SAM Celebrates Pride: Between Rabbit and Fox

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

Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972) foregrounds his Indigenous, queer identity in his artwork, often with bold colors and materials that make his personal history and intentions undeniable. As Gibson has noted in many of his interviews, he celebrates a state of “in-between-ness”: between cultures, between aesthetics, and between normative gender expectations.1

Gibson is also in-between in a few places at SAM—Gibson’s 2017 work, Between Rabbit and Fox, is on view on the third floor, in the space between the modern and contemporary galleries and American Art: The Stories We Carry. 

This large abstract painting on canvas depicts a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, refracted in a vibrant pattern. Although at first the painting seems like a smooth solid surface, its raised lines cut through different shapes and shimmery paints in the center to reveal the texture of the canvas. Looking closely, every diagonal is intentional, forming more and more triangles, and they create the effect of overlapping pieces and colors that change as they are layered.

As a painter, Gibson draws upon the major art historical movements of modernism and abstraction that explored minimalism and color theory, including the work of Josef Albers, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Al Held, and Barnett Newman, all of whose works are in SAM’s collection.

Yet abstraction has long been a part of Native American artistic traditions as well, adorning many types of functional and cultural objects, such as Navajo textiles and Osage ribbonwork.2 Between Rabbit and Fox also references Gibson’s own earlier abstract paintings on hide, where he directly connected abstraction to Indigenous history by painting upon this culturally significant material. In the same room as Between Rabbit and Fox, you can see contemporary Tlingit/Unangax artist Nicholas Galanin’s work on deer hide, Architecture of return, escape (The British Museum) (2022).

Gibson grew up in Germany and South Korea, among other places with his father’s military assignments, but came back to the US to attend the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, for his BFA, and then the Royal College of Art, London for his MA in painting. While growing up abroad, he felt he was treated as an “American,” but back at home in the US, he was seen only as Native American.3

Gibson is of Choctaw and Cherokee lineage, but didn’t grow up on a reservation. Many Americans he encountered had assumptions about a monolithic Native American culture and artistic aesthetic. Facing these reductive stereotypes, Gibson felt limited by this necessity to explain Native American art and concepts to an unaware audience, but also wanted to make work that reflected his identity. He found there was even less acceptance for a queer Indigenous man and artist.4

Instead of trying to avoid representing these identities in his art, Gibson came to a realization that he needed to incorporate them all and create a new path for himself in the art world. Around 2011, Gibson began reaching out to other Native American communities to learn about and collaborate on artworks that involved beadwork and drum making.5 He chose to use these techniques and make works on animal hide rather than on canvas, and he incorporated text and pop culture references to make his messages more visible.

Gibson’s work often addresses US history and the government’s failings toward Native Americans as well as queer communities. His other work in SAM’s collection, IF I RULED THE WORLD (2018), is a repurposed punching bag covered with beading, fringe, and metal jingles, and embedded with the title of a song by the rapper Nas. Here, Gibson also uses abstract geometric decoration with bands of primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) interrupted by black triangles.

The punching bag evokes physical action and even a sense of violent masculinity, which is immediately undercut by the delicate and detailed ornamentation that Gibson applies. He questions gender identity by using techniques like beading that are associated with women makers, as well as integrating quotes from queer club and music scenes and performing in gender-bending costumes he designs. Combining popular culture, canonical art influences, and Indigenous art forms and materials, Gibson has forged a new way forward that combines his identities with activism. The Seattle Art Museum exhibited a survey show of Gibson’s work in 2018, LIKE A HAMMER, and this year, Gibson was selected to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, one of the largest and oldest international art fairs. Gibson’s presentation, the space in which to place me, was the first solo show by a Native American artist at the prestigious event. With this platform, Gibson has brought his queer, Indigenous identity to the forefront, raising issues and history that his communities and all of us have to face in making a more just world.

