Chagall was a prolific artist, producing numerous pieces in a variety of media.
Renowned for his richly colored, idiosyncratic style of painting that weds
abstraction and Cubism, some of his lesser-known masterpieces revolved around
the theater. Chagall’s relationship with the stage began in 1911, when he
worked on set designs for the Ballets Russes. He continued to contribute to
Russian-based stage designs throughout the ‘20s, before moving to Paris in
this was an artistically productive period for Chagall, the Nazi occupation of
France made living in Paris unsafe for the artist, who was Jewish. With the
assistance of organizations working to extricate artists and intellectuals from
Europe, Chagall and his wife immigrated to New York for the duration of World
War II, arriving in the United States in 1941.
1942, Chagall was hired by the Ballet Theater of New York to design the ballet
costumes and sets for a new play. Based on the poem “The Gypsies,” by Alexander
Pushkin, the ballet Aleko featured music
The ballet follows the story of Aleko, the protagonist who falls in love with a
Romani girl named Zemfira. Their love is not everlasting, however, and by the
fourth act Aleko kills Zemfira and her new lover in a fit of jealous rage. While
Chagall had worked on set designs before, this was the first time he applied
his skills to a ballet. He ultimately designed four backdrops—one for each act—and
over 70 costumes. While the ballet’s production was to be completed in New
York, union rules forbade Chagall from painting his own sets. As a result,
production moved to Mexico City, an environment which greatly influenced
Chagall’s designs. Heavily inspired by both Russian folklore and Mexican art
and architecture, Chagall produced beautifully whimsical hand-painted ballet
costumes and backdrops, including numerous design studies.
Study for Aleko’s Horse is one such
study, merging images from both the second and fourth acts of the play. The
study’s rich, vibrant colors and whimsical subject matter capture the dynamic
and psychological aspects of the story. In the second act, which revolves
around a lively carnival, Aleko and Zemfira are still in love. By the fourth
act, Aleko dreams of strange and nightmarish fantasies, with images that twist
and swirl before his eyes. Aleko’s nightmares take him to the brink of insanity—and,
jealous and enraged, he kills Zemfira, in love with another man.
The juxtaposition of these two scenes represents the dramatic turn of events, synthesized
in Chagall’s study as a densely layered, colorful dreamscape.
Image: Study for Aleko’s Horse, 1953-56, Marc Chagall, Oil on canvas, 18 × 24 in. (45.7 × 61 cm), Gift of Gladys and Sam Rubinstein, 2014.26.9 Estate of Marc Chagall/Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Very early on in my role as one of SAM’s Emerging Arts Leader Interns, our mentor, David Rue, asked us to write down three personal or professional goals we wished to achieve during our time here at SAM. To be completely honest, I was all over the place during the first few weeks, as I was struggling to find where I fit into the museum to be a successful intern. Despite feeling this way, the one thing that I was certain and hopeful for was to make SAM a place I happily call home: be a part of SAM and SAM be a part me.
As a student at the University of Washington Bothell, being my whole self and feeling at home is what truly made me happier than I ever imagined. In order to feel that same happiness at SAM, I tried to be fully present by having a positive mind and heart. I reminded myself to be my bubbly and kind self and to be comfortable with the people around me. This was way easier said than done.
On top of feeling like a lost intern, I was already struggling with adjusting to a lifestyle that was the exact opposite of what I was used to. I wanted to be a big fish in a little pond that everyone looked up to for guidance. However, being in a new, urban city where nobody really knew me meant this wasn’t the case anymore. I felt lost between the Cat that grew up in California and the adult Cat that lives in Washington. Where would I go? Who am I supposed to be? With all these new changes and heavy feelings, I thought to myself, “I don’t how I’m going to achieve my goal or if I’m even going to get there. Good luck.”
Priya Frank and Seohee Kim are the two mentors I give all my gratitude to for guiding me through my struggles. Talking to them made me realize that I was still a tiny fish in a huge pond that needed to be willing to grow and learn from others. This was a reminder to be humble and to remember that learning and growing never stops, even when you think you’re at the top. Growing only starts when you are uncomfortable, yet willing to feel and embrace that discomfort with an open mind and heart to learn something new. Their kind words of wisdom touched my heart.
After this realization, I started to feel like I could reach my goal. The big project we had the opportunity to do was the My Favorite Things Tour. For this project, I researched different art pieces, connected them to real-life experiences, centered everything around a specific theme, and proudly presented my work to the public. Wow! I will always remember our first practice of walking around and talking about the different artworks we had in mind for our tours. I knew I was on the right track in connecting the art to my personal journeys, but there was much more research and practice that needed to be completed.
After this practice I was motivated to reach out to the curators to learn more about the different art pieces, which was exactly what I did. It was so inspiring getting to hear from and learn from the curators and see how passionate they are. I also learned more on my own by reading books about the artwork and artist. Most importantly, completing all the work would not even be half of what it was without my fellow colleague and friend Lauren Farris, the other Emerging Arts Leader Intern. Working closely with her gave us the space to learn from each other’s personal and professional experiences, all while sharing this internship together. I remember practicing our tours in the galleries, just talking through them while sitting down, and always changing our art pieces and stories every time we practiced. Being by each other’s side allowed us to be vulnerable and really push through to make these tours happen.
When the day finally came, we were there for each other to see all our hard work come to life. That is just so amazing to me because there were so many people and experiences collaborating to create something great. Swimming with the big fish was not so scary after all. As I said during my tour when I was talking about Childe Hassam’s Spring on West 78th Street, “from this painting and my experience with my SAM family, I learned that home is not a place, but a feeling.” Saying these words with my whole heart, showed me that I was able to reach my one and only goal, despite being so lost in everything else. This internship was more than I hoped for and now that it has come to a close I can truly say that I was a part of SAM and SAM will always be a part of me. SAM is a place I happily call home.
