SAM Celebrates Pride: Watch These Queer Films Recommended by SAM Staff

In honor of Pride Month, SAM Blog features reflections by SAM voices on LGBTQIA+ art and artists. Queer lives matter every day of the year, but this month is a particular opportunity to celebrate histories of joy, advocacy, and resistance. Check out more Pride-related content on SAM Blog, including two object spotlights and this list of queer film recommendations curated by SAM’s LGBTQIA+ affinity group.

Each of the films listed below resonated with a SAM staff member for its depiction and representation of queer life. This collection showcases a wide range of cinema with the intention of representing the diverse spectrum of queer experience. From campy 90’s comedies such as But I’m a Cheerleader to heart felt explorations of identity like Moonlight, the euphoria, rage, tragedy, and joy of queerness are all celebrated here. While each movie is distinct in tone and genre, they are connected by themes of acceptance, belonging, and autonomy.

Be sure to also check out Free to Be, SAM’s Pride Spotify playlist curated entirely by staff!

But I’m A Cheerleader (1999)
Directed by Jamie Babbit

But I’m a Cheerleader is a hilariously quirky coming-of-age story that prescribes comedy and camp as antidotes for gender norms and homophobia. When quintessential high schooler Megan (a young Natasha Lyonne!) is sent away to conversion therapy by her parents, she resists being labeled as a lesbian– she’s a cheerleader dating a football player! But as she and her friends undergo “treatment” (in the form of simulating heteronormative domesticity in 1950s dresses), she falls in love with cool girl Graham and embraces her queerness and the expansive complexity of real identities. Highlights include: RuPaul, the most saturated pink and blue tones you’ve ever seen, jorts.

– Savannah Di Giovanni, SAM Board Relations Associate

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Directed by Céline Sciamma

This is a quiet, intimate look at the love between two women who are forced to adhere to societal norms in the 18th century. Privately, however, they are able to explore their love for one another while creating art. I love this movie because it highlights queerness in an era we often overlook in the community as well as inserts queerness into the period drama genre and its tropes we have come to know from its heteronormative counterparts. 

– Emily Roberts, SAM Visitor Experience Lead

Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror (2022)
Directed by Bryan Fuller, Tom Maroney, and Sam Wineman

This is one of my favorite documentaries, and connects to me personally as someone who’s loved horror all my life. The representations of otherness explored in the genre have always resonated with me, before I had the words to identify my own difference. Queer people are not a monolith, and I enjoy media that engages with all our experiences, as well as the resonance horror aesthetics can have for people who have been marginalized.

– Jonathan Davidson, SAM Customer Service Center Representative

Bound (1996)
Directed by Lana and Lily Wachowski

I got to see a theatrical screening of this movie at SIFF recently, and it was great to see audiences still laughing and gasping along nearly 30 years later. A crackling debut, and a strong argument for handing a few million dollars to as many first-time Trans filmmakers as possible.

– Lane Belton, SAM Donor Services Representative

Am I OK? (2022)
Directed by Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne

 I really enjoyed this movie because it is not just a typical “coming of age” story, but it portrays a woman in her 30s struggling to come to terms with her sexuality in a very real way. Not only is Lucy feeling like she’s realizing her sexuality “too late” and just generally lost as to what she wants to next in life a very relatable and not often portrayed narrative, this movie does a great job of showing the awkwardness, the unsureness, and the fumbling that comes with real life. 

– Leah Kogan, SAM Membership Communications Associate

My Beautiful Laundrette (1986)
Directed by Stephen Frears

This is one of my go to comfort movies. It explores the intersection of queerness, class, race, and cultural identity with such tenderness all while being set in a run-down laundromat. An important reminder that we are nothing without our community. 

– Petra Jouflas, SAM Development and Finance Coordinator

I Saw the TV Glow (2024)
Directed by Jane Schoenbrun

This movie is absolutely beautiful visually and so deeply unsettling emotionally that you are sucked into the horror without any jump scares. Its message about not connecting to your body/life and that there has to be some kind of escape into a reality that will bring you more joy sits with you long after the credits. If you’ve ever experienced any amount of gender dysphoria or derealization you will find this movie both haunting and also strangely comforting. 

– Jasmine, SAM Customer Service Center Representative



Celebrate Pride Month in Seattle with these suggested events:

Sat Jun 22
Youth Pride Disco
Break out your disco wear for this LGBTQIA+ Pride party, planned for and organized by LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 13 and 22! Join us for drag performances, great music, friend-making activities, food and soft drinks, a quiet room, and more.

Through Sun Jun 23
Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales: Together Again, Again!
Experience the comedy, music, and saucy stylings of two of the Pacific Northwest’s standout drag entertainers, in this wildly hilarious extravaganza set in an apocalyptic future. Check the event calendar for information about performances for teens, ASL interpretation, captions, and masking.

Fri Jun 28
Trans Pride Seattle 2024
Started in 2013, Trans Pride Seattle is an annual event organized by Gender Justice League. Visit the Volunteer Park Amphitheater from 5 to 10 pm for live music, community speakers, performances, and a resource fair all dedicated to increased visibility, connection, and love of the Seattle-area TwoSpirit, Trans, and Gender Diverse (2STGD) community.

Sat Jun 29
PrideFest Capitol Hill
Spanning six blocks of Broadway and Cal Anderson Park, this all-day market features queer local businesses, beer gardens, family and youth programming, and three stages with an unforgettable lineup of live performances.

Sun Jun 30
Seattle Pride Parade
Spend the final day of June by taking part in the 50th annual Pride Parade led by grand marshals Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe. Then, head over to Seattle Center for the can’t-miss performances, hundreds of acts, beer gardens, food vendors, a new family area—and dancing in the iconic International Fountain.

Visit the official Seattle Pride website for even more suggested events.

Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Celebrate Women’s History Month With Five Artworks by Women Artists on View at SAM

Every March, the United States recognizes women’s past and present contributions to society with Women’s History Month. On International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8, we took to social media to highlight the five ongoing and upcoming solo SAM exhibitions by remarkable contemporary women artists. They include:

Now, our celebration of Women’s History Month continues with this round-up of five artworks by women artists you can currently see on view in SAM’s galleries. The five artworks discussed below represent only a few of the many works by women artists in SAM’s collection, but show the range of different techniques, subject matter, and ideas they bring to their art. Women have always been artists and craftspeople, but they have not always been celebrated or acknowledged for their contributions. Plan your next visit to the Seattle Art Museum to appreciate these artworks in person and learn more about the historical and contemporary artists who made them.


Yunarla, 2010
Yukultji Napangati

The precisely painted dots of Yunarla form patterns and undulations that take on a meditative, entrancing quality. Curving lines radiate out from the central knot, suggestive of a topographic map in some ways, but also referring to the vines of the bush banana. Also called the silky pear vine, the bush banana (marsdenia australis) only grows in Australia and serves as food with edible fruit, roots, leaves, seeds and flowers. The name Yunarla also signifies a particular rockhole and soakage site where ancestral women camped to replenish their energy near these places in the desert where water is stored beneath the surface of the sand. 

Yukultji Napangati (born ca. 1970) lived with her family in the Gibson Desert until 1984, when she and several others from her Pintupi tribe made contact with non-Indigenous Australians for the first time. The “Pintupi Nine” became a media sensation as a “lost tribe,” while they insisted they were not lost, as they were living as their ancestors had for millennia. While adjusting to culture shock, Napangati became aware of the Papunya Tula’s community art center, which established a thriving business for Australian Aboriginal people to create and sell their art in 1972. Women began painting in the mid-1990s, and Napangati quickly adopted the ethos of educating outsiders by conveying extensive knowledge about her community and culture through this restrained mark making. Don’t miss your chance to see this work in Honoring 50 Years of Papunya Tula Painting, which closes after April 14.

The First People, 2008
Susan Point

The First People was commissioned for the Seattle Art Museum and stands twelve feet tall, greeting visitors to the museum’s Native American art galleries. Prominent Northwest Coast artist Susan Point (born 1951) brings traditional Salish forms and techniques to contemporary and often public settings to share the history and culture of First Nation people. Point has been credited with single-handedly reviving a unique Salish style that laid dormant for nearly 100 years; she is among only a handful of Native female artists working in the media of woodcarving.

In this work, the eight faces connecting via flowing tendrils refer to the hereditary roots and extended families of the Salish people. These root-like forms also signify the fjords and meandering pathways that punctuate the traditional homelands of her own people, the Musqueam of the Fraser Delta in present-day Vancouver. These pathways are the lifelines that yield salmon and other foods for Salish people. Looking closely at the carving, we can see the perfectly smooth surface of the faces, in contrast to the visible chisel marks of the roots, both showcasing the natural beauty of the cedar wood itself, a material highly valued by First Peoples.

Dug Up from Kitchen Weeds, 2014
Ebony Patterson

In its barrage of color, pattern, and glittering textures, Dug Up from the Kitchen Weeds, on view in Remember the Rain, hides a more somber image. The black-and-white stripes at the center clothe a figure that is lying face down. Though this form is camouflaged within the pink floral background, rhinestones, and tropical birds and plants, it is also hypervisible. Once you notice the stripes, leopard print pants, and red shirt, you can’t overlook them.

Ebony Patterson (born 1981) cites bling funerals, an increasingly popular occurrence in Kingston, Jamaica, as a source of reference, as “the glitter and bling shines light on things.” These lavish celebrations held for working class people say, “You may not have noticed me when I was alive, but you will damn well see me before I leave.” Patterson is interested in bringing people on the margins into focus in her work—first by catching the eye with striking color and imagery, and then by asking viewers to look more closely and see what they find embedded within and protruding from the surface of her collages. Her aesthetic of ornamentation and ostentation often takes on qualities of both disguise and hypervisibility to engage with issues one might rather ignore, such as wealth disparity, high murder rates, and police-related deaths in Jamaica.

Codigo Desconhecido #5, 2015 
Marilá Dardot

Marilá Dardot (born 1972) often works with text-based materials—including books, printed cards, and magazines—to explore ideas of language, communication, and memory. In Codigo Desconhecido #5 (which translates to “unknown code”), books are cut down to their spines, rendering them illegible. Instead of reading and accessing the books’ knowledge, the viewer is left to see these books as objects or artifacts. Each book is cut or ripped to reveal its unique paper and binding materials rather than its words, making its structure but not its content visible.

This work, on view in SAM’s modern and contemporary art galleries, is part of a series that Dardot began during an artist’s residency in Vienna, when she was surrounded by books in a language she could not read. Words are powerful, but here she removes them and in doing so, opens up many avenues for interpretation. Dardot’s work plays with books as our main source and conduit of knowledge—questioning which stories get told or repressed, how translation and language can limit our understanding of others, and possibilities for political resistance on the page and outside of it.

