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!
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!
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
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 byAlex 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 byDeborah 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Variationswith 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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
At SAM, we have long held an unofficial motto: We are all in this together. Perhaps you’ve seen these words as you’ve entered our downtown building? This work by artist Mark Mumford is a reminder that in good times and bad, we all stand together. We hope this video from Amada Cruz, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO is nice reminder of this motto and that you will stand with SAM—your art museum—while our three locations are currently closed.
If you make a gift to the SAM Fund today or during GiveBIG, May 5 and 6, you will not only have a wonderful opportunity to directly support SAM, but your donation will be doubled! Thanks to a group of generous trustees, all memberships and donations to the SAM Fund will be matched up to $500,000, now through the end of June.
During this difficult time, we have been heartened by the generous support that we have already received from our patrons, members, and community. For this, we cannot thank you enough. We hope you too will also consider making a gift to the SAM Fund to help us overcome the dramatic and sudden loss of ticket, event, and shop revenue during our closure. Gifts towards the SAM Fund, will not only help navigate our temporary closure but also directly impact our ability to retain our dedicated and talented staff, preserve our world-class collection, develop new exhibitions and programming, and provide innovative virtual art experiences.
Please help us to connect art to your life. SAM has been your art museum and a vibrant part of the Seattle cultural community for more than 85 years and with your help we’ll surely be here for another 85 . . . and beyond.
“It’s obviously a
really exciting thing,” said Barbara Brotherton, a curator of Native American
art at the Seattle Art Museum, of the recent exposure. The museum has a long
track record of showing Native American art ranging from historical to
contemporary periods. “We’re just in this modern moment where it’s gaining
cachet from venues like art fairs, contemporary galleries, and biennials.”
announced this week that it
is under new ownership, having been acquired by startup entrepreneur
and Geekwire chairman Jonathan Sposato.
“A Place for Meaningful Cultural Conversations” declared the headline
for art critic Lee Lawrence’s thoughtful
review of the reimagined Asian Art Museum,
which appeared in the February 25 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.
bululs, or rice deities, from the Philippines once watched over terraced
paddies, and they’re among the museum’s most modest yet most powerful works.
Given the nature and small size of its Philippine holdings, the Seattle Asian
Art Museum probably would have kept them in storage had it opted for a
traditional installation. But in another benefit of thematic groupings,
they—and other long-warehoused treasures in the museum’s collection—now have a
role, enriching the new installation not just with their stories but with their
Susie J. Lee is making a short video about what makes a museum “interesting and
cool.” The Seattle Times’ Alan Berner captured
photos of the recent shoot at the Asian Art Museum.
“As a trained
anthropologist, Hurston traveled down the East Coast and sat on stoops and
corners, the storytelling stages and communal gathering spaces of Black
communities, where, with academic rigor and a loving gaze, she listened,
studied and collected the stories Black folk tell.”
Holland Cotter of the
New York Times on
MoMA’s Donald Judd survey that opens on Sunday, noting that his work
“can now be seen to offer pleasures, visual and conceptual, that any audience
with open eyes, can relate to.”
“It is not often a
new category of art historical research is proposed as a solution to these
persistent problems, but The
Allure of Matter: Material Art from China makes a compelling case for the
usefulness of a new analytical structure around Chinese art.”
Your next chance to experience the Olympic Sculpture Park through the Indigenous lens of SAM’s winter resident is tonight, February 27 from 7 to 9 pm! Architectural designer and artist Kimberly Deriana (Mandan/Hidatsa) has spent the last two months working in the park researching, offering workshops, and constructing a temporary installation. Deriana has used her residency as a space for sharing Indigenous knowledge surrounding the many uses of cattail materials. The temporary cattail and cedar structure she has created is a space where everyone is invited to gather and experience cultural celebration. The event will include performances by Aiyanna Jade Stitt and Hailey Tayathy, and storytelling and song by Kayla Guyett and Paige Pettibon.
Kimberly Deriana specializes in sustainable, environmental Indigenous architecture, housing, and planning. Deriana’s methodologies focus on incorporating Indigenous lifestyle practices in relation to past, present, and future, designing for the 7 generations. We sat down with her to learn a little more about her experience as SAM’s artist in residence and to learn more about her creative process.
SAM: What goals do you have for your residency at the Olympic Sculpture Park?
KIMBERLY DERIANA: I want to activate the park through an Indigenous lens. As an architect designer and somebody who loves urban design, I’ve been drawn to this park since I first moved here. Part of creating visibility is bringing other people along in the process and giving them opportunities, too. I really try to include people and families who have been doing this work for years while giving new urban Native people outlets in every project on which I work.