A new school year often welcomes crisp air, spiral notebooks, and pumpkin deliciousness. This school year brings one other exciting change: Seattle Art Museum school tours will now be free for all public schools at all SAM locations! Bus subsidies are also available for Title 1 schools. Offering free tours for public schools grew out of SAM’s mission and strategic plan to champion access and equity for all. The museum firmly believes every student deserves access to high-quality arts education and creative learning.
Even though the arts remain a required school subject by Washington State law, arts education is often one of the first programs to be cut. According to ArtsEd Washington, “In Washington State, 75% of elementary students receive only two hours, or less, of arts education each week.” Not only that, but Create Advantage Seattle notes, “Race, family income, and home language are all predictors of a students’ access to arts education in Seattle Public Schools.”
Research reveals that consistent arts education improves high school graduation rates, empathy, motivation to stay in school, critical thinking, voter turnout, and even raises math scores. Arts Impact says, “Arts-infused learning in reading and math eliminates the achievement gap between children of color and poverty and their white upper/middle-class peers.” Also, SAM’s Kayla Skinner Deputy Director for Education and Public Engagement, Regan Pro, strongly believes in furthering arts education. “Everyone talks about how they value things like creativity and innovation. If we are saying that but aren’t supporting arts in schools, then how do we expect those muscles to grow?”
tours at SAM start with a warm welcome from a trained docent or tour guide and a
teaching artist. The docent or tour guide leads the group into SAM’s galleries
where students and teachers might stare into the eyes of a giant mouse
sculpture, learn the history behind Kwakwaka’wakw house posts, or discover a
treasure chest lock in the Porcelain Room. With three locations and art from
all over the world, tours can complement and enhance any curriculum.
After the tour, SAM’s
teaching artists facilitate an art-making experience based on the works that
students just saw in the galleries. Students walk away holding their own work
of art, such as a three-dimensional sculpture, a two-point perspective
painting, or a self-designed family crest. Plus, teaching artists provide
students with an opportunity to view potential career paths in the arts.
“Being in the art museum was a new experience for many of my students. They were intrigued and, to my surprise, were able to connect with some artists. I feared they would find the museum too “high-brow,” but the variety of art allowed most to connect in some way.”
In addition to free school tours, SAM has continued to develop school partnerships. One of those partnerships, called “Drawing from Nature,” is now in its fourth year. Through this partnership, SAM offers all second graders in Highline School District a chance to explore the Olympic Sculpture Park. Building off these field trips, SAM provides lesson plans and professional development sessions to teachers. Furthermore, SAM is partnering with Seattle Public Schools on a new program at the Seattle Asian Art Museum when it reopens in early 2020. This partnership supports third through fifth-grade teachers as they build connections between art and social studies.
“This was an amazing experience and many of the themes were continued to talk about and apply in other subject areas.”
SAM’s Senior Manager of School & Educator Programs, Anna Allegro, says school partnerships provide students with a sense of ownership of SAM. “We’ll work with a school for five years, the kids will come every year, and they just have this sense of ownership and comfort. It’s so different from when they first walked in where SAM might have felt like an intimidating kind of space. Our goal is that students know they can be seen and heard here.”
With SAM’s partnerships and free school tours, the
museum is honored to support arts education and creative
learning for all young people whilst continuing the goal to promote equity and
access for all. As much as art museums play a role in advancing arts education,
this mission extends beyond our four walls to everyone in the community.
“Everyone can be an advocate for arts education. If you’re a parent, talk to your principal. Talk to your PSA. Ask them how they are supporting the arts. How is that a part of their classroom? If you’re a grandparent or if you live in a neighborhood, understand what the public school is in your neighborhood and how you can help support it.”
What is it about Silk Roads history and art that interests so many people? In the late 19th century, German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term ‘Silk Road’ or ‘Silk Routes’ as part of his map-making efforts. After all, better maps of travel routes had commercial value for access to coal or building railroads, for instance. In the early 20th century, several spectacular “discoveries” (ie, new to the West) of magnificent troves of art and manuscripts in Central Asia and western China fueled the fascination.
Now the plural ‘Silk Roads’ is used to better describe the many
complex historic trade routes through the Eurasian continent. The idea of
commercial exchange across a continent that involved interactions of many cultures,
languages, religions, and arts can be such an appealing picture of cosmopolitan
societies—in contrast to present-day tensions at home and abroad. “Silk Road
nostalgia” refers to interpreting this history in the imagination as a time of
tolerance and international understanding as well as prosperity, rooted in hope
for peaceful and respectful global exchange in future.
The fall Saturday University Lecture Series, Silk Roads Past and Present: From Ancient Afghan Treasure to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, presents current understandings in seven lectures. Beginning with a talk on the Begram Hoard excavated in Afghanistan, we consider how these storerooms from the first century CE could contain Roman glass, Chinese lacquer, and extraordinarily carved ivories from India. A talk on Maritime Silk Roads explores the shipping that actually transported more goods than overland routes, despite the persistent image of camel caravans.
The Silk Roads also saw the spread of Buddhism, and two speakers explore Buddhist art in China. Two lesser-known religions are introduced in a talk on Zoroastrian and Manichaean arts. And what about silk? Find out about silk and fashion in Tang Dynasty China, as trade made new textile technologies, colors, and patterns available. The series concludes with a talk on China’s current international initiative also referred to as the New Silk Road. Please join us!