The Sink, 1956
Joan Mitchell

The Sink (1956) is nearly ten feet in length; its size engulfs the viewer in a range of colors, textures, and feelings. Joan Mitchell (1925–1992) was an artist who used her memories, experiences, and environment as inspiration for her abstract works, seeking, in her own words, “to define a feeling.” The Sink, also on view in SAM’s modern and contemporary art galleries, is an abstracted landscape of sorts, with its pools of green and blue interrupted by swirls, drips, and jagged lines in yellow and red and interspersed with thick applications of white paint. Rather than capturing a strictly realistic image of nature, this painting seems more like a memory or impression of a place built up with emotive brushstrokes and applications of paint.

Mitchell grew up in Chicago with strong interests in athletics, art, and literature, thanks to her mother, the poet Marion Strobel Mitchell. She studied art at the School of the Art Institute and then in France on a fellowship. She moved to New York in 1949 and joined the artistic scene there, becoming one of the few female Abstract Expressionists celebrated in her own time. About a decade later, she settled in France where she found artistic inspiration in Impressionists like Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet, continuing a long tradition of artists observing nature and finding her own unique visual language.

– Compiled by Nicole Block, SAM Collections Associate

Photos: Jo Cosme, Chloe Collyer, and Alborz Kamalizad.

Celebrate Black History Month With Five Artworks by Black Artists on View at SAM

Every February, the United States recognizes Black History Month with a specific theme. In 2024, the theme is African Americans and the Arts.

African American art is intricately woven with influences from Africa, the Caribbean, and the lived experiences of Black Americans. In celebration of the rich history of Black Americans in the arts, we’re reflecting on five artworks by historical and contemporary Black artists in the museum’s collection which visitors can currently see in our galleries. Plus, scroll to the bottom of this post to learn about a few ways you can celebrate Black History Month this February and all year long!


Mitchell’s Point Looking Down the Columbia, 1887
Grafton Tyler Brown

Grafton Tyler Brown (1841–1918) was one of only a few Black Americans who made a living as an artist before the 20th century, first as a topographic artist and a lithographer and later as a landscape painter. Brown’s parents were freedmen living in Pennsylvania, but Brown decided to move West for greater freedom and opportunities in the 1850s, as many African Americans did. In the 1880s and 1890s, Brown traveled around the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, painting and selling images of his surroundings. This serene scene of the Columbia River, titled Mitchell’s Point Looking Down the Columbia and on view in American Art: The Stories We Carry, depicts smooth, reflective water framed by rocky cliffs, rolling hills with patches of trees, and distant mountains. The few Native American figures situated in the foreground serve more as indications of the remote-ness of this place, rather than detailed observations of particular Indigenous peoples.

Gwendolyn Knight, 1934–35
Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage (1892–1962) studied sculpture in New York and Paris before opening her own art school in Harlem, New York in 1931. She was devoted to sharing her skills and resources with her students and mentored many young Black artists including Gwendolyn Knight, depicted here, and Knight’s husband Jacob Lawrence, both of whom would later live in Seattle. This portrait depicts Knight in her early twenties with careful attention paid to her facial features and gracefully pulled up hair. Savage gifted this portrait bust to Knight, which she kept until her death in 2005 and bequeathed to the Seattle Art Museum, allowing this rare and fragile plaster work to survive while many of Savage’s other works did not. You can learn more about this bust and Augusta Savage’s artistic career in this 2016 SAM Object of the Week blog post and take an up-close look at  its intricate sculpted details in American Art: The Stories We Carry.

Wounded Eagle No. 10, 1963
James Washington Jr.

James Washington Jr. (1908–2000) saw his animal sculptures as deeply symbolic and resonant with his spiritual beliefs. Born the son of a Baptist minister in Mississippi, he brought these beliefs with him when he moved to the Seattle area in 1941 for a job at the Bremerton Navy Yard. He felt that God was guiding him in his life and as an artist, calling him to create images that would communicate universality and truth about the world. His animal sculptures, such as Wounded Eagle No. 10 on view in Remember the Rain, showcase his close observations of the natural world, as well as his understanding of line, form, and medium. Washington was active in the arts community in the Northwest, taking classes at the University of Washington, exhibiting his work often, forming relationships with artists including Mark Tobey, Kenjiro Nomura, and George Tsutakawa, among many others, and starting a foundation for art scholarships.

In Case of Fire and In Case of Flood, 2014
Barbara Earl Thomas

In a striking and jarring confusion of black and white lines, Seattle-based artist Barbara Earl Thomas (born 1948) illustrates two related themes in this pair of linocut prints titled In Case of Fire and In Case of Flood on view in Remember the Rain. These scenes of people dealing with apocalyptic disasters—fire and flood—draw from Biblical sources, but also from folklore, literature, and Thomas’s own family history and experiences. Rather than creating scenes of pure fantasy, Thomas describes her work as chronicling real narratives from the past and our present day, compelled by the economic and racial inequity she witnesses. In a 2019 SAM Object of the Week blog post, Thomas was quoted as saying: “It is the chaos of living and the grief of our time that compels me, philosophically, emotionally, and artistically. I am a witness and a chronicler: I create stories from the apocalypse we live in now and narrate how life goes on in the midst of the chaos.” Thomas was a student of Jacob Lawrence at the University of Washington, who himself was taught by Augusta Savage, exemplifying a legacy of socially engaged and community-oriented artists.

Stranger in the Village (Excerpt), #7, 1997
Glenn Ligon

Glenn Ligon’s (born 1960) Stranger in the Village (Excerpt), #7 renders a powerful text by civil rights activist and writer James Baldwin nearly invisible by stenciling the black type on a black background and coating it with coal dust. On view in SAM’s modern and contemporary art galleries, the work’s unclear presentation of Baldwin’s words leaves viewers searching and straining to read the message. Baldwin’s essay published in 1955 recounts his visit to a remote Swiss village where he is the first and only Black person that many of the townspeople had ever met. In Ligon’s painting, the sense of hypervisibility that Baldwin describes becomes camouflaged and concealed. Ligon often uses text in his works to question the power of language, modes of engaging with visual art, and the legacy of slavery and racial stereotypes.

– Nicole Block, SAM Collections Associate

Celebrate Black History Month in Seattle with these suggested events. 

February 1–29
Call to Conscience
Take a trip to the Columbia City Theater every Tuesday through Sunday this month to explore the Call to Conscience Black History Month Museum. Organized by Rainier Avenue Radio, the converted theater celebrates the achievements of the Pacific Northwest’s Black community with exhibitions about the Seattle Black Panther Party, the Black Heritage Society, the Hartsfield Family and Slave Quilt Collection, and more.

Sundays in February
Black Ice: An American Sitcom Improvised
Unexpected Productions Improv wants you to be a part of their live studio audience every Sunday this month as they perform an improvised television sitcom inspired by Norman Lear’s iconic 1970s sitcoms. And yes, they’ll be asking for crowd suggestions throughout the show.

February 15
Keynote Program with Dr. Doretha Williams
Our friends at the Northwest African American Museum are celebrating Black History Month with a keynote speech from Dr. Doretha Williams, Director of the Robert F. Smith Center for the Digitization and Curation of African American History. In her speech, she’ll discuss the importance of Black family history in America and genealogy.

February 16–17
BE Great Celebration
Celebrate Black Excellence at this free two-day event in Occidental Square hosted by the Downtown Seattle Association. This soulful celebration will bring together Black culture, arts, music, and food with live performances by local musicians, a pop-up night market featuring Black artists and creatives, and more.

February 24–March 9
X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X
As Black History Month comes to a close, the Seattle Opera is tackling the story of Malcolm X’s life through a series of biographical vignettes. Scored by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis, the three-hour opera fuses elements of modernism, minimalism, and jazz to produce a riveting interpretation of one of history’s most misunderstood civil rights icons.

Photos: Chloe Collyer & Jo Cosme. Mitchell’s Point Looking down the Columbia, 1887, Grafton Tyler Brown, oil on canvas, 18 x 30 in., Bruce Leven Acquisition Fund, 2020.26.

SAM Shop Holiday Gift Guide

SAM Shop is the year-round destination for uncommon objects, including contemporary design for the home, toys for kids, jew​elry by local artists, art and design books, and more. During this festive time of year, we’re sharing some of our favorite gift ideas for anyone on your list.

From upper left-hand corner, clockwise:

From Chaos to Creativity book, $14.95 / Rabbit Carrot Car, $19.95 / Toyo Steel Company Box, $32 / Akashiya Gansai Watercolor Set, $32 / SAM Paintbrush Pencil, $3.50 / Sam Scott Ceramic Mug, $54 / Toyo Steel Company Box, $32 / Melissa Stiles “Picasso” Necklace, $210 / Wallace Sewell Wool Scarf, $82 / Alessi Fior d’Olio Oil Bottle, $70 / Hokusai The Great Wave Reusable Bag and Pouch, $16.99 / Akashiya Ceramic Paint Palette, $20 / Toyo Steel Company Box, $32/ SAM Beanie in Kelly Green, $21.95 / Jonathan Adler Wood Domino Set, $40.

SAM Shop is located on the street level of the Seattle Art Museum, on 1st Avenue between Union and University Streets. Note that some items are available in-store only, but there are also many gems available online. SAM Shop is open during museum hours, and visitors to Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence won’t want to miss related specialty items at the exhibition shop in the fourth floor galleries.

Plus: Don’t miss the After-Hours Shopping Event on Thursday, December 21! SAM Shop & Gallery, as well as MARKET Seattle, will be open until 8 pm for your last-minute shopping needs. Ask about items you found in this holiday gift guide or other ideas the sales associates may have. Perks for this night include free gift wrap services on one item (normally $5 per item) and light refreshments while you shop. And at MARKET Seattle, enjoy a gift card purchase promo and signature holiday cocktails with wintry themes.

This article first appeared in the October 2023 through January 2024 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!

Photos: Alborz Kamalizad.

Five Decades of Supporting Local Artists: SAM Gallery Celebrates 50 Years

This November, SAM Gallery is celebrating 50 years of supporting local artists and building relationships with local collectors. When the program began in 1973, SAM Gallery was managed by former volunteer Jackie Macrae and a team of 25 dedicated SAM docents. Through a great deal of research, many volunteer hours, and a $1,000 loan from the Macrae family, the gallery officially opened its doors to the public. Five decades later, SAM Gallery is staffed by a full-time manager devoted to art sales and rentals and several part-time employees, with additional support from the museum’s Associate Director for Retail Operations and SAM Shop team members.