– Nicole Block, SAM Collections Associate

1  “Innovation and Tradition: Jeffrey Gibson Interviewed by Emily Zimmerman,” Bomb Magazine, May 6, 2019, https://bombmagazine.org/articles/innovation-and-tradition-jeffrey-gibson-interviewed.
2 John P. Lukavic, “What Should Have Been, What Is, and What Will Be,” Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer. Munich, London, New York: Denver Art Museum, with DelMonico Books/Prestel, 2019; p. 29.
3 David Pagel, “Jeffrey Gibson: American. Native American. Gay. An artist’s life outside labels,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2017, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-jeffrey-gibson-20171007-htmlstory.html.
4 “Material & Identity Merge in Jeffrey Gibson’s ‘Like A Hammer’ at Seattle Art Museum.” YouTube January 31, 2019. https://youtu.be/-RrqDSZKtLQ?si=1NN66Iigx6HO0685.
5 Anne Ellegood. “Jeffrey Gibson: Critical Exuberance,” Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer. Munich, London, New York: Denver Art Museum, with DelMonico Books/Prestel, 2019; pp. 83-84.


Celebrate Pride Month in Seattle with these suggested events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Natali Wiseman.

TAG Talks: Disco, Dancing, and Bringing the Magic of Teen Night Out to Life

SAM’s Teen Arts Group (TAG) is an intensive internship program for high school-aged youth who are eager to learn about themselves and the world through art, and are excited to make SAM a fun and engaging space for teens. TAG members meet weekly from October to May to learn about the behind-the-scenes work of an art museum, lead engaging gallery tours, plan Teen Night Out, and so much more. TAG Talks is an ongoing SAM Blog series on SAM Blog that serves as a space for SAM’s teen leaders to express themselves and their love of art. Keep up with all TAG adventures by following @samteens on Instagram and stay tuned for more TAG Talks to come!

It’s a Friday night, and you’re bored out of your mind. The usual hangouts lack the frenzy, and your phone is out of new trends to show you. But wait! You suddenly remembered your friend telling you about the annual Teen Night Out at the Seattle Art Museum.

I joined SAM’s Teen Arts Group (TAG) in October 2023. Walking into my first meeting, it was already known that our adventures at SAM would culminate with Teen Night Out, just like every year. Seeing the excitement and anticipation that consumed last year’s attendees put pressure on us to plan and execute another engaging and fun event for Seattle’s teens. This being my first year in TAG, I wanted Teen Night Out 2024 to be memorable.

When it came to deciding the theme and decorations for the event, it was truly inspiring to hear the ideas of other TAG members. They demonstrated an immense passion for art, and shared their hopes for the museum. Theme ideas ranged from ballgowns, disco, glam rock, and nature. Until, finally, we hit Junkyard Disco. We all had ideas in mind that basically described vintage 70s fashion with a touch of sustainability. With a disco ball too, of course!

Leading up to the day of the event, TAG meetings covered creating decorations for the museum, whilst also leaving time for fun, practicing art with teaching artists. The decorations were my favorite part. Some of the decorations I made ranged from giant cardboard disco balls to a huge “SAM Records” music disk. Oh! And we can’t forget the giant van paper frame that was used as part of the event’s photobooth. During this time of cramming to finish creating decorations and planning, the best part of it all was bonding with other TAG members. Creating new decorations with the help of others while also complimenting and discussing posters made by others was truly the highlight of the process for me.

The minutes leading up to Teen Night Out were full of moving heavy packages of sparkling water and sneaking in some snacks along the way. Every TAG member had amazing, lavish disco outfits that truly matched the theme of the evening. What excited me most, however, was the sheer amount of disco balls, something I could’ve only dreamed of! Mere seconds before the doors opened, I created my own disco ball headband with the support of the tiny disco balls that filled countless buckets along the entrance of the museum. At exactly 7 pm, teens rushed in after the conclusion of the award ceremony of Seattle Public Schools’ Naramore Art Show on the museum’s lower level. I remember teens instantly running to the junkyard area we had in the front of the museum, taking all the tiny and large objects that soon transformed into original breathtaking creations.

Teen Night Out was a blur, but in the best way possible.

I remember creating many headbands and little gadgets that soon found a place on my bedroom bookshelf. In the middle of Teen Night Out, my friends and fellow TAG members Hamda and Samira alerted me to our new TAG audio guide, finally installed in American Art: The Stories We Carry. I remember jumping with joy after seeing our hard work in its full and final form for museum visitors to see and interact with for years to come.