– Sarah Loudon,Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas
Image: Mogao Cave 237. Image courtesy of the Dunhuang Academy, photo: Zhang Weiwen.
In addition to their
booth-to-booth coverage of this past weekend’s Seattle Art Fair, Crosscut has
pieces by Emily Pothast and Margo Vansynghel examining the various outcomes of the Fair on
the local art scene.
“The festival will
highlight ‘artist-driven portraits of identity,’ which will take many forms
including visual art and performance, according to co-curator and dance artist
David Rue. ‘We’re using this approach so that artists can provide a
counterpoint to the dominant narrative told about people that look like them
while celebrating the power of culturally responsive rigor.’”
“What Does Radical Love Look Like?” Hyperallergic’s Seph Rodney explores that
question at the Ford Foundation Gallery’s latest show, featuring work by
Athi-Patra Ruga, Lina Puerta, and Ebony G. Patterson.
‘”This is someone
becoming — finding themselves, finding their voice, finding their practice,’
Ms. LaBouvier said. ‘I didn’t want to make him into a myth, or make him into a
sort of trauma-porn story either. And I thought the best way to do that was to
take a step back and let him speak for himself.’”
to Marvin Oliver, artist and professor emeritus at the University of
Washington, who died this week at the age of 73.
“’We have lost an amazing mentor and elder in our community and his
legacy will live on,’ Olsen said. ‘And those of us who understand his vision
and mission to support the Native students and enhance the visibility of Native
art and culture will make him and keep him proud and forge on with his
creates a stunning dialogue between the historical ‘porcelain room’ and our
modern attempt to reckon with the colonialism and institutional racism that
necessitated the creation of these beautiful objects.”
“Obviously, Transforest can’t capture certain things about trees—their smell, the
sound of leaves rustling in the wind, their sense of knowing. But as I stood
underneath it, sweating under all that sun, trying to figure out this
sculpture, I realized I was missing something simple, easily capture-able about
saturated color and minute detail, the works sit in bold contrast to the
zeitgeisty minimalism and pastel palettes of the past few years. It’s a rather
refreshing aesthetic twist, and a veritable feast for the eyes.”
An SOS, a lofty reminder, a memento mori: Crosscut’s Brangien
Davis visits Ted Youngs’ new Smoke Season
installation and looks at some other trees in art, including John Grade’s Middle Fork at SAM and the Neukom
Vivarium at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
“They peer up at the tree, which stands parallel to the Space
Needle — one conceived as a beacon of humanity’s bright future, the other
an urgent message from the here and now.”
at a collection more freely and greedily than most of us, from odd angles. They
often ferret out neglected or eccentric treasures, highlighting what museums
have but aren’t using; they can also reveal a collection’s weaknesses, its
biases and blind spots.”
We believe art is for everyone and right now everyone can experience a new kinetic sound sculpture installed at SAM’s 1st and Union entrance. Playing music, projecting poetry, and covered in the text, drawings, and collage by artists with lived experiences of homeless, Hear & Now is a collaboration between internationally celebrated artist, composer, and musician Trimpin and Path with Art students presented for you to view for free!
Built from an antique hand-pulled wagon originally built by Trimpin’s father in Germany, the work is activated by pressing the play button situated next to the object. Each tap triggers a different musical composition or poem created in collaboration with teaching artists. Hear & Now is free and accessible to all and will be on view through July 15. Visit the entire museum for free on Thursday, June 6, and catch the Hear & Now Performances and Artist Talkback taking place 6–8:30 pm featuring pop-up performances by the student artists, a movement piece directed by Rachel Brumer and Monique Holt accompanied by the musical compositions played by the sculpture, and a chance to hear from Trimpin.
Get primed for Thursday evening with this
interview with Trimpin and a Path with Art student artist.
How did you start working with Path with Art?
Five years ago, I was Composer in Residence with the Seattle Symphony
Orchestra. The last year of the three-year residency involves a public-outreach
workshop. I decided to work with a group of Path with Art student artists. I
was first introduced to Path with Art at a performance at the Hugo House; I was
impressed with the artistic caliber of all the performing artists.
Tyler Marcil: Jennifer Lobsenz, the Program Director at the time, asked me to participate in this project in the summer of 2017. We worked with Christina Orbe for six weeks and Yonnas Getahun for two weeks over the course of eight workshops at Trimpin’s studio.
During these workshops, we created found poetry – I had never
done anything quite like that before. I took a story that I had already written
called, “The Woman on the Sidewalk,” and pulled words from that story to create
new poems for the sculpture. A year later, I was invited to record work for
Path with Art at Jack Straw Cultural Center.
What is the significance of the wagon wheel as a foundation
for the sculpture? How does it relate to experiences of homelessness?
When I was beginning to conceptualize the interdisciplinary workshop, mobility
and transition was a major consideration. Aware that most homeless people are
in continual transition, the wagon-wheel was a starting platform to build up
the story, not just metaphorically, but literally as a sound object which is
mobile. It is similar to the way the wagon was used in my family to haul a
variety of items around, and I still remember watching my father when he was
building the wagon from scratch.
How did the artists collaborate on the creation of the final
Tyler: The first group to meet was our group—the poets. The visual artists then took the found poems we created, turning these magnificent words into different pieces of art. Then the musicians came and made compositions inspired by the language and the artwork.
Hear & Now allowed many people to contribute their skills to this larger
project. The people who were involved all have different ways of expressing
themselves. Through this project, their voices are heard, and they are able to
speak from their soul through their medium. Without this
opportunity, they might feel silenced—without a voice, or without their voices
Can you share a moment of discovery or breakthrough in the
process that left an impression on you? Why did that moment stand out to you?