Visitors browse available artworks at SAM Gallery Rentaloft in 1976, photo: Paul Marshall Macapia.

At its founding, SAM Gallery was known as the Seattle Art Museum Rentaloft and was located in the Modern Art Pavilion at the Seattle Center. In 2004, it was renamed SAM Gallery and moved to 1220 Third Avenue, a block east of the Seattle Art Museum. When the expanded Seattle Art Museum opened in the heart of Seattle in 2007, SAM Gallery moved to its current location on the lower level of the museum, within the SAM Shop space on First Avenue.

In 1973, SAM Gallery supported 86 artists and carried paintings, sculptures, constructions, photography, and conceptual art. Today, SAM Gallery supports over 50 artists from across the Pacific Northwest. The gallery carries paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, drawings, and mixed-media works, all of which are available for rental or purchase.

Many things have changed in the five decades since SAM Gallery was founded, but its mission has remained the same: to support local artists by increasing their exposure and finding audiences for their work. SAM Gallery continues to work with corporate and private clients to help them connect with local artists and build their private art collections. SAM members are able to rent any artwork before making a purchase that directly supports the local artists who live and work in our community. Join us in celebrating SAM Gallery’s 50th anniversary at our Anniversary Party this Saturday, November 4 and Artist Reception on Saturday, November 18. We hope to see you there!

– Pamela Jaynes, SAM Gallery Specialist

Photo: Courtesy © Seattle Art Museum, photo: Paul Marshall Macapia, 1976, archive image.

SAM Through Kids’ Eyes: Book a School Tour For Your Students this Year!

The 2023–2024 school year is officially in full swing! As students and educators return their classrooms, we’re taking this opportunity to share some information about how to book a guided or self-guided school tour at any of our three locations. Plus, we’ve included a few imaginative artworks created by students on a field trip to the Olympic Sculpture Park to give you an idea of the type of artistic activities your students will take part in while visiting any of SAM’s locations.

All school tours at the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park are image-focused and inquiry-based experiences designed for K–12 students. Guided tours are led by trained guides who encourage students to look closely, share personal perspectives, and build connections to their lives and learning. Following this in-gallery experience, students are invited to get creative through an art workshop supported by SAM educators, teachers, chaperones, and/or volunteers. Meanwhile, self-guided tours allow educators to customize their museum experience by leading their own tours through the galleries.

In the 2022–2023, we’re proud to have served more than 5,500 students across 235 school tours. Of these tours, 154 took place at the Seattle Art Museum, 36 took place at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and 26 took place at the Olympic Sculpture Park. This year, we intend to host more tours and provide even more students across Washington State with an exciting educational and artistic experience.

Ready to book a school tour for your classroom? Click here to check availability and plan your visit to SAM!

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Celebrating Community: Families Collaborate on Murals at the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Family Saturdays at the Seattle Asian Art Museum connect families with artists, authors, and performers, through art-making and other programming that celebrates Asian art and culture. As we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian Heritage Month in May, SAM would like to thank all of the families and community members who amplified the BEAUTY OF US visual campaign and contributed to the three collaborative murals displayed in the museum’s Community Gallery.

In 2021, anti-Asian hate crimes across 16 major US cities spiked by 342%. This alarming statistic, coupled with the waning media coverage of hate crimes against Asian Americans, inspired artists Erin Shigaki, Juliana Kang Robinson, and Saya Moriyasu to come together to create BEAUTY OF US, a visual campaign aimed at boosting awareness of anti-Asian violence in Seattle and beyond.

The three artists collaborated with four additional Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women artists in Seattle—Diem Chau, Julie Kim, Raychelle Duazo, and Saiyare Refaei—to create original artworks that were printed on posters and distributed throughout the city. With their bright colors and positive messaging, the artworks raise awareness, beautify streetscapes, and uplift Seattle’s AA+NHPI community.

Browse and download all seven BEAUTY OF US campaign posters for free by clicking on the artists’ name below.

Inspired by the BEAUTY OF US, SAM Educators partnered with featured artists Juliana Kang Robinson, Julie Kim, and Raychelle Duazo to design three unique murals in the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s Community Gallery that invited community collaboration. Over the course of three Family Saturdays at the museum, families learned about and celebrated their cultural heritage by contributing to the murals. Now completed, these murals represent a proud statement of community and healing where children, families, and friends connected and collaborated over collective art-making experiences.

Following their display in the Community Gallery through Sunday, May 21, the murals will be moved and displayed indefinitely in SAM’s Education Studio.

Read on to learn more about each of the three community murals, then participate in an art project with family and friends by clicking on the resources linked below.

Kaleidoscope Stories Community Mural
Julie Kim and Families
Mixed media on illustration board

Julie Kim is a children’s storybook artist and author who is deeply interested in stories that arise from our personal lived experiences, and in myths and folktales that arise from our collective human experience. This mural is a snapshot of those stories, big and small, as told by our community members in patches of obangsaek tiles—the five directional colors in Korean—that describe wholeness and balance through inherent and necessary diversity. Create your own story tile here with guidance from Julie’s illustrated instructions.

No One Like You Community Mural
Raychelle Duazo and Families
Mixed media acrylics on paper

Raychelle Duazo is a queer femme Filipina-American illustrator and tattoo artist based in Seattle. She aims to combine dreamy aesthetics, vibrant colors, and cultural significance to her work through themes of identity, queerness, language, symbolism, love, transformative grief, and Filipino culture. This mural of two figures captures the importance of identity and individuality in body art. Contributing families added pops of color while learning the Tagalog words for jasmine, the Philippine national flower (sampaguita), carabao (kalabaw), butterfly (paruparo), shell (kabibi), and crocodile (buwaya). Click the links above to access a coloring sheet of each of the tattoo designs featured on the mural.

Year of the Rabbit Community Mural
Juliana Kang Robinson and Families
Mixed media on illustration board

Juliana Kang Robinson is an interdisciplinary artist creating work that draws from Korean art traditions and culture. Participating families created pojagi (the Korean word for patchwork) with mixed media prints and drawings that were collaged on mounds in celebration of Lunar New Year. Click here to create your own origami bunny pocket designed by Julie Kim and inspired by the stories that celebrate the year of the rabbit.

– Nani Trias, SAM Educator for Family Programs

Photos: Alborz Kamalizad.

Make Art with Seattle Weavers’ Guild & Learn More About SAM’s Public Programs

Join SAM and the Seattle Weavers’ Guild (SWG) for a free and public art-making workshop on Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 6. Members of SWG will offer a hands-on demonstration of the steps involved in the ikat weaving process with participants having the opportunity to try their hand at weaving with magic heddle looms that have been pre-warped with thick fiber “dyed” using markers to simulate the resist dye process used to create an ikat pattern. Then, purchase your tickets to explore SAM’s ongoing exhibition Ikat: A World of Compelling Cloth at the museum’s Ticketing Desk and head upstairs to see outstanding examples of ikats from across the globe.

Public programs like this art-making workshop invite visitors to explore art on view at SAM in exciting and hands-on ways. SAM is fortunate to have Amazon’s sponsorship of our exhibition-driven public programs, which create a deeper connection to the museum’s exhibitions and installations. These programs are free for visitors, and typically offered on Free First Thursdays when the museum is free to all, all day, bringing more people into the museum engaging with the art on view.

SAM hosts community programs in conjunction with our exhibitions year round. Regular events include My Favorite Things tours, drop-in art-making workshops, and pop-up performances. Recently, Claudia Webb, an artist and member of the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters (PNWAAQ), hosted a My Favorite Things tour focused on two quilt pieces on view in American Art: The Stories We Carry. At another workshop, participants worked with artist and educator Valencia Carroll to explore drawing techniques and tips for sketching, and later with artist Klara Glosova to practice drawing from a live model. These programs are vital to ensuring that all members of our community have access to interactive and enriching artistic experiences.

Amazon is an important supporter of the arts and cultural sector, and we are grateful to have their partnership. In addition to their support of SAM, Amazon is known for its Artist in Residence program, which awards grants and studio space to seven local artists annually. Their dedication to our region includes giving more than $96 million to over 180 local organizations, and last year they won the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Corporate Citizenship Award for Arts & Culture.

Keep your eyes on our website to see what free programs and events we’ll be hosting next. We can’t wait to see you at an upcoming event!

– Kelly Buck, SAM Institutional Giving Coordinator

Photos: Chloe Collyer.

Now on View in SAM’s Community Gallery: Naramore Art Show 2023

Since 1985, Seattle Public Schools has held the Naramore Art Show to share the artworks of its students and celebrate their achievements with the community. Floyd A. Naramore, whose name is honored by this exhibition, was a visionary architect who invested deeply in his community and in the education of students. He designed over 22 schools, including Roosevelt, Garfield, and Cleveland high schools as well as several middle schools across the Pacific Northwest.

The Naramore Art Show is an annual tradition that showcases the artistic creations of Seattle Public Schools’ middle and high school students. The incredible visual art teachers of Seattle Public Schools work with students throughout the district to submit artworks across mediums including drawing, painting, sculpture, and more. These works showcase the inspiration and collaboration that occurs in classrooms, which make up an invaluable part of education in Seattle. The Seattle Art Museum is proud to be a partner in the Naramore Art Show and offer its galleries to uplift student perspectives through self-expression and community building.

This year, the Naramore Art Show returns to SAM’s Community Galleries for the first time since spring 2019! We are so honored to display nearly 200 works of art by young artists on our walls. Visitors can find reflections on everyday moments of peace, explore abstract representations of community, and escape to never-before-seen places. Through these artworks, students grapple with identity and belonging, as well as capturing moments of joy during the past few tumultuous years. The Naramore Art Show will be open to the public from April 8–May 15, 2023 on Saturdays and Sundays and is free and open to the public. The virtual exhibition will run from April 14 until the end of the school year and can be accessed here.

SAM will hold a celebration of the Naramore Art Show 2023 on May 5, 2023 from 6–7 pm in its galleries. This will take place immediately before Teen Night Out with attendees aged 13–19 being encouraged to stay for our exciting evening program of music, dance, and creativity created by teens, for teens.

– Yaoyao Liu, SAM Manager of School & Educator Programs

Photos: Static, Liora Greenwich, 11th Grade. Jen Au.

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.

Become a SAM Volunteer!

SAM is now in search of passionate and outgoing volunteers to help in all aspects of the museum’s operations. SAM volunteers support the museum and its programming through their love of sharing art experiences with visitors, staff, and each other. Volunteer responsibilities include welcoming visitors at SAM’s downtown location, leading tours at the Olympic Sculpture Park, making art with families at the Seattle Asian art Museum, researching our collections, and more!