This residency is a learning opportunity for me; the way I enjoy learning is to involve others. It’s about the way we learn as a community, the way we make as a community, and the way we approach being in the world and sustainability. When you’re gathering cattails, there’s an appropriate time to gather and there are appropriate places to gather. Learning all of that protocol has been really eye-opening. Because I grew up as an urban Native and wasn’t always shown those protocols, I try to make a conscious effort to create space and time for the protocol knowledge as an adult.
Tell us about the workshops and youth that you
worked with to include Indigenous communities.
I’ve always done art and design but being in
the art scene is a new space for me; I wanted to explore the co-creation
process. Sharing resources is an important component of the process, I believe.
This space has a very educational, institutional vibe and it lends itself to
the scope needed for community workshops. The scale of the work required to
enliven the space needs many hands. The piece itself is practice and healing work.
The collaborators and I were here most
weekends in January and February. Since we are on Suquamish and Duwamish
traditional lands, one weekend we had Indigenous teachers from Suquamish. These
amazing women who are educators for and from their community—Tina, Jackson, and
Kippy Joe— and the amount of information and knowledge that they share in four hours is just indescribable. You
can’t get that on YouTube or from a professor. You have to experience their
oral teachings to begin to understand the richness and depth of the knowledge.
We had three Indigenous youth that day, and then we had a couple visitors just stop by who were interested in what we were doing. We had time to teach them and they got to learn. Every weekend I’ve had at least one Indigenous teen come in and help work with us through a partnership with yəhaw̓.
What are some of the historical uses of cattail mats?
In this region, mats were traditionally used as sheathing for summer structures. Mats are used all over the world, globally and indigenously for different surfaces. In the Plateau, Plains, Woodlands, and Southeast regions, mats are used for protection and warmth on their architectural structures.
Cattails have a multitude of uses. They protect us. When they’re just in the ground they clean the water and remove toxins. They can be food; they can be shelter; they can be water. When gathering cattails in the right spots, their uses extend beyond those listed so that one can understand the sustainability that the plant provides. Plant knowledge leads to understanding sustainability; sustainability leads to healing; healing leads to understanding their sacredness. I want everyone to know this.
I’m trying to make paper with cattails because
I think that’s a more respectful use of them since they were gathered in the
late fall season. I am super excited to do more scientific research on the
sustainability of cattails, learning more traditional knowledge about them, and
weaving. I realize you can approach a project and commit to working with a
material, but then all these other sacred teachings come up, such as how to work with other materials and plants.
It’s not homogenous when we’re learning about our plant relatives.
Why have some of the cattails been cut and
others left long and uneven?
As I started the process of creating this temporary installation with cattails some teachers said it was okay to gather now. When we made some mats, I knew they were not ideal materials and then, in the middle of the month, I learned that you should gather cattails at the end of summer for making mats. For this reason, some of the mats are trimmed and others are raggedy, in order to reveal the imperfection of the process. I like to break things apart until they become abstract, so that even though I’m using really traditional materials, the way I use them means you can’t necessarily tell what it is. For example, maybe your eye reads it as hair or as a bone or antlers. The raggedy mats—having them be more than one thing–helped convey that abstract concept. I think that process was kind of successful.
My architectural background makes me interested in exploring this building and wall system and I started to research and dissect like I normally do for a project. In architecture, you’re always researching and then drawing your theory. In art, you’re fabricating your theory. That’s when all this new information appeared to me. When you start to source your material and put it together, like, “This is why you have to harvest at a certain time and why you have to know where to gather and to get the reeds that are a certain height.” There are just all these little steps that make the process more efficient and that our ancestors knew and had good engineering minds for. I’m still doing it by trial and error and trying to find mentors.
The description of the temporary installation
mentions that the structure is a portal for healing. How is this present in the
work that is in the PACCAR Pavilion?
The sculpture forms a circular arbor and basket-like space. It incorporates some of the knowledge of the medicine wheel into the directions of the space and the layout. The teachings of the medicine wheel helps to orient our bodies with the land, plants and animals, nature and natural forces. In Plains tribes, you enter from the East like the sunrise. Here, in the West, a lot of structures face the water. All of the weavings that we made with Tina and Kippy are on that side and create filtered views to the water as much as possible since the water is so special. The North can reference the future, moving on, and death in some ways, too. The northern, open view gives people the opportunity to see that beautiful view of the park. The cattail threshold symbolizes a doorway into the future. A sustainable future holds the promise of healing.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM’s Content Strategist & Social Media Manager
Virginia “Jinny” Wright, a pillar of the SAM family, passed away last week at the age of 91. The Seattle Times obituary of the collector and philanthropist noted that she “lived for art—and dedicated herself to sharing it with others.” KUOW and ARTnews also shared remembrances of her legacy. She will be greatly missed.
KEXP’s Hans Anderson interviewed SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu about the reimagined Seattle Asian Art Museum for their Sound & Vision show; head to their archive for Saturday, February 15 for the story, which started at 7:49 am.