Artists in general are not collaborating with other artists very often. A part
of the workshop was to teach each student that we don’t have to compete with
each other; and we actually can work together and contribute each individual’s
expertise to make the project successful. This process was very important to me
and the project would not exist without the great commitment and interaction of
each individual student.
Tyler: I don’t like hearing my own voice. When we were recording our stories at Jack Straw I could feel my heart racing because it’s a voice that my mother created by teaching us to speak a certain way. I could hear the –eds and the –ings. Those were important in my household growing up.
When I was forced that day to listen to my voice I cried inside
because I realized—my voice is beautiful. And had I known that it was
beautiful, I would have listened all along. And now when I ask people, what
is it about my stories or poetry that you like? They tell me, it’s your voice.
What do you hope the sculpture can inspire in a viewer?
My hope is that the viewer can hear and see that a group of Path with Art
student artists—adults—who have lived the experience of homelessness, addiction
or other trauma, have earned the ability, knowledge, and imagination to
collaborate, design, write, and compose and to achieve a project at this high
Tyler: I hope that Hear & Now will bring awareness of people who have lived experience of homelessness. That the person living that experience could be you. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be prejudiced, or disown others as though they don’t exist.
And I think by having a sculpture that shares these wonderful
voices, not only are you hearing their voices, but your hearing that they’re a
person. The voice you hear is coming from them, from their humanity.
How does the upcoming performance connect to the sculpture?
For the upcoming performance, the students are performing live, interacting
with the instrumentation of the wagon with their own voice or instrument.
Tyler: It ties together these themes of voicelessness and visibility for those experiencing homelessness. It connects to the sculpture because it’s using American Sign Language to present stories for those who cannot hear or speak, and ties in this concept communicating in different ways—with our voices, but also with our hands. This whole project is about lifting up those who have so often been silenced, and widening our circles of empathy and understanding, and the performance brings together both people with lived experience, and those without while exploring these themes.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM Content Strategist & Social Media Manager
Images: Installation view Hear & Now at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photos: Natali Wiseman.
Path with Art would like to extend a special thank you to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods for making this project possible.
“They always say ‘this is so great’ or ‘this is so wonderful,’” Johnson
shared. “The first couple times it happened I said ‘you haven’t seen anything
yet.’ They say ‘no, this is here.’ It’s just something about being able to walk
into a space and know that it’s a cultural center for Black people that feels
embodied as soon as you go through the entryway.”
“For many reasons,
protest is a logical direction for art right now. There is still no federal law
prohibiting discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q.+ people on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity (although some states and cities have enacted
laws prohibiting it). Trans women continue to be victims of violence. The rate
of new H.I.V./AIDS transmission among gay black men remains high. And
the impulse within the gay mainstream to accommodate and assimilate is by now
deeply ingrained. The time has come to hear Sylvia Rivera calling us out
As a person who has taken IKEA desks and Christmas trees on Seattle buses, I am here for this.
“But there is nothing supernatural or sacred here. We have the deepest
feelings for light because it powers the processes that result in the wine we
drink, the books we read, the park-bench kisses we enjoy all through the
“Chicago is a city
full of hope about shifting histories and moving toward equity, and the fact
that the new mayor wanted a work of art about that says a lot,” Gass added. “We
believe in the power of art to help shift perspectives, and hopefully the map
in the office will help do that.”
Heads-up, parents and caregivers: summer in Seattle is upon us! Here’s Elisa Murray for the Seattle Times with great ideas to keep the learning going and keep the fun going while school’s out. She includes Summer at SAM, our annual series of free programming at the Olympic Sculpture Park, held this year July 11 through August 22.
“It might seem too-little-too-late to argue for sublime beauty in the
face of urgent statistics about habitat loss, mass extinctions, droughts,
wildfires and coastal erosion. But the introspective state that art is so adept
at conjuring might be the only angle from which our modern brains can process
and address the monumental facts.”
to I.M. Pei, the
Pritzker Prize-winning architect who passed away at the age of 102. He designed
the glass pyramid entrance of the Louvre in Paris and the East Building of the
National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
SAM is now
recruiting new docents to start training for the reopening of the Seattle Asian
Art Museum. You don’t need to be an art historian or a teacher to apply! In
fact, SAM docents have a variety of interests and experiences. Having a diverse
group of docents is how we’re able to offer tours that are engaging to all
visitors. Read below and find out more about docents like Erin Bruce who
volunteer their time at the museum.
SAM: Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to
become a docent?
Erin Bruce: I have always been inspired by all things visual,
whether it is nature, a building, a room and especially art. I studied art in
college and made art whenever possible. Now I am a technical stock trader and
rely on charts for my work—more visual interpretation! It was a three-year wait
for a new docent class to start for me after a friend told me about SAM. The
chance to participate with our museum is an honor.
What’s the best part about being a docent?
The best part
is all of it: meeting energetic, generous, knowledgeable people; constant
learning; leading a tour of young people and engaging them in the art and
history of objects. It’s all gratifying. SAM’s collections are a wondrous gift
to our city and special exhibitions join and expand experiences as well.
What is your favorite work of art to tour at the
Asian Art Museum?
The Deer Scroll. Calligrapher Koetsu and
painter Sotatsu collaborated to create this iconic masterpiece. Our 30 feet of
the original 72 feet contains 12 poems from the Shin Kokinshu, which took four years to write. The beauty and
harmony transports you to another time and place.