Apply today to become a SAM volunteer and join a team of dedicated volunteers who support SAM in its mission to connect art to life.

But, don’t just take it from us, hear it directly from a SAM volunteer! Kimber Bang, a longtime volunteer with over 1,300 hours of service donated since 2013, about her experiences as a SAMbassador, libraries volunteer, and member of SAM’s Volunteer Association Executive Committee spoke with SAM about why everyone should become a SAM volunteer.

Being a SAM volunteer for the past several years has led me to develop a new appreciation for museums and how they operate. Having no previous or formal arts education, it is a rare and enriching educational experience to receive training by SAM curators and staff on ongoing exhibitions and installations. The staff are always very friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful, and I always look forward to coming in and seeing their familiar faces. It’s been a treat to engage with visitors and staff while roaming the galleries and being one of the first to see all of the fabulous art on view.

As a volunteer, I also hear about upcoming programming before anyone else and get to attend for free. It is easy to plan ahead and join in in all of the great activities the museum has to offer. I have attended several events including SAM Remix, Party in the Park, curator lectures, and opening night celebrations. I encourage everyone to consider becoming a SAM volunteer and immerse themselves in Seattle’s arts community.

– Kimber Bang, 2013–2022 SAM Volunteer

– Danie Allinice, SAM Manager of Volunteer Programs

Juneteenth: A History Prevailed

Historically, Americans have celebrated July 4—the day in 1776 when the 13 colonies liberated themselves from the rule of Great Britain—as its national independence day. Many people living inside the borders of this country during that time, however, were not free. 

Juneteenth—celebrated every year on June 19—is a national holiday celebrating the day Black Americans were granted their  freedom and status as human citizens in the United States. A common misconception exists that slaves were freed with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 or at the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1865, but the reality is southern states rejected Union laws and kept their slaves in the dark about their freedom in the hopes that they could still win the war. Some states, such as Delaware and Kentucky, remained in a state of rebellion and continued to allow slavery. As one of the most remote southern states with a low Union presence, Texas served as a refuge for slave owners—a place to hide enslaved Africans from in hopes of keeping what they considered to be their “property.” Texas saw an influx of over three times as many slaves after the proclamation was issued. It wasn’t until Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas on the morning of June 19, 1865 and read the following words that many enslaved Africans found out about their freedom: 

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

From these words, Juneteenth was born.

Still, this day in history did not end the practice of slavery entirely. Thousands of accounts from Black Americans document their continued enslavement beyond Juneteenth—some not freed until as late as the 1960s, forced into labor and isolated from the advocacy being done through the Civil Rights Movement. Despite how complex this history may be, the freemen of Texas migrated throughout the United States, going North in an effort to unite their families ripped apart by the slave trade, carrying with them the importance of June 19, 1865.

From Local Celebration to National Holiday

Juneteenth is the longest running African American holiday. While celebrated by the Black community since the first holiday on June 19, 1866 and through the Reconstruction Era, Jim Crow, and beyond, this holiday was not adopted by White Americans who have historically refused to acknowledge or fund this celebration. Many history textbooks did not educate students on Juneteenth and many Black Americans living in northern states did not grow up celebrating it. Juneteenth’s history prevailed through sheer will and a fight for representation. Black activists have been fighting for Juneteenth to become a paid federal holiday for decades. It was only on July 17, 2021 that US President Joe Biden finally signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, declaring Juneteenth an official federal holiday. 

Black Americans have historically used Juneteenth as a day to reflect and mourn for what their ancestors lost as well as to celebrate how far they’ve come and how much they’ve prospered despite the persistence of racism. There is no right way to celebrate Juneteenth, but many black families get together, throw a barbeque, and eat red foods like a red velvet cake and strawberries alongside soul food staples. The red foods are eaten as a representation of the blood and sacrifices inflicted as a result of slavery.

While the declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is a step forward in recognizing the resilience of Black Americans, there is more work to be done. The systemic challenges brought on by slavery continue to persist, including the racial wealth gap, disproportionate rates of incarceration, persistent health disparities, and police brutality. The United States still has a very long way to go in  providing true equity to everyone living within its borders. 

Commemorating Juneteenth as an Ally

How do you respectfully commemorate Juneteenth? As a white American or non-Black ally, Juneteenth is a day to confront this country’s horrific past and critically analyze the space you occupy. Repercussions of the slave trade still exist to this day, but there steps everyone can take to promote a more equitable society. 

Read below for a list of ways to get started:

Reflect on Institutional Racism: How are white people contributing to systemic racism and how do they want this country to evolve? This holiday is a great opportunity to think about racism and privilege. Allies can research the history of slavery and learn more about the origins and persistence of institutional racism. 

Learn About Black Culture and History: Study works by Black leaders, artists, poets, and activists. Juneteenth can be used as a time to challenge internalized white supremacy and have uncomfortable conversations with oneself and others. 

Support Your Neighbors: Show appreciation for the achievements of your fellow black citizens and support black businesses and organizations working to uplift black communities in America. 

Read a Book:

  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written By Himself by Olaudah Equiano
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X
  • Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 by W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Ar’n’t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South by Deborah Gray White
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo 
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • Check out this list from the New York Public Library with books for kids to learn about and celebrate Juneteenth

Watch a Video:

Browse the Web:

Listen to a Podcast:

Visit a Relevant Museum Exhibition in Seattle:

Attend a Juneteenth Event:

Juneteenth at SAM

Juneteenth is a time for remembrance and healing. Americans can pay respects to the past and the enslaved Africans that built this country. Visit the Seattle Art Museum’s downtown location to see exhibitions and installations which reference this history. 

Photo: L. Fried.

Lauren Halsey (through July 17)

In her installation at SAM, 2021–2022 Betty Bowen Award winner Lauren Halsey shows artworks in which proud declarations of Black-owned businesses intermingle with images of Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx, and pharaohs and queens, all drawn from a personal archive Halsey has developed through research and community interactions.

Photo: Nathaniel Willson.

Emblems of Encounter: Europe and Africa over 500 Years

Looking back 500 years, one can see the late 15th century as a major turning point in history. When Portuguese navigators first arrived on the shores of West Africa, the two continents of Europe and Africa began interacting in new ways. After a very brief period of mutual respect and commercial exchange, European traders quickly moved to exploit the region’s natural resources—including human labor—which became the basis for the massive slave trade that eventually affected twenty million Africans. The ten works of European and African art in this gallery, dating from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 20th, have been selected from SAM’s collection as examples of these interactions over time. 

Image: Nathaniel Willson.

Lessons from the Institute of Empathy

Three Empathics have moved into Seattle Art Museum and are a central feature to the latest installation imagined in our African art galleries. Now a part of SAM’s permanent collection, the Empathics have surrounded themselves with works from our African art collection as a way to help visitors awaken their own empathy.

A Path Forward

Hopefully, these resources can provide some guidance and insight as you celebrate Juneteenthand learn about the significance of this holiday to Black Americans. Black people have been fighting for centuries against white supremacy and oppression. However, true equity can only come when white people renounce their privilege against Black people and other people of color. All Americans must lend a hand to take action and spread knowledge to end the oppression that continues today. 

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

– Nelson Mandela

– Karly Norment Meneses, SAM Marketing Coordinator

Illustration: Karly Norment Meneses.

Now on View: Naramore Art Show 2022

Since 1985, Seattle Public Schools has held the Naramore Art Show to share the works of its arts students and to celebrate their achievements with their community. Floyd A. Naramore, whose name is honored by this exhibition, was a visionary architect who invested deeply in his community and in the education of students. He designed over 22 schools, including Roosevelt, Garfield and Cleveland high schools, and several middle school buildings.

The Naramore Art show is an annual tradition celebrating the excellence of the middle and high school artists of Seattle Public Schools (SPS). From Ingraham to Chief Sealth International High School, SPS is represented by some of the most imaginative and thought-provoking artists in this city. Throughout the works of art that make up this show, you can see COVID-19’s impact on schools, the arts community, and youth. But there is also so much hope for the future and human connection as well. As a proud partner in Naramore, Seattle Art Museum values the voices of young people, and we hope to empower youth to continue their growth as artists and people through community building and creative learning. 

This year Naramore will once again be a virtual gallery on the SPS Visual & Performing Arts website and includes over 200 works of art by students from across the district. The exhibition will be on view through June 30 and can be accessed online here! Additionally, students are invited to continue sharing artwork they’ve created at home during quarantine on Instagram with #artistsofsps. Although this year’s exhibition is virtual, we look forward to hosting the exhibition at the museum next year.

You are also invited to join us for a virtual celebration of these student artists on Friday, May 6 at 6 pm. No registration is required to tune in on YouTube, stream on the Seattle School District webpage, or view on SPS TV Channel 26. 

We are so grateful to these young artists and ask that our community take a moment to experience their visionary work.

– Yaoyao Liu, SAM Manager of School & Educator Programs

Image: Hannah Sheffer, West Seattle High School, Naramore 2021.

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.

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.

Imogen Cunningham Inspired: SAM Photo Club

We wrapped up SAM Photo Club for Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective with a whopping 1,517 posts contributed by photographers from all over the world. To take part, all you had to do was tag your photo with #SAMPhotoClub on Instagram in one of the defining categories of Cunningam’s long and illustrious career: Portraits, botanicals, street, and dance photography. Then we invited members of the Cunningham advisory board to select their favorites to be featured here! We also worked with photographer Ashley Armitage to spread the word about SAM Photo Club and she shared some of her own images from each category that we’ve gathered selections of in a slideshow below. Ashley catapulted herself into photography and directing at 15 years old after observing the lack of diversity and representation in the media. Her work dismantles beauty standards and pushes outdated societal boundaries. Stay tuned for the next round of SAM Photo club, coming soon!

Portraits selected by Robert Wade


For me, the photographer took this character study to a different level with the inclusion of the Marilyn Monroe graphic on the women’s garment. The juxtaposition between the “real” of the subject and the “artificial” of Marilyn’s pose is striking

This photograph rings the bell for authenticity. It puts me in the setting, providing insight into the subjects work place and work day. 

The framing, the pose, the camera angle and the contrast all speak to me. To my eye, this photo carries some of the spirit of Cunningham’s work.


I find the water droplets and the enigmatic gaze of the subject compelling. I want to know more.


The lighting. The lighting. And the lighting. I love the lighting on this photo.