“So the piece, like
Parker’s music, is full of extremes, pushing the voice’s boundaries,” [tenor
Joshua] Stewart says. “When you have a piece this difficult, you have to bring
to it everything you have to offer. You have to go on the full journey.”
“This is coming at
a time when museums and other cultural institutions are really trying to make a
case for their existence,” says the OMCA’s associate director of evaluation and
visitor insight, Johanna Jones, who led the project. “We know we make a
difference in people’s lives, now we need to really demonstrate it through
Seattle Asian Art Museum is officially reopen! Thank you to the thousands
of people who streamed through the reimagined galleries at the free
housewarming event last weekend. The museum starts regular hours on Wednesday,
“I felt freed, well, just to look”: Stefan Milne examines Boundless at the Asian Art Museum and The American War at ARTS at King Street Station, which both “explore how we see Asia.”
Seattle Refined shot a recent episode from the museum, including a fantastic segment
with SAM curators Foong Ping and Xiaojin Wu (starts at :40).
“Your eyes and mind
enter them easily and roam through the different layers of brushwork and narrative
suggestion. There’s an unexpected optimism to all this. The paintings also
dwell in silence, slow us down and hypnotize.”
The Seattle Asian
Art Museum reopens to the public this weekend with a free two-day celebration.
10,000 free tickets for the housewarming event have been claimed, but the
museum reopens with regular hours on Wednesday, February 12.
questions we’re asking for this reopening are, ‘Where is Asia? What is Asia?’”
says Xiaojin Wu, the curator of Japanese and Korean art at the museum. “We’re
showing how the borders are fluid throughout history.” –From The Art Newspaper
“When the Asian Art
Museum opens on Saturday, the architects hope that previous visitors will see
their museum in a new light. Says Amada Cruz, CEO and director of the Seattle
Art Museum, ‘We could not be more excited to open the doors of the museum and
welcome everyone back.’” –Elizabeth Fazzare, Architectural Digest
“With so much to
see and contemplate in the Seattle Asian Art Museum, there needed to be space
to let the mind wander into a void for a bit. The experience would not be
complete without it. The curators and architects all should be commended for
seeing through a new vision that will expand audience’s awareness of Asia, but
also remind them that the human pursuit of beauty and the sublime is, indeed,
timeless and boundless.” –T.s. Flock, Vanguard
“With works that
emphasized the immaterial, or the breakdown of matter, the exhibition begged
the question: how applicable is the term Material Art? It seems that at this
early stage, the label may conjure more questions than answers.”
“The concept of
their endeavor . . . is simple: Put together one show a year with a kickass
lineup, pay the performers royally, preach the gospel that working artists
deserve a fair wage, have a damn good time and repeat.”
“After a long pause
a nine-year-old said: ‘Objects have rights.’ The phrase has stuck. It captures
both the need to conserve objects and to consider them as active participants
in the museum experience.”
The Seattle Asian Art Museum reopens February 8 and we want to be
sure you know all the free and discounted ways that you can visit the
reimagined and reinstalled museum!
Even though the Housewarming:
Free Reopening Weekend is sold out and we are not accepting walkups on
February 8 or 9, there are many other opportunities to visit for free. Today’s
Seattle Asian Art Museum breaks
boundaries to offer a thematic, rather than geographic or chronological,
exploration of art from the
world’s largest continent. The restoration of the historic Art Deco building,
improvements to critical systems, expanded gallery and education spaces, and a
new park lobby that connects the museum to the surrounding Volunteer Park are
just some of the ways the Asian Art Museum has been transformed and preserved
as a cultural and community resource for future generations.
An important part of the work that took place while the Asian Art
museum was closed for renovation and expansion isn’t something you will notice
about the architecture or art. The City of Seattle financially supported the
preservation and improvements of SAM’s city-owned Art Deco home and in return,
we made a commitment to offer more free ways for members of the community to visit
the Asian Art Museum!
Many programs such as lectures, performances, and tours at the museum are free and include free entry to the galleries. Check out our Free First Saturdays series for kids!
SAM provides discounted rates for students, teens, seniors, and military with ID.
Seniors (65+) and military can visit for $12.99
Students and teens age 15–18 can get tickets for $9.99
Children (14 & under) are always free.
SAM members are free. Join today and RSVP to see the museum before it opens to the public during the Members Open House on February 5 and 6.
First Saturdays and the Second Thursdays of every month are free to all.
The First Friday of every month the Asian Art Museum is free for seniors.
Bring a group of 10 or more and get discounted tickets. Find out more about group visits!
Educators can visit for free anytime with ID. Mark your calendars for a special Educator Open House at the Asian Art Museum on February 27!
Did you know that we now offer free school tours for all public schools at all SAM locations? We also offer bus subsidies for title 1 schools. School tours at the Asian Art Museum start march 1—find out more!