection, the expansive exhibition features paintings, sculptures, textiles, and multimedia works by over 70 artists from around the world. Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll be talking with some of the contemporary artists involved with the exhibition about their artwork and the importance of water in their lives.

Born and raised in Seattle, Ken Workman is a member of the Duwamish Tribe, the first people of Seattle, and the fifth generation great-grandson of Chief Seattle. A former Systems and Data Analyst at Boeing, Ken previously served as a Duwamish Tribal Council member and Duwamish Tribal Services President. He also currently sits on the board of two non-profit organizations, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Read below to learn about Ken’s involvement in Our Blue Planet.

1. What is your name and where are you currently based?

My name is Ken Workman and I live in West Seattle.

2. What is the title of your artwork and how does it fit in with the themes explored in Our Blue Planet?

I serve as the introductory speaker for Our Blue Planet. The curators of this exhibition reached out and asked if I would say a few words in my native language, Lushootseed, and welcome people onto this land. In the video, I welcome everyone to the area, to the museum, and into the galleries in my native language—and I was honored to be asked to do it.

3. What thoughts, ideas, and/or perspectives do you want visitors to take away from your artwork in Our Blue Planet?

For so long, the Duwamish people weren’t allowed to speak our language on our land. Being a part of this exhibition, and being given the opportunity to speak Lushootseed publicly, is very special to me. I consider it an honor any time I am able to share our ancestral sounds with the public. What I think is most important in watching this introductory video is hearing my voice and my language. Water is such a broad topic which affects every community and person in the world, so I want visitors to learn about and understand the Duwamish people’s relationship to water while I speak in my community’s native language.

4. What other artworks in the exhibition stood out to you?

The one that really caught my eye was Tracy Rector’s Clearwater: People of the Salish Sea. She uses a combination of audio recordings and visual media to tell the story of the annual Canoe Journey, an inter-tribal event from Alaska to Oregon that celebrates the return of traditional canoe culture and water protection. In watching the video, what I realized was that I was actually a part of it! In addition to the drumming and native songs playing in the background, I suddenly heard my own voice and remembered that Tracy had asked record me speaking in Lushootseed many years ago. When I first watched the film, I was a bit surprised to hear my voice as I didn’t know I was a part of it but it was wonderful to discover that Tracy had included me in her work.

5. How do art and activism intersect? Why do you think it’s important for museums like SAM to curate exhibitions around environmental and societal issues such as water?

It’s important for us to recognize the importance of our natural resources. Around the world, potable water is in short supply. Our glaciers—in the Alps and here in America—are melting and our access to drinking water is shrinking. Bringing attention to these issues, like Our Blue Planet does so well, is more important than ever. Through experiences like these, I hope people will wake up and think more about using and conserving limited resources like these.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Manager

Photo: Beau Garreau.

Reframing South Asian Art: Virtual Panel with Mithu Sen and Bani Abidi

In celebration of the opening of Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, SAM’s Assistant Curator of South Asian Art, Natalia Di Pietrantonio, sat down with contemporary artists Mithu Sen and Bani Abidi to discuss their artistic processes and involvement in the exhibition. Both Sen and Abidi explore themes of gender stereotypes, structures of power, and self-representation while reflecting on their South Asian heritage.

With their artworks in Embodied Change, each of these international artists seek to capture ephemeral gestures of the body. This virtual panel begins with an overview and introduction by Di Pietrantonio followed by a presentation from each of the artists on their artistic practices. The video concludes with a Q & A moderated by Di Pietrantonio.

Visit the Asian Art Museum between 10 am and 5 pm on Friday, March 25 for a day of free art activities and artist interactions including an artist talk with Humaira Abid, a Bharatnatyam and Kathak dance performance by South Asian art collective Pratidhwani, and a take-away Madhubani painting activity designed by artist Deepti Agrawal.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Muse/News: Watery Art, Seattle Film Revives, and Giacometti in Cleveland

SAM News

Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water is now overflowing at SAM! Crosscut’s Brangien Davis highlighted the exhibition in her weekly ARTsea letter, noting that the museum is “sounding a seasonal call for nature appreciation—with an underlying message of urgency.” 