Robert Wade is a photo-based artist and event/performance photographer. He has a graduate degree from Stanford University in Communications and, in previous lives, was an information systems project manager, community college psychology instructor, management consultant, web site developer, restaurateur, and DJ. A long-time trustee of the Henry Art Gallery, Robert served as president of the Seattle Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Council for six years and is a former board member of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and the Center on Contemporary Art. Among Robert’s clients are the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Art Museum, the Northwest African American Museum, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the City of Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, and the Seattle Public Library.

Botanicals selected by SuJ’n Chon


The clever use of focus and subject placement gives this composition a story with the “lead” mushroom in sharp focus leading the others through a field. The soft sepia tone and dark edges gives the plot mystery as if they are travelling surreptitiously in perilous circumstances. 


There is something entirely comic about this image of a desperate leaf clinging with arms stretched out for dear life. The rainy window pattern provides a nice contrast to the vividly colored leaf, and the dark blurry lines from the tree outside add extra energy and movement to the composition.


Simple but powerful, negative space is used nicely to put the spotlight on the alium bud getting ready to break open. The blurry white “echo” behind the bud hints at even more anticipation of what could come, and adds visual interest to a composition that would be almost too simple without it.

SuJ’n Chon is a photographer, writer, multidisciplinary artist, and co-founder of IDEA Odyssey, a visual arts collective for emerging artists whose works focus on diversity, culture, and identity. She is a community advisory committee member of SAM’s Imogen Cunningham exhibit. In her professional life, SuJ’n has served in administration roles for nonprofit and government agencies since 1991 and is currently the principal of Novum Lux, which primarily supports those doing work at the intersection of arts, education, and social justice.

Street photography selected by Carrie Dedon


This could have doubled in our Dance Photography competition, but if Cunningham could blur boundaries, so can I! This image has such a spirit of whimsy and humor that is present in a lot of Cunningham’s street photography.


A true “stolen picture,” as Cunningham would say—a very clever composition, caught in a perfectly candid moment. I also love the use of reflection in the shop window, a device Cunningham used often in her street photography as well. 


The f/64 artists would love the sharpness of this image! I like how the figure, the puddles on the street, and the lines of the graffiti are all so graphically delineated, almost like a drawing.


Where street photography meets portraiture. This image strikes me as in spirit with Cunningham’s ideas of capturing the “inner biography” of her subject, made all the more poignant as a chance encounter.

Movement, chance, and a little bit of humor—this speaks to so many of Cunningham’s’ street images!

Carrie Dedon is Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at Seattle Art Museum and curated SAM’s exhibition of Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective.

Dance photography selected by Catherine Nueva España


Though dance is often social or performed in groups, some of my strongest dance memories involve being alone, working through a difficult bit of choreography. It feels that to me that this dancer is asking us for some space and quiet time so they can focus.


Many of Imogen Cunningham’s artist portraits convey both the essence of the person and their artistry.  This photograph struck me as both portrait-like and a demonstration of the dancer’s artistry.


It has become a cliché to say, but I do think it is important to dance like no-one is watching! This photograph describes the joy of dance: being out in public, dancing in the middle of the street, masked, with lots of people around you, spontaneous, sweaty…you can almost hear the music.


If Imogen Cunningham took ballet as a child, I imagine that this would be her self-portrait: a sense of purpose, beauty, and subtle use of shadow and light.


As an audience member, I love seeing performers moving close together like this – each dancer senses their own individuality and is aware of the charged space between them and others. This could easily be a city street scene as well.

Catherine Nueva España is the Interim Executive Director at On The Boards and was the former Executive Director at Velocity Dance Center. She started dancing at age 6, trained in Manila, New York, and London, and considers herself a lifelong dance student. She supports artists and arts organizations through her service as a WA State Arts Commissioner,  grants panelist, and consultant. She enjoyed her time as a community advisor for SAM’s Imogen Cunningham exhibition, when her love of dance, photography, and community collaboration came together.


– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM Digital Marketing Manager

Image: Installation view of Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective at Seattle Art Museum, 2021, photo: Natali Wiseman

Join SAM Photo Club!

Imogen Cunningham was well known for encouraging the creativity of others and endlessly pursuing inspiration. SAM is honoring this influential photographer by encouraging you to hit us with your best shot.

While Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective is on view at Seattle Art Museum, we’ll announce submissions to four of the defining genres of Cunningham’s career: portraits, botanicals, street photography, and dance. At the end of the exhibition, members of the exhibition advisory board will select their top five favorite submitted images and we’ll feature them here on SAM Blog!

Imogen Cunningham’s striking portraits are among the most celebrated in the history of photography. In her photographs of plant life, Cunningham abstracted the natural world and offered a unique way of seeing through the art of photography. Through avant-garde and candid portrayals of city life in her street photography, Cunningham offered images of diverse communities in San Francisco and beyond. And as champion of other artists, Cunningham’s spark of creative possibility generated a wide sphere of influence as her photographs of dancers brought attention to her own work and the work of dance artists.

When to participate

  • November 15: Portrait photography
  • December 6: Botanical photography
  • December 27: Street photography
  • January 15: Dance photography

How to participate

  • Follow us on Instagram & keep an eye out for each genre announcement
  • Share your photographs with #SAMPhotoClub

Imogen Cunningham: A Retrospective showcases the endless innovation and profound influence of this remarkable photographer who pushed the boundaries for both women in the arts and photography as an art form. Nearly 200 of Cunningham’s insightful portraits, elegant flower and plant studies, poignant street pictures, and groundbreaking nudes present a singular vision developed over seven decades of work. Get tickets to the first major retrospective in the United States of Cunningham’s work in 35 years and find some inspiration for your submission to #SAMPhotoClub.

Looking for an art prompt to focus your lens? Check out this activity we created for artists of all ages back when we were in quarantine!

– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM’s Digital Marketing Manager

Self-Portrait with Korona View, 1933, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 4 × 3 5/16 in., Collection of The Imogen Cunningham Trust, © 2021 The Imogen Cunningham Trust. Stan, San Francisco, 1959, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 × 7 1/16 in., Collection of The Imogen Cunningham Trust, © 2021 The Imogen Cunningham Trust. Magnolia Blossom, (detail) negative 1925; print 1930, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 9 5/16 × 11 5/8 in., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 54042, Photo: Randy Dodson, © 2021 The Imogen Cunningham Trust. Jump Rope, New York, 1956, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 7 1/2 × 7 3/8 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of John H. Hauberg, 89.39, © (1956), 2009 Imogen Cunningham Trust. 1952, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 7 5/8 × 7 5/8 in., Collection of The Imogen Cunningham Trust, © 2021 The Imogen Cunningham Trust. Dancer, Mills College, 1929, Imogen Cunningham, American, 1883–1976, gelatin silver print, 8 9/16 × 7 3/8 in., The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2006.25.6, © 2021 The Imogen Cunningham Trust.

Back to School with New Eyes on Asia Educator Resources

Returning to school for K–12 students and educators not only means the beginning of a new school year, but also returning to in-person classrooms, in many cases. Around this time last year, the School & Educators team at SAM was working closely with our school and community partners on modifying the resources that had been created for the Seattle Asian Art Museum’s 2020 reopening, which were designed for in-person groups at the museum or in the classroom. In the following months, those programs pivoted from an in-person museum visit with related educator resources to a guided virtual experience featuring interactive Eyes on Asia videos.

Throughout the development of Asian art educational resources, we have consistently sought the input of those whose work is closest to youth and families. When the prospect of a fully remote 2020–21 school year became clear, we surveyed the educators that had been involved in our school partnerships for their insights on how best to meet the needs of students without high-speed internet, specialized art supplies, and/or the capacity to regularly attend online classes. Based on their feedback, we began developing Asian art resources that could be used in a virtual classroom or on their own. Instead of providing information on many artworks, we created differentiated ways to explore one object. In this way, an educator would be able to facilitate a sense of shared learning among students, even if they were not following the exact same steps.

SAM staff prepare to shoot a scene from the Eyes on Asia video series.

Working with local videographer Ellison Shieh, the School & Educators team shot three videos in October 2020. Ellison’s experience at the intersection of documentary filmmaking and historical preservation, as seen in their work on “Chinatown-International District: Bush Garden” in #VanishingSeattle’s award-winning series, was incredibly helpful in cultivating a space of learning in the Eyes on Asia videos. In the coming months, we shared these videos and related resources with educators across many school districts, including Seattle Public Schools and Highline Public Schools. Not only was it a joy to see students engaging with SAM’s Asian art collection in a new way, but educators provided feedback as well. In a focus group with educators that used these videos in their classrooms during the 2020–21 school year, participants shared their thoughts on the importance of student engagement and creative responses:

“The [activity] was just cool. They were super excited about it and like, ‘Do we get to work on this again tomorrow?’”

“I’m always looking for projects that have that balance of structure to help them build skills and then having it be really creative. It fit really well with that . . . . And I loved it because it shows that they are thinking about what is inspiring for them and what will help them be really creative.”

“I’ve been really trying to have a lot of local artists and artists from diverse backgrounds who are currently working that my kids can connect with because they just love to see young, active working artists that look like them. . . . That’s something that I know I would love to get more of.”

In May 2021, after integrating educator feedback, we shot a second round of videos with Ellison. For this second round, SAM invited teaching artist Amina Quraishi to design and lead art activities inspired by works of art on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In Amina’s activity, she reflects on how Islamic artists in the past have been inspired by the natural world around them. Creating a pattern based on Palampore (bed covering), she reminds us that the process is as important as the product when creating art.

While remote classrooms have now transitioned to hybrid or in-person, we hope that all the Eyes on Asia videos will help educators integrate a strengths-based approach with students, emphasizing their resilience and creativity over the past eighteen months. During this past year, we learned that teachers can adapt interactive video content in their classrooms, looking at works of art in SAM’s collection with their students before or after a future museum visit. With a specific focus on BIPOC artists and cultures underrepresented in our current offerings, we aim to continue improving our work toward community involvement and youth-led learning.

Watch all of SAM’s Eyes on Asia videos on YouTube.

– Yaoyao Liu, Museum Educator, Seattle Asian Art Museum

Yaoyao develops K-12 programs and resources related to other works of contemporary Asian art at SAM.

Images: Robert Wade. Yaoyao Liu.

Equity at SAM: Furthering Our Collective Commitment

SAM aims to be transparent with what is happening behind the scenes at the museum as it moves forward with its important equity work. You may already be familiar with our internal Equity Team, a staff-driven, cross-departmental advisory group, has been working since 2016 to deepen SAM’s commitment to racial equity in all areas of the institution. Now, we want to share a major, six-month initiative that took place from August 2020 to January 2021: the Equity Task Force.