What’s your most memorable touring experience?
scheduled the week before Mother’s Day so I made a gallery activity “A Gift for
Mom.” Given one exhibition room students got to pick an object that they would
give to their Mom if they could. It revealed so many wonderful things such as
what objects in our Asian art collection young people were most drawn to, what
they found beautiful and why. Crafting future tours improved since I had
learned some of their favorite objects. The chance to interact with young
people is yet another joy and benefit of leading a school tour.
What advice do you have for people applying for the
and life experiences offer wonderful and unique perspectives. You will discover
and explore the vast and layered connections of art to our lives. It is so much
“It’s impossible to read the whole story just standing there (though do
try, if you wish). But stepping back, you get a sense of the artist’s ambition
and vision, his diligence in exploring the dark recesses of his visual
“I found that in making plays, I get to make community and it can be
different kinds of community. But that’s the thing ultimately, to get people to
talk about important and difficult issues, by entertaining them and then
Western, religious, literary and cultural, and that’s what makes it different
from any other object. It’s the whole spectrum from the trivial to the
transcendent, the sacred to the profane.”
“You may notice the
exquisite, painstaking craftsmanship first, or you may notice that many of the
bags now look like they’re wearing skirts.”
Conservator Nicholas Dorman spoke with Hyperallergic’s Kealey Boyd for this
story on the
need for specialized conservators of East Asian art; SAM’s
forthcoming Asian Paintings Conservation Center will treat works from its
collection and serve other institutions as well.
Our pets are obviously the best. The Stranger’s Jasmyne Keimig talks with
several local pet portraitists—including Rebecca Luncan, a preparator and mountmaker
preserve their goodness for all time.
“It’s a funny idea that even in 2019, this medium of representation, of
memory, of love is something that people still seek out. That with our
smartphones and our ability to capture every aspect of our lives, people still
go out of their way to commission portraits of their animal friends.”
thing that we have not accomplished is to have an aligned indigenous
perspective, scholarly and curatorial, with the project,” he said. “And I think
that ultimately for us has been the crucial realization that our ability to
reflect back what we were learning needed to be done in multiple voices, not
just our voice.”
The King Street project, from rumor to reality, was a team effort between the city and its arts community. “I’ve been using a coral-reef metaphor,” Engstrom said. “We all put this thing here, like a reef. Now we’ll see what will come and go, what will make a home here and how it will change.”
But let it not be said that Hudson Yards does not promote the arts. It will be centered around “The Vessel”, a 15-story high answer to the question: “How much money could a rich man waste building a climbable version of an MC Escher drawing?” (The answer is $200m.)
Read all about Trang Tran’s experience at SAM as our 2018 Emerging Arts Intern. The Emerging Arts Internship at SAM grew out of SAM’s equity goal and became a paid 10-week position at the museum designed to provide emerging arts leaders from diverse backgrounds with an in-depth understanding of SAM’s operations, programming and audiences. We’re searching for our next Emerging Arts Intern! Does this sound like you? Applications are due April 1!
When I was asked to write a wrap-up blog about my experiences as an Emerging Arts Leader intern at the Seattle Art Museum, I asked myself, “Jeez, where do I even begin?” There are so many experiences, memories, and relationships that I have built at this museum, a place I now consider a second home, that it’s hard to summarize my journey in a paragraph or two.
As I was walking toward the museum on my first day of the internship, the word “anxious” wouldn’t have entirely encapsulated my emotions. I was also thrilled, grateful, and honored to be working at one of the best art institutions on the West coast. My first week flew by as I met staff members who were inclusive, welcoming, supportive, and helpful as I tried to find my way around the maze of the administrative office. Over the next weeks, I began conducting informal interviews with staff members, working on projects with the curatorial, communication, and educational departments, and I ran around the museum trying to find meeting rooms but repeatedly ending up on the wrong floor (“M stands for Maloney”– David). I also toured the Olympic Sculpture Park (Thanks, Maggie!), made multiple trips to the galleries and library as I began research for my December My Favorite Things Tour, spiraled down the rabbit hole in art storage (Thanks, Carrie!), attempted to write a press release for an upcoming exhibition (Thanks, Rachel!), participated in many events hosted by the museum, and more!
One event I was especially honored to participate in was the Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodpur, India Community Opening Celebration. I had the opportunity to interact with the community by greeting them at the door and answering questions about the evening’s programs. Instead of running around the administrative office or staring at a computer screen, I was able to engage with the museum’s audience. It was amazing to witness the enthusiasm, anticipation, and joy radiating from everyone I met at the door. Even though I ended up losing my voice that night, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I was also fortunate to spend the day with my little brother, Kevin, at the Diwali Family Festival. Diwali, or the “festival of lights,” is one of the most important celebrations in India where people celebrate the triumph of good over evil. The museum’s annual Diwali Family Festival included a vibrant fashion show, numerous art activities, dance performances, live music, and tours of the special exhibition, Peacock in the Desert, as well as tours of SAM’s permanent collections and installations. By attending this event, I hoped to show my brother that art is not just about color pigments on a white canvas on the wall or a sculpture encased in glass that you forget about as soon as you walk away. Art has the effect of bringing people together. People of different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds come together to celebrate, learn about, and appreciate a culture. Art also has the power to encapsulate political struggles, social changes, cultural values, and art movements. These are the reasons why I love, and am passionate, about art. I hope that if I can help the youngest member of my family see how powerful art can be, maybe one day my parents, as well as the wider Asian-American community, will learn to accept and recognize the existence of the art world.