To end off the night, students of the School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (SANCA) gave an amazing performance, entirely powered by youth! It was refreshing to see an organization that willingly grants youth the power to form their own decisions, something I admire about SAM as well.

Looking back, Teen Night Out felt like a huge hangout for teens with different backgrounds, but all united through art. Art possesses a healing power that has followed me throughout my life, and it’s truly rewarding to see other teens express themselves through various artistic means. To all teens, Teen Night Out is one night a year, but may very well be the best night of your entire year. You are guaranteed to make friends, have fun, make some great art, and find yourself along the way!

– Ivy Liu (she/her), 15, First-Year Teen Arts Group Leader

Photos: Chloe Collyer & Cristina Cano-Calhoun.

Connecting Art to Life in Every Way: Accessibility Updates from SAM

“This bronze sculpture of a seaweed stalk sits on a freestanding pedestal a few feet off the ground. The overall shape is abstracted, made of rounded, wavy, leaf-like shapes. The surface color is a dark, chocolatey brown that blends with lighter patches of deep caramel. As you move around the sculpture, the color shifts as light reflects off the patina from different angles.”

This is an excerpt from the verbal description for the collection work Mo (Seaweed) (1977) by George Tsutakawa. These detailed audio explanations bring artworks to life for visitors with low or no vision and are available for smartphones via QR codes.

With the guidance of an accessibility trainer and contributions from community members—including SAM Visitor Experience Representative Derek Bourcier and former SAM docent Donnie Wilburn—we’ve revamped our production of verbal descriptions. In addition to creating them for many artworks in special exhibitions, such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map and Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection, we are also working to create them for collection galleries such as American Art: The Stories We Carry at the Seattle Art Museum and Boundless: Stories of Asian Art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

“We want our verbal descriptions to meet the needs of the people they’re serving,” says Ramzy Lakos, SAM Museum Educator for Digital Learning, who leads their development. “The goal is to have one for every artwork on view. We get a little closer to achieving that every year.”

In addition to verbal descriptions, the museum offers large-print copies of the object labels for select exhibitions as well as transcripts of all smartphone tours. SAM also offers ASL interpretation upon request. At Coat Check, visitors can borrow baby carriers and strollers, canes, stools, wheelchairs, disposable magnifying glasses, earplugs, large-print maps, colorblind glasses, a text telephone device, and Android phones with headphones for accessing online audio tours and descriptions.

“It’s all about progress,” says SAM Visitor Experience Manager Chelsea Leingang. “It’s about acknowledging that SAM can do better and actively working to make the artwork in our galleries more accessible to visitors.”

Check out visitsam.org/accessibility or call us at 206.654.3210 for more information about our accessibility options, to request accommodations, or obtain a large-print version of SAM magazine.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

This article first appeared in the February through May 2024 edition of SAM Magazine and has been edited for our online readers. Become a SAM member today to receive our quarterly magazine delivered directly to your mailbox and other exclusive member perks!

Photos: Alborz Kamalizad.

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

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

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


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

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

Gwendolyn Knight, 1934–35
Augusta Savage

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

Wounded Eagle No. 10, 1963
James Washington Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

– Nicole Block, SAM Collections Associate

Celebrate Black History Month in Seattle with these suggested events. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muse/News: Ali’s Debut, New in Old, and Cornell Gifts

SAM News

Anida Yoeu Ali: Hybrid Skin, Mythical Presence has made its dramatic debut at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Jim Dever of KING5 Evening shares this story: “Tacoma artist Anida Yoeu Ali transforms herself to transform others.” Mike Davis of KUOW includes the show in his “list of new art exhibits challenges and inspires.” The exhibition was recommended in a recent Stranger Suggests and in this fun video by The Ticket. And Craig Sailor reviews the show for The News Tribune and its South Sound readers: “Tacoma artist with reputation as global agitator now has solo show at Seattle Art Museum.”

“‘I’m constantly fluctuating between the insider/outsider perspective at any one point,’ she explained Tuesday during a press preview of the show. ‘I’m never quite the person that people expect me to be, whether that’s a local or a foreigner, an insider to a culture, or an outsider, whether I’m here or there.’”