The goal of this task force was to build on SAM’s commitment to fostering equity and inclusion throughout the museum. Composed of SAM board members, staff, and members of the museum’s Education and Community Engagement Committee, it was chaired by board president Carla Lewis, board member Cherry A. Banks, and SAM’s lllsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, Amada Cruz. The task force as a whole represents a diverse cross-section of SAM staff and community members so that many perspectives could be brought to the table.

Over the course of six months, this group gathered virtually to brainstorm, comb through research, discuss ideas, and ultimately develop recommendations in four critical departments at the museum. We’d like to share some of the broad visions with you:

1.     Human Resources: Create a more inclusive work environment and increase representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) at SAM through a focus on recruitment, hiring, and retention practices.

2.     Curatorial: Increase BIPOC representation in SAM’s collections, exhibitions, and gallery interpretation; further community collaborations; and expand the scope of programming.

3.     Development: Build inclusive fundraising and membership practices that center trust and authenticity to increase connections with BIPOC audiences.

4.     Communications: Better understand who our current audiences are and identify those communities where we can more effectively engage. Provide strategic guidance to departments across SAM in communicating equity priorities, goals, and progress both internally and externally.

These are summaries of the expansive, detailed timelines that were generated through this work. Departments are already implementing many of these initiatives as they continue planning and identifying resources for the long term.

Advancing racial equity at SAM is everyone’s responsibility. We want to reflect that commitment within the priorities and plans of every element across the institution. We recognize that this work never ends, and that we each play a role—including you—in creating a museum where everyone feels a powerful sense of belonging and can connect with the art and ideas on view.

Learn more about Equity at SAM here.

A version of this article was first printed in the June 2021 edition of SAM Magazine.

Image: “We Are All in This Together,” 2002, Mark Mumford, vinyl lettering produced from CD formatted for a MAC with both a FreeHand and an EPS version of the artwork, dimensions variable, Gift of Carlos Garcia and James Harris in honor of Kimberly Richter Shirley, 2003.60, ©️ Mark Mumford.

See Lawrence through Jordan Nicholson’s Lens

In checking out the exhibit, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the struggles and events that have ultimately lead to where we are today. SAM tasked me with making some work around the exhibit and so I decided to get some portraits of my favorite local artist friends, Cristina Martinez and Ari Glass in the space. We’ve all been inspired by Lawrence so this opportunity was really special.

– Jordan Nicholson

We’re sending off Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle with this photo shoot by the talented Jordan Nicholson. The exhibition has been sold out for weeks and closes Sunday, May 23 but luckily, you can see into the galleries via Jordan’s lens. Check out the gallery of images below and see more photography by Jordan on his Instagram.

Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle questions the stories we’ve been told by amplifying narratives that have been systematically overlooked from America’s history. This exhibition reunites Lawrence’s revolutionary 30-panel series Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56) for the first time since 1958, and SAM will be its only West Coast venue. These modernist paintings chronicle pivotal moments from the American Revolution through to westward expansion and feature Black, female, and Native protagonists as well as the founders of the United States. Lawrence interprets the democratic debates that defined the early nation and echoed into the civil rights movements during which he was painting the Struggle series. Works by contemporary artists Derrick Adams, Bethany Collins, and Hank Willis Thomas engage themes of democracy, justice, truth, and the politics of inclusion to show that the struggle for expansive representation in America continues.

Photos: Jordan Nicholson

Connecting Art & Youth in the Naramore Art Show

Since 1985, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has held the Naramore Art Show to share the works of its arts students and to celebrate their achievements with their community. Floyd A. Naramore, whose name is honored by this exhibition, was a visionary architect who invested deeply in his community and in the education of students. He designed over 22 schools, including Roosevelt, Garfield and Cleveland high schools, and several middle school buildings.

The Naramore Art show is an annual tradition celebrating the excellence of the Middle and High-School artists of Seattle Public Schools. Seattle Art Museum is a proud partner in Naramore, and each year we look forward to working with graphic design students as they design promotional posters, assisting with the installation of art in our Community Gallery, and honoring artists in the award ceremony. From Lincoln to Chief Sealth International High School, SPS is represented by some of the most imaginative and thought-provoking artists in this city. These are students who are constantly questioning the social issues they’ve seen rise around them and their works show the incredible deep empathy, wisdom, and compassion for this world they’re growing up in. 

In March 2020, when COVID-19 forced closure of schools, SPS administrators and teachers pivoted to new ways of engaging students in a world of virtual learning. As our community experienced the traumas of illness, racial violence, and economic uncertainty, SPS turned their attention to the needs of students and families. From establishing meal sites to setting up WiFi hotspots, SPS responded. Some might wonder where art fits into all of this. Throughout history and to the present, art provides a way for us to process, heal, and connect. This time is no different. Over the past school year, our young artists created home studios at kitchen tables and on their bedroom floors. Using visual art kits assembled by art teachers and administrators, paints and ceramics made their way into homes and were put to good use. Whether creating works in defense of Black lives or finding a moment of escape into swirls of abstraction, students used their talent to respond to this moment in their own way. These works are a gift to us all and a statement to the power of art.   

This year Naramore will once again be a virtual gallery on the SPS Visual & Performing Arts website and includes 176 works of art by students from across the district. The show will be on view through June 30, 2021 and can be accessed online here! Additionally, students are invited to continue sharing artwork they’ve created at home during quarantine on Instagram under #artistsofsps.

You are also invited to join us for the virtual celebration on Friday, May 21 at 6 pm, co-hosted by Rayna Mathis, SAM’s Assistant Educator for Teen Programs. The celebration will include a viewing of the artwork, keynotes by Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones and Carlynn Newhouse, student video diaries, and more! No registration required, just tune in on YouTube, stream on the Seattle School District webpage, or view on SPS TV Channel 26. 

We are so grateful to these young artists and ask that our community take a moment to experience their visionary work. Appreciation is good but action is better. Ask yourself what can I do to make our community more healthy and just for this new generation? We all have a role to play.  

– Anna Allegro, Senior Manager of School & Educator Programs

Images: More Than Just One, Xixi Gardner, 11th Grade, Chief Sealth High School. Rainbow Perspective, Alexandra Lawson-Mangum, 11th Grade, Franklin High School.

Recognize & Reflect with Priya Frank

We don’t necessarily recognize the magnitude of an experience in the moment, until we get a chance to look back and realize how that experience or moment was pivotal in shaping how we see the world and ourselves in it. Having the opportunity to reflect on 2020 through this piece in the Seattle Times helped me recall what carried me through the past year.

There were some incredibly big moments, such as becoming the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at SAM, but truly what carried me through the past year were the small moments. It was the simple gestures and findings that held space for me to breathe and discover untapped creativity as a coping mechanism, both for myself and for others in my community. Utilizing my passion to connect, convene, and build community took on a whole different meaning, as I needed to relearn how that would even translate in our new reality. 

I wondered how I would continue to center my values of joy and optimism during a time filled with so much pain, grief, and reckoning. But those glimmers of hope—whether it came from my amazing colleague Rayna who built the Little Purple Library at The Station in Beacon Hill, my neighbor Rosie who gave me hand sanitizer in mid-March (basically gold!), and my friends who all rallied to join a car parade for my Mom who turned 70—those are the moments and events that will shape the way that I live my life, do my work, and hold myself in gratitude to the community I have the privilege of being a part of, and in service to.

I hope that all everyone who has found inspiration in art or community in the Seattle Art Museum while they stayed home with SAM is able to reflect on the stress and intensity of the last year in order to identify and act on the positive things that will influence and uplift the future.

– Priya Frank, SAM Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Photo: Natali Wiseman

Virtual Tour with Mary Wallace

SAM Docent, Mary Wallace is taking us to Seattle’s waterfront to wander the Olympic Sculpture Park and do some close looking at the monumental sculptures that call the park home. Mary Wallace is one of SAM’s talented and trusted docents. Docents volunteer a ton of their time learning about the art at SAM to lead tours for art lovers of all ages. While we can’t have in-person tours at the moment, we hope you will follow Mary’s tour on your phone the next time you visit the Olympic Sculpture Park.

We’ll start first with a big shiny tree. It is called Split and it is a tree made of steel. The branches are made of 20 different sizes and the tree was designed by artist Roxy Paine on a computer. Look closely and notice lines, shapes, colors, and texture. Compare Split to the Garry Oak that’s planted next to it. Make a list of the similarities and differences between these two trees. What about the sculpture looks real? What looks unreal? Is this tree realistic or abstract? Think about a way to describe this shiny tree. If you touched it, how would Split feel? Can you smell it? Could you taste it? You can see it. Could you hear wind going through its branches? Would the branches move? Why do you think the artist made this tree? The artist, Roxy Paine, likes to make artificial versions of nature. He thinks it is interesting to control nature and this is his way of doing it. What are other ways that we control nature: building dams, burning forests, having wolves go back into forests. Would you like to have a tree like this in your yard? Why do you think it is called Split?  

Take a picture of this tree with your mind and pack up your senses. What were those senses again? Put it all in your memory bank. We are going down this hill and into that greenhouse where we will meet another tree. 

Welcome to Neukom Vivarium where a nurse log lives.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful tall evergreen tree that was about 100 years old. One winter there was a lot of snow, and rain, and wind and the tree was blown back and forth for many days. Eventually it was blown down. It laid on the forest floor for about 10 years growing all sorts of things on it. One day, an artist named Mark Dion, saw it and decided that it must go to live in a museum. It lives inside this building now. But how does it live if it cannot get rain, sun, wind and soil? Look around and find the sprinklers, the green tinted glass and the fans. 

Once a year, a gardener brings dirt to put all around the tree. How is this tree like the one you just saw? How is it different? Is this tree alive or is it a dead? Is it an artificial tree like you just saw? If it is dead, how come things are growing out of it? What do you think is going on here? This is a nurse log and it is decomposing all the time. That is how things grow from it. What is decomposing and what makes it decompose? Since it is decomposing all of the time to support new growth, eventually this nurse log will disappear. Any stick that has growth of moss, lichen, or fungi is also a kind of nurse log. Is this art or is it nature? Do you wonder if this was a good idea to bring this tree out of the forest and put into a museum? Why do you say that?

Remember what Split looked like and what the nurse log looked like. Which one would you like to have in your back yard? Make room for this nurse log next to Split in your memory bank.  

Walk uphill through the Meadow. You’ll pass a big red sculpture on the right, called The Eagle as you head to the big sculpture at the end of the path on the left. Stop once or twice to look at it as you walk. How does it change as you get closer? What shapes, colors, textures, materials do you see? Is the piece realistic or abstract? What do you make of this? Why do you say that? What does it remind you of? Why would the artist make this? What would you call it? 