Throughout this 10-week interdisciplinary internship, I found myself learning about the numerous operations that keep the museum running on an everyday basis. Such operations range from researching artworks in the curatorial department to fundraising in the development department, from promotional strategies in the marketing department to writing press releases in the communication department, and from preserving artworks in the conservation department to engaging the public in the educational department. But if I were to selected one main lesson to take away after this internship, it would be that a museum is not just about the artworks in the gallery; it’s also about people coming together to successfully bring these artworks to the public. For an artwork to be displayed in the museum, for a sculpture to be standing in the gallery, or for an exhibition to be showcased for three months, it takes cooperation from every department in the museum. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has welcomed, accepted, supported, challenged, and encouraged me throughout this internship. Thank you for all the hard work that you are doing, not only for the world of art, but also for the public community.
– Trang Tran, SAM Emerging Arts Leader Intern 2018
If “legacy cultural organizations” want to grow their audiences, they need to adapt and transform to meet their needs. “If arts organizations can leverage that new understanding in a way authentic to them and on-mission and without abandoning their core purpose,” she says, “all audiences benefit.”
Join us for five talks by speakers who think about plants in Asia from different perspectives. First, on March 16, we’ll hear about penjing—the Chinese predecessor to bonsai—plus how and why a Southern Chinese style inspires contemporary bonsai artists across the world. Our speaker Aarin Packard, curator of the Pacific Bonsai Museum, explains how he first became interested in bonsai: “As a kid I was exposed to bonsai by my father and by Mr. Miyagi [from “The Karate Kid”).
Next, on March 30, Jerome Silbergeld will share his art historian’s perspective on Chinese gardens, and what they meant to their creators.
Clearly, bonsai and gardens are both art forms that are constantly changing. The series continues through April with talks on matsutake mushrooms, eucalyptus plantations, and botanical collecting in the mountains of Yunnan Province in Southwest China—one of the world’s richest places in biodiversity.
– Sarah Loudon,Director, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas
“Like a Hammer has a manyness, a simultaneous quality that instead of diffusing into some fractured postmodern identity coheres into something singular.” –Stefan Milne
“His practice is largely informed by the ‘in-betweenness’ of the fixed points of identity. And there it blossoms.” –Jasmyne Keimig
“The artist has created a kind of gumbo of new associations, igniting things as disparate as old song lyrics and ab-ex white-boy modernism and indigenous craft with the most vital and urgent of sensations.” –Casey Arguelles Gregory
Carrie Dedon, SAM’s Assistant Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, contributed her thoughts on painter Sam Gilliam to this Artsy editorial in honor of Black History Month looking at “The Most Influential Living African-American Artists.”
“Bright, vivid, frenetic hues take precedence above all in her paintings, the oiliness of the pastels are rich, creamy, and dirty. They give off their own heat, resembling the energy she puts into it. There’s no tedium to it nor perfection, just like her.”
The 75 participating artists in this year’s Whitney Biennial were announced this week; the list includes Jeffrey Gibson and Disguise artist Brendan Fernandes.
“To its curators, the 2019 biennial feels very much like a product of its time, with artists ‘grappling with questions about race, gender, financial inequality, gentrification, the vulnerability of the body,’ said Ms. Panetta. But she added that the work in the show mostly strikes a tone that’s less ‘agitprop-like or angry’ than one might expect in 2019. ‘It’s really work that feels more productive, forward looking, with a kind of optimistic and hopeful tenor to it.’”
“The resulting collection is a riot of color and texture that playfully draws the viewer into a world—the experience of another human being—impossible to ever fully know, but commanding one’s full consideration anyhow.”
Nancy Guppy included Like a Hammer and the community celebration on Thursday in this New Day NW segment highlighting local arts happenings.
Image: CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF YOU, 2015, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Cherokee, b. 1972, high fire glazed ceramic, repurposed tipi poles, wool, acrylic paint, wool blanket, glass beads, artificial sinew, copper jingles, and nylon fringe, 72 × 29 × 38 in., Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, photo: Peter Mauney.
Last week, SAM announced the launch of the public phase of a $150 million campaign to support all aspects of the museum’s mission. To date, the campaign has raised more than $125 million towards its goals. Artnet and Patch.com shared the news.
Bones! Feathers! Forklifts! Brendan Kiley of the Seattle Times gets a behind-the-scenes look as the team at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture move their collection into its new “inside-out” digs.
“The coolest thing I found? I don’t want to admit it,” he said. “Mostly evidence of my co-workers from decades ago—someone had been sitting at a desk, smoking while working on specimens, and used one of the shells for an ashtray! They should give it a label: ‘archaeological tool used by museum employee 30 years ago.’”
“Over the past 20 years, he and his wife have built one of the great American collections of contemporary art, and he has quietly become one of the art world’s most important power brokers, a singular advocate for artists in an industry that often exploits creativity for the sake of the bottom line.”
“Porcelain ‘is way more robust than you initially think it is,’ the artist said the other day at the museum. ‘You can drop it and it bounces.’ That elicited nervous laughter from the staff. But Partington’s genuine appreciation for the material is clear. Taking Tea activates the space in a way never done before.”
“Not knowing what these movies were ‘about’ didn’t mean it wasn’t clear what they were about. They symbolize a style of American storytelling in which the wheels of interracial friendship are greased by employment, in which prolonged exposure to the black half of the duo enhances the humanity of his white, frequently racist counterpart.”
“In the scratches, cracks, fingerprints, and delicate color shifts that surround and sometimes cover the sitters’ faces, we are looking at portraits of individuals through the unmistakable portal of time.”
Every year brings the creative process of local artists to the Olympic Sculpture Park through our artist-in-residence program, Art Encounters. This year Christine Babic (Chugach Alutiiq) is working away on SKIN SEWERS at the PACCAR Pavilion. Babic—in collaboration with her mother, artist Mary Babic (Chugach Alutiiq), and Alex Britt (Nansemond, White)—is combining performance and installation to create a site-specific experience that explores the gap between contemporary and traditional Indigenous works. Art Encounters are a chance to learn about the practice of making art while participating in experiences that respond to the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Seattle region. This year you can get involved by dropping into one or both of the Art Encounters on January 25 and February 22, from 7–9 pm.