Conde Nast Traveler includes the Seattle Art Museum on its list of “The 16 Best Things to Do in Seattle,” calling out the “well-curated” exhibitions throughout the space.

Speaking of SAM’s collections galleries: American Art: The Stories We Carry was referenced in Artsy’s feature, “15 Leading Curators Predict the Defining Art Trends of 2024.” Marina Isgro of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden name-checked SAM’s 2022 reinstallation of its American art galleries as a trendsetter for other institutions.

Local News

Charles R. Cross offers this remembrance of a Seattle legend: “Susie Tennant, early champion of Nirvana and other bands, dies at 61.”

Get ready for “10 must-see Seattle art shows in February 2024” recommended by the Seattle Times’ Margo Vansynghel.

Brangien Davis’s recent ArtSEA post highlights creative organizations that creatively repurpose old spaces.

“Alongside the city’s constant expansion, arts venues tend to be in flux, always coming and going. Many take a hermit crab approach, making homes in old buildings that lost their original purpose amid the changing times.”

Inter/National News

“A Fire at a Seattle Gallery Destroys Works By Picasso, Rembrandt, and Goya”: A fire at Davidson Galleries made national news, including this from Artnet’s Adam Schrader.

The Olympic Sculpture Park is nominated for Best Sculpture Park in USA Today 10Best’s annual readers’ choice awards. Public voting takes place now until February 19. Maybe you’d like to make your voice heard?

Via Deborah Solomon of the New York Times: “National Gallery of Art Receives Major Gift of Joseph Cornell Boxes.”

“…Cornell seems perfect for the nation’s capital because his story is so archetypally American. He was obstinate, cranky and consumed with the beauty of common objects; he persisted with his art in the face of enormous loneliness. Living with his mother and his disabled brother, he found his inspiration in the work of other artists and dedicated his boxes to figures ranging from the composer Franz Schubert to the poet Emily Dickinson to the television actress Patty Duke.”

And Finally

Art But Make It Sports never misses.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: L. Fried.

The Multitudes of Museum Work: Emerging Arts Leader Aranya Kitnikone Reflects

“What do you want to be when you’re older?” Time and time again, I’ve asked myself this question.

From a young age, I developed an affinity towards the arts from my older sister, who was an artist. As my role model, they influenced my passion and professional interest for the arts. However, as a first-generation Asian American, I’ve often had to confront the stigma that comes with pursuing a career in the arts and humanities over a more ‘lucrative’ or stable field like medicine or business. In my own family, this sentiment proved especially true; it was considered a waste of time to study the arts. This mindset naturally impacted the decisions I made regarding my own future.

While I love making art and consider myself a passionate and creative person, the negative opinion of my family and colleagues pushed me away from pursuing a career arts. In entering college, I decided to pursue Human Resources and Education (the idea of working adjacent to art had never really crossed my mind). It was only when I discovered an internship in the Seattle Art Museum’s Human Resources department that my passion for creative work was reignited. It served as an opportunity to combine my desire to work in the arts with my desire to pursue a broader career that might be seen as more ‘stable’ to my family (and admittedly, myself).

At SAM, I was encouraged to connect with other creatives to find out what goes on behind the scenes at an arts institution. I was able to schedule one-on-one meetings with staff across different departments of the museum, connect with other interns, and learn more about what museum work really is. I was most excited to meet the people behind the execution of the galleries and to see exhibitions go from the planning stage to the presentation stage. I especially want to highlight my meeting with Jenni Beetem, a fellow Emerging Arts Leaders in conservation, in which I learned about the preservation of yak milk from the Mongol Empire and the fundamentals of art conservation.

Working alongside the Human Resources team was also an invaluable experience. Ellie Vazquez, SAM Human Resources Specialist and my program supervisor, helped me to better understand what equity looks like in a museum setting and how it is practiced throughout recruitment and hiring processes. Throughout my project work, I was able to observe the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices currently in place at SAM, and was tasked with co-editing our Equitable Hiring Guide and hosting a gallery tour of American Art: The Stories We Carry that highlighted the topics of HR and DEI. In that tour, I spoke of how DEI and collaboration have shaped gallery spaces at SAM and beyond, as well as the importance of reflecting the diversity of local communities within museum staff and projects.