Its name is Bunyon’s Chess. What senses are you using to enjoy this? Sight for sure, and maybe the smell of the salty air that surrounds the art. The artist likes to use wood to remind you of forests and waters that keep them green and healthy. He also likes to use materials like steel and wood from buildings that have been torn down. The artist likes for his sculptures to move. When the wind is strong, what part of this sculpture do you think moves?  

Add Bunyon’s Chess to your memory bank and leave room for one more sculpture.    

Walk east and down the steps into the Valley. There is a large sculpture in front of you. Think about describing it: color, shapes, texture, materials. Is it realistic or abstract? Walk down the steps to the gravel. What senses will be used to look at this piece: sight, and maybe the smell of the trees and plants around it. We can’t touch, but what does your sight tell you about how the surface might feel? How is it like Bunyon’s Chess that you just left: both are made of steel. Richard Serra is the artist who made this piece and he calls it Wake. What are three definitions of the word, wake:  wake up, wake from a boat, a ceremony to honor a dead person. The artist made this piece in honor of a friend who died. 

There are five parts of Wake and the artist invites you to run and/or walk through them. Remember to look up to the sky as you do. When you get to the other end, share how you felt and what you thought going through it. Why did the artist make five parts instead of one? How would it feel going around just one part?  Did it look different when you got to the other end? Is Wake realistic or is it abstract art?

There are steps on the left. Go up those steps towards the building at the top.  Stop twice on your way up, turn around and look at Wake.  Does it look different? Why do you say that? Go to the railing at the top and look back at Wake. How does Wake look from the railing? Do you see anything different in the top of Wake

How are Bunyon’s Chess and Wake alike and how are they different? Which one would you like to have in your yard?  

Have a seat in the grass or in the red chairs outside of the PACCAR Pavilion. Sit and look at the views. Think about one thing you will remember from your tour today. Think about the reasons to remember them. Was it because of the story, or the way the sculptures were alike or different, or the shapes you saw, or the materials, or the way it made you feel? Take one sweeping view of the Olympic Sculpture Park as you leave and wave goodbye to all of the art you saw.  

– Mary Wallace, SAM Docent

Images: Split, 2003, Roxy Paine, polished stainless steel, 50 ft. (15.24 m.), Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2016.17.3 © Roxy Paine, photo: Stephanie Fink, Paul Macapia, Benjamin Benschneider.

Tour Public Art with Jinny Wright

While you can’t visit City of Tomorrow: Jinny Wright and the Art That Shaped a New Seattle currently, you can still experience the artful legacy left behind by Jinny Wright. Discover outdoor art in Seattle with this tour of public art acquired or commissioned by The Virginia Wright Fund. The fund was created for Jinny by her father Prentice Bloedel in 1969. Jinny stated, “Commissioning works of art for public spaces was unheard of in the late ’60s.”

Follow along to see the outdoor art that shaped a new Seattle through the initiative of Jinny Wright.

Broken Obelisk, Barnett Newman, (1963-67)
University of Washington

The representation of the obelisk as broken and inverted is intended as protest and critique of power and colonial ambition. It’s as resonant today as it was in the midst of the Vietnam War when the artist created the work.

Iliad, Alexander Liberman, 1984
Seattle Center

See this piece from all angles by walking both around and through the portal of this bright red constellation of circular forms.

Moses, Tony Smith, 1975
Seattle Center

Originally commissioned as a plywood maquette in the 1960s by the Contemporary Art Council—another brainchild of Jinny Wright—the welded steel piece, coated in black paint was realized with the help of the Wright Fund.

Wandering Rocks, Tony Smith, 2016
Olympic Sculpture Park

Make sure to walk around this five-part installation for a sense of how the artist plays with volume and perspective and geometric forms.

Bunyon’s Chess, 1965 & Schubert’s Sonata, 1992, Mark di Suvero,
Olympic Sculpture Park

Jinny Wright greatly admired Mark di Suvero. Bunyon’s Chess was Jinny’s first private commission made for her garden in the 1960s, while Schubert’s Sonata was commissioned by Jinny and the museum to be installed at the edge of Puget Sound.

Adjacent, Against, Upon, 1976, Michael Heizer
Myrtle Edwards Park

This art by Michael Heizer combines cast concrete forms and granite slabs quarried in the Cascade Mountains.

Curve, Ellsworth Kelly, 1981 & Split, Roxy Paine, 2003
Olympic Sculpture Park

Head to the PACCAR Pavilion and you’ll spot two more works from Jinny’s personal collection. Ellsworth Kelly’s Curve is installed on the entrance wall to the Pavilion and Roxy Pain’s stainless steel tree Split can be seen in the meadow below.

Hammering Man, Jonathon Borofsky, 1992
Seattle Art Museum

Conclude at SAM’s downtown location where the Hammering Man hammers 24/7, only resting once a year on Labor Day. This piece was commissioned for In Public: Seattle 1991 and supported by the Wright Fund.

Extend your tour to Western Washington University in Bellingham for a campus sculpture tour—Jinny’s Wright Fund brought spectacular commissions by artists such as Nancy Holt, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, and Mark di Suvero to campus for all to enjoy.

Images: Hammering Man (detail), 1992, Jonathan Borofsky, Seattle Art Museum 1% for Art funds, Museum Development Authority, Virginia Wright Fund, and Seattle City Light 1% for Art funds, photo: Natali Wiseman. Mark di Suvero, painted and unpainted steel, height: 22 ft., Gift of Jon and Mary Shirley, The Virginia Wright Fund, and Bagley Wright, 95.81, © Mark di Suvero. Adjacent, Against, Upon, 1976, Michael Heizer, National Endowment for the Arts, Contemporary Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle City Light 1% for Art funds, photo: Spike Mafford. Curve XXIV, 1981, Ellsworth Kelly, American, born 1923, Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2016.17.2, © Ellsworth Kelly. Split, 2003, Roxy Paine, American, born 1966, Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, © Roxy Paine.

SAM Shop: Creative Pottery with Deb Schwartzkopf

Earlier this month we had to cancel a book signing event featuring highly regarded Seattle potter, Deb Schwartzkopf. We were so sad to miss this chance to learn about her innovative techniques and see her newest collection of work in person, but the good news is, you can find her new book online at SAM Shop! Learn more about this artist and her book below.

Explore and gain new skills in pottery with local artist Deb Schwartzkopf in her recently published book, Creative Pottery: Innovative Techniques & Experimental Designs in Thrown & Handbuilt Ceramics. This book provides tutorials in the basic tools and techniques for beginners, while also refreshing foundational skills with new techniques and inspiration for experienced potters. The introductory chapter includes essential information, such as: setting goals, building a basic tool kit, setting up a wheel, and making and using templates. Later chapters add complexity through ideas such as decorative edges, bisque molds, and throwing closed forms.

Deb Schwartzkopf introduces these foundational and new techniques to potters through step-by-step photos, templates that can be used by readers, and beautiful photos of her work and the work of other active American potters. In each chapter, she profiles one or two potters, showing images of their work and asking them questions about their techniques, inspiration, and artistic process. These profiles provide readers with context about current work in the field and illustrations of how the techniques and ideas taught in the book can be employed. Through this book, potters can learn how to create many forms, including: cake stands, bud vases, goblets, teapots, pitchers, dessert boats, and juicers, all illustrated with photos and clear instructions.

Schwartzkopf is a studio potter, instructor, and active artist in Seattle. Her studio, Rat City Studios, has evolved into a communal clay establishment, where she teaches classes, creates her pottery, and mentors assistants. Schwartzkopf was born in Seattle, earned her MFA from Penn State University, and taught at schools including: University of Washington, Ohio University, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She was named Ceramics Monthly and Ceramic Arts Daily’s 2019 Artist of the Year. With her pottery, she works to make tableware that infuses life with purposeful beauty. Learn new techniques or inspire an artist you know with this new book, on sale now at the SAM Shop.

– Pamela Jaynes, SAM Gallery Coordinator

Images: Quarry Publishing, matisse lb photography

A Message of Solidarity

The Seattle Art Museum believes that Black lives matter and stands in support of Black families, friends, colleagues, and communities across the country as they grieve and seek justice for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all victims of police brutality. We mourn the lives lost and, as we say their names, we recognize that we cannot be silent.

Systemic and institutional racism pervades every corner of American life, including cultural institutions such as the Seattle Art Museum. SAM recognizes the inequities faced by Black Americans, and we acknowledge the work that SAM must do and the impact of our work on our community. Since the 2000s, SAM’s Education & Community Engagement Committee has helped guide SAM’s programming and community partnerships. We will continue to listen to this inspiring group of advocates as we make changes to better lead by example within our arts community and city to create a country where Black people and other people of color are not oppressed.

In 2017, the museum’s Equity Team and leadership integrated an equity statement of the museum’s official values into SAM’s strategic plan, which guides all we do. It reads:

We are responsive to cultural communities and experiences, and we think critically about the role art plays in empowering social justice and structural change to promote equity in our society. We are dedicated to racial equity in all that we do.

We know that we can do more. We must begin by looking at ourselves and working to uncover the structural biases within our own organization.

Art is a crucial way of sharing unique perspectives, reminding us of the past, and envisioning future possibilities. Throughout history, art has been used for education, revolution, politics, propaganda, emotions, subversion, and sharing transformative experiences. SAM believes that art always contains a message and cannot be neutral. We rely on our collection, exhibitions, and the artists we work with to reflect our institutional values and we can, and will, take tangible actions to enact necessary change in our society. 

We are committed to:

  • Striving for racial equity in our exhibitions, educational programs, hiring practices, and all activities at the museum
  • Sharing work by Black artists in our collection and in our communications. For the next week, we will not be promoting the museum on social media, in order to amplify the views of organizations, artists, activists, and individual Black voices
  • Continuing to increase the acquisition and exhibition of more works by artists of color
  • Featuring artwork by Black artists in the following exhibitions and installations in the next year:

John Akomfrah: Future History
Aaron Fowler: Into Existence
Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle
Barbara Earl Thomas: The Geography of Innocence
Storied Objects
Lessons From the Institute of Empathy

There are many ways to show support and solidarity at this moment. As a part of the Seattle art community, SAM would like to encourage you to support local Black-led arts organizations through donations and engagement. This list is by no means comprehensive and we encourage you to add to it in the comments.

SAM Connects: Naramore Virtual Art Show

Since 1985, Seattle Public Schools has held the Naramore Art Show to share the works of its arts students and to celebrate their achievements with their community. Floyd A. Naramore, whose name is honored by this exhibition, was a visionary architect who invested deeply in his community and in the education of students. He designed over 22 schools, including Roosevelt, Garfield and Cleveland high schools, and several middle school buildings.