Legendary arts journalist Marcie Sillman of the DoubleXposure podcast appeared on KUOW for their Friday segment on arts and culture, recommending Our Blue Planet. It’s a short listen and a treat to hear Marcie back on KUOW. 

“The exhibit has everything from ancient Asian etchings to 19th-century romantic paintings to brand new work and video installations.”

And ArtfixDaily, Curiocity, and Seattle Met all highlighted the exhibition, on view now through May 30.

Via Capitol Hill Seattle: The façade of the Seattle Asian Art Museum was lit up this past weekend, hosting Enlightenment, a light installation show held in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

Local News

The Stranger’s Jas Keimig has an exit interview with Emily Zimmerman, as the director of the University of Washington’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery heads to the University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery.

The Seattle Times’ Grace Gorenflo on the effort by Seattle artists to purchase Inscape Arts, the historic Chinatown-International District building that houses artist studios. 

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on Washington State’s new film tax incentive and movie studio, and what they could mean for Seattle’s film production opportunities.

With new ways to attract movie and TV producers, will Washington’s film industry get its big break?

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Katie White with a very welcome look at butterflies in art history.

A long read from Noema Magazine: “Over a hundred miles southeast of Los Angeles, alongside the Salton Sea, Bombay Beach is a stretch of mud and sand wracked by hazardous dust storms, trash-filled lots and the smell of fetid algae. Its shores are also home to a burgeoning, surrealist art hub.”

Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer reviews Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, now on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art and headed to SAM this summer

“Working in the decades between Hiroshima and the American buildup in the Vietnam War, Giacometti portrayed an emaciated, uprooted, and pock-marked humanity living in a world on the brink — a precarious state of existence at least partially reprised by the biggest land war in Europe since Hitler.”

And Finally

Just 20 minutes of Denzel Washington being the best.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: L. Fried.

#SAMSnippets: Lauren Halsey

In celebration of Black History Month this February, we gave our Instagram followers an up-close look at artworks in Lauren Halsey, on view at our downtown location through July 17. Check back next month, as we choose a new SAM gallery to walk through as part of our live #SAMSnippets series and appreciate art from any location!

Highly attuned to growing gentrification in her neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, 2021 Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Award winner Lauren Halsey, who studied architecture and art, celebrates Black culture by making space for representations of the people and places around her as a method of creative resistance. In her installation at SAM, the artist shows works in which proud declarations of Black-owned businesses intermingle with images of Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx, pharaohs, and queens, all drawn from a personal archive Halsey has developed through research and community interactions.

Photo: Natali Wiseman.

The tour begins with a look at four carved gypsum relief panels which line the perimeter of the gallery. These four works—all untitled and created between 2019 and 2022—are reminiscent of temple walls. Each of these panels features fictional advertisements for local Black-owned businesses in South Central Los Angeles.

The final work shown in the video acts as the centerpiece to the gallery. This large-scale sculpture of colorful boxes stacked atop one another represent the metaphorical building blocks for future architecture while resonating with imagery from the past.

Photo: Natali Wiseman.

Through her archive and daily life, Halsey strives to record the unique expressions of her neighborhood before the forces of capital erase them. Placing these hyperlocal portraits, signs, and imagery in the context of real and imagined histories, the artist remixes ancient and contemporary cultures into a unifying vision.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Video Artworks: Untitled, 2020, Lauren Halsey, born 1987, hand-carved gypsum on wood, 48 x 48 x 2 7/8 in., © Lauren Halsey, Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Untitled, 2019, Lauren Halsey, born 1987, hand-carved gypsum on wood, 48 x 48 x 2 7/8 in., © Lauren Halsey, Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Untitled, 2020, Lauren Halsey, born 1987, hand-carved gypsum on wood, 95 1/4 x 71 3/4 x 3 in., © Lauren Halsey, Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.
Untitled, 2022, Lauren Halsey, born 1987, hand-carved gypsum on wood, 48 x 48 x 2 7/8 in., © Lauren Halsey, Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. We Are Still Here, 2021, Lauren Halsey, American, born 1987, acrylic, enamel, metallic leaf, and CDs on Gator Board and wood, 108 × 103 × 41 1/4 in., © Lauren Halsey, Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles.

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