In my role as an Emerging Arts Leader Intern in Human Resources, I created training videos and resources for SAM’s internal staff. Sitting in on staff meetings and having one-on-ones with my supervisor helped me gain a greater understanding of what I wanted my role in (or out of) HR to be. As I performed research on staff benefits—which, admittedly, wasn’t the most exciting aspect of my role—I enjoyed knowing that I could assist someone to understand their workplace better. So, while Human Resources did not start off as a passion, I did find joy in the principles, the learning opportunities, and especially the collaboration and connection fostered in this space. While my work may not have been directly involved in the operations of the public-facing museum space, the opportunity to connect with others behind the scenes will always be a highlight for me.

My time at SAM has been a transformative experience. I have met people from all different walks of life and have been fortunate enough to see the passion that goes into running this museum firsthand. When I first came to SAM, I held all sorts of preconceived notions on what it would be like to work in a museum. In my mind, a degree of privilege and higher education was needed to work in an institution such as this and I thought myself to be a terribly under qualified outsider. The Emerging Arts Leader program does an amazing job of combating these notions, allowing those from different walks of life to participate in, and contribute to, museum spaces. It has given me a greater understanding and respect for these institutions especially as SAM continues to grow and reflect the values of Seattle’s ever-evolving community. In leaving SAM, it’s clear that this institution is the product of a community-wide effort from the visitors, the volunteers, and the staff. Being here has allowed me to shift my idea of museums from being an institution of privilege to a space made for communities.

Finally, I would like to thank the specific individuals who helped me during my time here. I would like to thank my supervisor, Ellie, for all her support and guidance. I would like to thank the rest of our Human Resources team, Kathleen Maki and Andrew Young, and especially our internship coordinator, Sam Howes, for facilitating the internship process and creating a support system for us. I would also like to thank my fellow interns Elizabeth Xiong, Teagan Nathe, Jenni Beetem, Zak Sadak, Rebecca Wong, and Jo Cosme—this experience has been an unforgettable one especially because of the other amazing interns I have met during my time here. While I am now at the end of my time here as an intern, it in no way means the end of my relationship with SAM and its community.

– Aranya Kitnikone, SAM Emerging Arts Leader in Human Resources

Photos: Alborz Kamalizad & Sam Howes.

Muse/News: Membership Musts, Kucera’s 40th, and Hendricks at the Frick

SAM News

Seattle Times readers just GET it (especially Cynthia Ryan). Sarah-Mae McCullough gathered their recommendations for what new arrivals to the city really need and waterproof gear and access to our cultural offerings got top mentions.

“Take this example from Cynthia Ryan. ‘When I moved here, my boss gave me a 1-year membership to the Seattle Art Museum and an enormous umbrella,’ Ryan said. ‘I gave the umbrella away early on but buy my own membership now. I think of it as a present to myself.’”

“Why Seattle Is One Of The Best Cities For A Fall Weekend Getaway”: Katie Chang for Forbes highlights the city’s offerings for local and visitors alike, including the Seattle Art Museum—with a special callout to American Art: The Stories We Carry—and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. 

Local News

Crosscut’s Brangien Davis talks with Rafael Soldi about his new solo show at the Frye Art Museum. There’s an interview and a video.

Chase Hutchison of The Stranger on “Five Films You Need to See at Seattle Queer Film Festival.”

The Seattle Times’ Gemma Wilson on the new show at the Greg Kucera Gallery, which looks forward and back at their impressive roster of artists on the occasion of the gallery’s 40th anniversary

“‘Something Old, Something New’ elucidates not only the evolution of an artist’s career over time, it highlights the connective tissue between artist, gallery and arts community.”

Inter/National News

Sarah Cascone for Artnet catches you up on the four artists who are among the 20 winners of this year’s MacArthur “genius” fellowships, each receiving an $800,000 grant.