Seattle Art Museum has been a partner in this program for many years now, providing support and promotion of the exhibition.  Around this time of year, artists and their family and friends would gather at SAM for the highly anticipated celebration and awards ceremony, normally filled with live music, refreshments, and performances. This time-honored tradition was dedicated to celebrating the creativity and excellence of each participating artist. The museum’s lobby would be abuzz with joyous chatter as students’ excitedly perused the halls looking for their art, and beaming as they saw their work—a piece of themselves hanging on the walls.

But with growing concerns of the COVID-19 global pandemic and social distancing guidelines, our small team of SPS administrators and SAM educators feared this would be the first time in over 30 years the exhibition might not be shown, at least in person. As stay home orders began, extended, and schools were forced to cancel the remainder of the school year in person, it became clear that our fears had come true. As we came to terms with this fact, we also reminded ourselves that Naramore is the culmination of a school year of hard work by art students and teachers. We were committed to creating space, where none had existed before, to honor the time, energy, and voices of young artists. Thanks to hard work from administrators across SPS, we were able to turn that desire into a reality. Naramore continues on as a virtual museum on the SPS website and includes over 200 works of art by students from across the district. The show will be on view through June 30, 2020 and can be accessed online here! Additionally, students are invited to continue sharing artwork they’ve been creating at home during quarantine on Instagram under #artistsofsps.

You are also invited to join us for the virtual celebration on Thursday, June 4th at 5:30 P.M. The celebration will include a viewing of the artwork, keynote by Superintendent Denise Juneau, student video diaries, and more! No registration required, just tune in on YouTube, stream on the Seattle School District webpage, or tune in to any local TV channels:

  • Comcast 26 (standard-def) 319 (hi-def)
  • Wave 26 (standard-def) 695 (hi-def)
  • Century Link 8008 (standard-def) 8508 (hi-def)

At this time more than ever, we need to center the creativity and insight of our young people and amplify their voices for the world to hear. From the devastation of COVID-19 to relentless police violence against black and brown people, our community is in crisis. Art has the power to express our fears and our joy; document our history; shape our dreams, and so much more.

We are forever grateful to these young people who have given us the gift of their perspective and ask that our community take the time to reflect on their wisdom and leadership, so that we can all do our parts in dismantling injustice.

Molly Cain, Baby Gun

A photo of a sculpture of a toddler-sized hand posed as if it is holding a gun

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been kinda obsessed with the dichotomy between the innocence of children and the harsh violence of guns. Things like nerf guns and videogames were fun as a kid but what are they saying about gun violence? That is what inspired my piece. I wanted to highlight the soft innocence of the toddler hand vs. the violence of the hand motion.

Remi Adejumobi, Overcoming

image of a line drawing of gun, with the top being the head of  Martin Luther King, Jr. and a rose coming out of the end

I was inspired by the idea that Martin Luther King symbolizes peace. Our society needs lass hate and violence and more peaceful thoughts and actions. The colors flower draws attention to hope, to the possibility that we can make our country a more beautiful place to live in if we support each other more and find ways to overcome our negative feelings.

Camellia Maxson, Pear

I created this piece because I wanted to show emotion in another way besides the face. I liked the idea of someone who is so angry squeezing a pear until it bruises and leaks juice. I chose markers because it is a medium I enjoy working with due to the markers quick drying nature and flat colors yet easy to blend when needed. The main challenge was drawing the hand squeezing the pear.

Ella Maurer, The Beginning

I created this piece to capture the emotions felt during the beginning of my relationship, while connecting with others who have felt similar emotions, past or present. I want to spread comfort thought knowing that others have felt caution, growing, trust, love, and more.

Zoom Inside SAM for Your Next Meeting!

Download SAM virtual backgrounds to use for your next Zoom meet up, happy hour, party, or hang out. Choose from beloved spaces like the Porcelain Room or Tea Room downtown, the stunning Art Deco Asian Art Museum building, or use an aerial view of the Olympic Sculpture Park as your backdrop. We miss you and hope that seeing yourself sitting in these SAM spaces will fill you with good art vibes until you are able to come sit in our galleries and visit our museums in person!

The Puzzles, T-Shirts, & Online Art of Gregory Blackstock

Seattle artist Gregory Blackstock is known for his encyclopedic works identifying and labeling the world around him. Blackstock uses pencils, markers, and crayons to create his orderly visual lists. He documents and explores items from the natural world such as birds, animals, and plants, as well as items from the manmade world including clothing, cars, and buildings. Each item is clearly labeled and organized, informed by his research from books and work with local librarians. You can see one of Blackstock’s detailed works in The World Landmark Buildings of Greatest Histories & Heights Recorded Puzzle, for sale online now at the SAM Shop. This 500 piece puzzle includes beloved buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Taj Mahal, and Big Ben.

Gregory Blackstock’s artwork is also being featured online through Greg Kucera Gallery. In his fifth solo show at the Greg Kucera Gallery, Blackstock identifies and labels a variety of subjects including crows, shoes, fireworks, lilies, and spices in his limited-edition prints from original drawings. Check it out online through June 27. These works were printed by Stephen Rock, of Rock’s Studio, who is also an artist from SAM Gallery. Blackstock’s work was also featured at the 2019 Seattle Art Fair.

Experience the visual balance and variety of forms that characterize Gregory Blackstock’s art through the SAM exclusive puzzle or this cool t-shirt available online from the SAM Store.

– Pamela Jaynes SAM Gallery Coordinator 

Photos: Natali Wiseman

SAM Connects Community through Letters in Quarantine

Whether seemingly big or small, sustaining connection is more critical than ever. Jenae Williams, Exhibitions and Publications Associate, and Seohee Kim, Division Coordinator for Education and Public Engagement, recently started writing letters to stay connected to their community in quarantine. They’ve shared a Q&A of their wonderful project below.

Not only do handwritten letters support the US Postal Service, brighten up someone’s day, and remind others that they are not alone, but right now your letters can support community by showing love to Chinatown-International District! If you’re feeling inspired, please check out Love Letters to Chinatown-International District #CIDLoveLetters. Share your love letters, and the Wing Luke Museum will collect and showcase submissions in a digital exhibition as part of the Wing Luke Museum’s Resilience Campaign. Deadline is May 18! May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month so we hope you will take some encouragement and inspiration from this post and write a letter to Seattle’s International District or support the USPS by sending a letter a friend or loved one!

#LettersInQuarantine

What first inspired you to write letters to people in quarantine?

Jenae: I genuinely miss seeing my colleagues at SAM every day, and I was first inspired by my managers Chiyo Ishikawa and Tina Lee, who do so well at checking in on many of us at SAM. Later, I read about how the US Postal Service is in danger of going out of business, which upset me deeply. USPS provides 600,000 jobs, delivers essential items (medicine! voting ballots!), and it’s the only mailing service that reaches every household across the nation, no matter how rural. I am also reminded that compared to private mailing services, sending a letter or priority mail with the USPS service is equitable. It costs me the same amount of money to send a letter to a friend locally as it does to send a letter to my grandma in Hawaii. 

Seohee: I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while, but I’d always brushed it to the back of my mind because I was unsure of when or how to begin. However, after over a month of being indoors and focusing solely on work, I needed a simple but creative outlet to allow myself to detach from the screen and practice self-care. Then, I was having a brainstorming video call with my dear colleague, friend, and muse, Priya, who showed me the beautiful postcards she’d been designing for her close ones. Insert mind spark here. A few days later, I saw Jenae’s heartwarming Instagram story showing support to USPS with her letters to friends and family, and I felt the need to (finally) take action. 

Ellsworth Kelly stamps!

Where can we buy our own Ellsworth Kelly stamps?

Jenae: USPS released these stamps in 2019, so they may be hard to find. But check your local post office. Some locations, like mine, still have leftover sheets in stock. I’m excited for the Ruth Asawa stamps that are scheduled to be released this year! 

Postcard coloring book from Daiso!

Tell us about the stationery/paper that you’re using for this project?

Jenae: I’m using whatever paper I have at home right now. My mom gave me a pad of stationary for this project that pays homage to the early days of airmail so I’m using that first. With this paper, I like that after you’re finished writing, you fold its edges up, and it turns into its own envelope. I also have Hello Kitty stationery from my childhood that I’ll use later as well.

Seohee: I have been a hoarder of all things stationery since middle school, so I’ve been making use of my ridiculous collection. Among the bunch, my go-to have been these Daiso coloring books that have various images of flowers on the front and postcard layouts on the back of each page. In my free time and whenever I’m feeling stressed, I tear out a page to color while bopping to some good ol’ 90s K-pop. It’s been surprisingly healing for me, and possibly the only routine I’ve maintained over the past four weeks.

What was the response to your letter-writing project after you posted about it on Instagram?

Jenae: A lot of people responded with their address, but some just responded to say that they loved the stamps. I’m so glad. Maybe they’ll go out and buy their own. I especially love that I received notes from friends who I haven’t talked to in a long time.

Seohee: Excitement and support! I received quite a few responses from friends around the country with their addresses! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting them to be as open to sharing such personal information, but that might just stem from the trust issues I’ve developed after watching nothing but serial killer documentaries on Netflix for the past two months. 

Write a love letter to the International District!

Have you found writing letters to be much different than writing emails? Any early letter-writing tips?

Jenae: I send work emails every day, but letters are definitely a different form of writing. I’m still learning to embrace the time and thoughtfulness it takes. If your thoughts start to run amok (this happens to me frequently) as you’re writing, just go with it. I have to remind myself that it’s OK to show my inner life sometimes.

Seohee: Yes! I’ve found that they’re much more personal because I’m not writing with a specific intent in mind as I would for, say, a work email. It allows me to pause and really think about each person and what individual messages I want to send that might bring even a tiny bit of joy to their day. Not exactly a tip, but I’ve been having fun picking out individual postcards based on the image of the flower and their meaning. It adds just another hint of personalization to the entire experience. Also, I’ve been laminating my postcards with packing tape before mailing them out so that people have the option to wipe them down with a sanitizing cloth upon receiving them—just another COVID-19 precaution from a germaphobe. 

Finally, what are you hoping to get from all of this?

Jenae: I hope one of my letters will be a bright spot to someone in quarantine and help them feel connected to me/humanity in a small way.

Seohee: I hope something as small as this could be a reason for someone to smile amidst the chaos that has become our new normal. If we can keep the web of connection and small joys going/growing, even better!

Images: Lauren Farris, Seohee Kim, Jenae Williams. 

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