SAM: I love this description of this as an intestinal window into a shared history. I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit upon on the connection to land, skin, and history in Skin Sewers.
Christine Babic: Since this residency is at the Olympic Sculpture Park, we wanted to talk about land and what land means for Indigenous people. Through SKIN SEWERS, we’re trying to get a sense of generational gaps and what the spectrum of generations think of land and its meaning. For both my mom and I, who are from Alaska, we’ve talked about subsistence as being the first thing that comes to mind when we think of land—the resources and gifts of the land.
Mary Babic: I was raised in Seattle. I really did not know what Alutiiq meant. I knew I was Alutiiq and I knew I was German. When I moved to Alaska in 1980 I realized I was immersed in Chugach Alutiiq culture. So, I wanted to learn everything I could about my background. I started sewing woods, firs, leathers, and started beading. Friends in the area shared a lot about utilizing the resources we had and living off the land. Not only would you use a seal for its meat (which is very high in iron), but you would also use every part of it. You wouldn’t waste anything. You were always grateful. You would always thank the animal for giving itself to you. That was one thing I learned right away about subsistence. So, I started sewing with the fur. I also learned how to clean the intestine and to blow it out and make things out of it.
Christine: It’s an interesting material because it’s a waterproof material, and it’s semi-opaque. And it has this simultaneous fragility and strength to it. You get it wet to sew with it and then it dries. It can be used as rain jackets. Seal intestine was also used for death masks. It was a kind of protection—a spiritual protection. Not only from the rain and weather but this spiritual protection that comes with using these materials. So, there’s a lot of dualities when using these materials. For us, it’s not only an experiment in Indigenous materials but also this spiritual connection to our culture. Doing these things that your ancestors did—these are Indigenous materials and we are Indigenous people. Only Indigenous people can source seal. They’re protected under the marine mammal protection. The materials used in SKIN SEWERS are synthetics, but we’re going off of tradition and what our ancestors used. When people are displaced from their land, there’s no access to the materials that we’ve always used. Practicing culture and making artwork is part of cultural evolution and is important to us as Native people—SKIN SEWERS is not an answer, this a conversation.
What kind of materials will be involved in this performance?
Christine: For this, we’re using a synthetic intestine which is collagen, pig intestines, and fish skin. So, inner skins and outer skins. Seal intestines is much harder to get. Something I’m addressing is the evolution of Indigenous material and how we use these things in place of seal gut. In my grandmother’s generation, there was a lot of Americanizing going on so she never wanted to be a Native. She wanted to be as assimilated as possible because there was so much racism happening. When my mother moved back to Alaska she was able to relearn our culture and reclaim these things and identities as Native. My mom raised me as a Native person so those ideas are what I’m referencing. I can carry my Native-ness with pride but there is a gap culturally for us, generationally, because my grandmother did not have that option. Through these materials, there’s a lot of acknowledgment happening.
You’ve mentioned learning traditional sewing techniques from your mom. Have you two collaborated creatively before? What does your collaboration looks like?
Christine: Always. In every show, my mom helped. This is probably our first official collaboration. My mom is inspired by tradition, so she’s really obsessed with researching how our ancestors used to do things. I really like performance art and contemporary art. Bringing parts of what my mother taught me into a contemporary context and working together allows me to make performances out of things that you may not necessarily think are performances, like sewing. This lets us look at them in a different lens—that’s interesting for me.
Mary: You definitely take me out of my comfort zone. I do tend to be more traditional in my artwork and I have been working on a curriculum for Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation that teaches about traditional artwork and how to make clothing. I’m working on that project right now. Working a little more contemporary with the material has definitely opened my eyes. The fish skin that we have in the show, we made a non-traditional and traditional tan. We’ve used brains from the deer and some of that is in the window that we have on display. We also did a non-traditional tent which was using glycerin and rubbing alcohol and that I have a video on that I hope to show during the presentation as well.
Have you collaborated with Alex Britt before?
Christine: No, but I really am a fan of their work. They’re very image-based and a photographer. I always liked how they explained their relationship to the body and land. Bringing in different Indigenous perspectives is important to SKIN SEWERS. Obviously, there is such a wide spectrum. Alex’s photos will be a part of the installation. So, I think it will just kind of show the distances and the different ways we think about land and Native perspectives.
When people come to your Art Encounter, what should they expect to experience?
Christine: This is an active installation, where people can move freely about and get close to the materials and watch how we work with the materials. You’ll get a sense of how our ancestors used and talked about these. We’ll also have texts about the duality of materials and how we want to continue to use them and bring these materials and traditions wherever we go and think about them as they evolve. We’re going to have a demonstration to inflate the pig intestine. This is similar to the way that ancestors used seal intestines—blowing them up, drying, and cutting them. The labor that goes into using them, how much time and care goes into the work—the performance parts of SKIN SEWERS are an act of care and respect for the material, the land, and our tradition. The process is valuable and beautiful, using these materials involves being meticulous, careful, and loving. We come from people who are sewers, who sew skins. SKIN SEWERS, as a project, is really to highlight how important the action is and not just the finished object. I wanted to show other people the performance through the physical actions and what that looks like.
For the third year of our winter Olympic Sculpture Park artist residency, we changed things up a bit. Unlike the last two years, this year’s artist was not selected through an open call, but selected in collaboration with yəhaw̓, an exhibition celebrating the depth and diversity of Indigenous art made in the Pacific Northwest. Curated by Tracy Rector, Asia Tail, and Satpreet Kahlon, yəhaw̓ opens at King Street Station March 23, 2019. You can see more of Christine Babic’s work when it opens! We’ll see you there.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, SAM Content Strategist and Social Media Manager
No matter where you’re from, SAM can become your local museum—take it from Abe and Julia. Hailing from Philly and Tennessee, their passion for Asian art got them involved with the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas when they relocated to the Seattle area. They have donated to support the renovation and expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and can’t wait for it to reopen later this year. Learn more about the exciting and expanded programming that the museum will be able to host thanks to the support of donors like these, and how it can connect your life to art!
The importance of Seattle Asian Art Museum to the cultural history of Seattle, really to the entire Pacific Rim, cannot be overstated. Julia and I were both active as board members with the Albuquerque Museum during our time in New Mexico. Julia grew up in Philadelphia and lived in New York City and museums were a large part of her daily activities as a child and also as an adult. I grew up in rural East Tennessee where there were no museums, so we’re both acutely aware of how much value art and cultural museums can add to a community. We just knew that, on moving to Seattle, we would both get involved. After her career as an attorney in New York, Julia obtained an MFA in art history from the University of New Mexico. We’re both students of the Chinese language, which provided our initial draw to the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The highlight of my experience with the museum would have to be the privilege of volunteering with Sarah Loudon at the Gardner Center. Both Julia and I are both quite excited about the reopening of in late 2019.
Image: AMERICAN HISTORY (JB), 2015, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Cherokee, b. 1972, wool, steel studs, glass beads, artificial sinew, metal jingles, acrylic yarn, nylon fringe, and canvas, 89 × 66 × 5 in., Lent by the Lewis Family, image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, photo: Peter Mauney.
SAM and the Nordic Museum continue our centennial celebration of Swedish writer-director Ingmar Bergman, who explores deep existential questions, and reveals the abiding mystery and beauty of life. All the films were photographed by Oscar-winner Sven Nykvist. Films in Swedish with English subtitles. Get your tickets to the series today!
Jan 10:Sawdust and Tinsel/The Naked Night (1953)
Things get complicated when a circus owner (Ake Gronberg) and his mistress (Harriet Andersson) visit the town where the wife and children Gronberg abandoned still live. Bergman felt that Andersson “radiated more erotic charm than any other actress.” Digital restoration, 93 min.
Jan 17: Winter Light (1961)
A village pastor (Gunnar Bjornstrand) brings little comfort to his mistress (Ingrid Thulin), a widow (Gunnel Lindblom) and a fisherman (the majestic Max Von Sydow) afraid of nuclear annihilation. Perhaps learning to truly give of himself can make true, communal consolation possible. Digital restoration, 81 min.
Jan 24: Hour of the Wolf (1966)
When artist Max Von Sydow has a bad dream he sketches it on his pad, and the demons of his art gradually become real for both he and his wife (Liv Ullmann). They confront the shadow side of life, and art, at a dinner party at a lonely castle, where Von Sydow’s “dead” former mistress (Ingrid Thulin) is in attendance. Digital restoration, 93 min.
Jan 31: Shame (1967)
What would you do if the comforts, and protections, of civilization, were gone? In an unnamed country, a civil war rages, and concert musicians Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann flee to a peaceful island. Ironically, they still have to fight for what they believe in and wrestle with the hard truths of their marriage. With Gunnar Bjornstrand. Digital restoration, 103 min.
Feb 7: The Passion of Anna (1968)
A chance encounter with a beautiful woman (Liv Ullmann) embroils him in the personal dramas of her, an architect (Erland Josephson), and his wife (Bibi Andersson). Von Sydow knows it can be dangerous to get involved with others, but how can he resist? As mysteries of tangled emotions and wicked actions proliferate, Ullmann dreams of “Living in the truth.” Digital restoration, 101 min.
Feb 14: Cries and Whispers (1971)
In a mansion in a park, two women (chilly Ingrid Thulin, earthy Liv Ullmann) are comforting their dying sister (Harriett Andersson), who is anticipating her “new voyage.” Mysteries of eroticism, personal and family pain, and tension are in the air, but, as critic David Thomson says, “It evokes a sense of a time when three sisters were as one in a summer of joy.” In 35mm, 91 min.
Feb 21: The Magic Flute (1974)
Aglow with light, love, humor, and Mozart’s sublime music, this operatic masterpiece tells the enchanting tale of friends Tamino (Josef Kostlinger) and Papagano (Hakan Hagegard) who try to rescue Pamina (Irma Urrila) from the evil enchanter Sarastro (Urik Cold). Will we see a dragon in a Bergman film? Yes! In 35mm, 135 min.
Mar 7: Autumn Sonata (1977)
A renowned pianist (Ingrid Bergman) comes to visit her estranged daughter (Liv Ullmann), the wife of a humble country parson (Halvar Bjork). Bergman has put her art and career above her child, and in their mesmerizing late night talk, resentments and humiliations, as well as the hope for love and forgiveness, come pouring out. In 35mm, 93 min.
Mar 14: Fanny and Alexander (1982)
This festive, warm-hearted celebration of the joys and dramas of family life centers on a large 1907 family that runs a repertory theater. The film is vibrant with Bergman’s great life lesson that imagination and performance can restore balance and hope, and it conjures the wonder of everyday life. As Bergman says, “I moved in complete freedom between magic and oatmeal porridge.” With Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Harriet Andersson, and members of Ingmar Bergman’s family. In 35mm, 188 min.