Via Francesca Aton for Art in America: “Women’s History Is at the Forefront of Judy Chicago’s Retrospective at the New Museum in New York.”

Natasha Seaman for Hyperallergic on the Frick’s exhibition of 14 Barkley L. Hendricks portraits.

“While the exhibition’s premise is to explore Hendricks’s connection to the art history embodied in the museum’s regular collection, its effect is to change the way we view those same paintings.”

And Finally

Meet a “queen that’s thicker than a bowl of oatmeal.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

Hispanic Heritage Month at SAM: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Alfredo Arreguín

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually between September 15 and October 15 in recognition of the contributions and influence of Hispanic and Latine Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. At SAM, we’re continuing our efforts to expand the representation of Latine American artists in our collection to reflect the diversity of this community in our region.

One recent acquisition we’re especially excited about is Four Self-Portraits (1995) by acclaimed Pacific Northwest Chicano artist Alfredo Arreguín. Purchased in 2022 as part of the reinstallation of our American art galleries, the painting features a tapestry of interlaced tropical flowers, birds, leaves, arabesques, and ancient symbols that camouflage four distinct portraits of Alfredo—two at the top and two more, mirrored, at the bottom—literally merging the artist with the places and cultures of his ancestry.

Before his passing in May 2023 at the age of 88, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Alfredo in his studio to discuss his self-portrait and incredible artistic career as part of our interactive Living Labels series in American Art: The Stories We Carry. Featuring dynamic voices—including artists, scholars, and community leaders—responding to artworks on view, these videos deepen visitor engagement by presenting accessible, personal, and expressive alternatives to standard museum texts. While this experience was previously only available via touch screens in our galleries, we can’t think of a better time to share Alfredo’s Living Label with the greater public.

Today, Alfredo is remembered for his astonishing signature style: exuberant, mosaic-inflected, all-over compositions comprised of motifs derived from the rainforests and Indigenous cultures of Mexico, the compositions of Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, and the nature and topography of the Pacific Northwest. Watch his Living Label above to learn more about Alfredo’s incredible life and career, and be sure to find his portrait in our galleries during your next visit to SAM.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photos: Alborz Kamalizad & Chloe Collyer. Four Self-Portraits, 1995, Alfredo Arreguin, Oil on canvas, Painting: 49 3/8 x 42 3/8 in. (125.4 x 107.6 cm) Frame: 55 x 43 in. (139.7 x 109.2 cm), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2022.13 (c) Alfredo Arreguin.

Muse/News: Provoking Prints, Artful Trash, and Untold Stories

SAM News

“Visually astounding, thought-provoking.” That’s Kai Curry for NW Asian Weekly reviewing Renegade Edo and Paris: Japanese Prints and Toulouse-Lautrec, now on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Get over to beautiful Volunteer Park to see these stunning prints!

And Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks is on view at the Seattle Art Museum through September 10. Check out recent mentions in Seattle Medium, Crosscut, and Seattle Met

Have you gotten your tickets to SAM Remix yet? It’s this Friday! It’s The Ticket’s top pick.

Local News

Via Paul de Barros of the Seattle Times: “Peek inside KNKX’s new Seattle home by Pike Place Market.”

The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald brings you scenes from Sea-Meow

“More art, less trash”: Crosscut’s Scarlet Hansen on Seattle ReCreative and other area “creative reuse” centers.

“Seattle ReCreative operates like a thrift store for art supplies. The nonprofit receives donations from fine-art supplies to plastic straws, cutlery and beaded necklaces, all of which would otherwise end up in landfills.”

Inter/National News

Barry Schwabsky for Art in America: “Francoise Gilot Was More Than Picasso’s Muse—She Lived Life on Her Own Terms.”

Roslyn Sulcas for the New York Times on Koyo Kouoh’s rejuvenation of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (known as Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town.

Via Artnet’s Sarah Cascone: Check out the National Mall’s first outdoor public art show of sculptures. We want to see Wendy Red Star’s! (Hot tip: Her work is now on view in American Art: The Stories We Carry at SAM.

“‘The mall remains a symbol of our Democratic ideals as a nation. Beyond Granite: Pulling Together does not shy away from those aspects in our history that can be very hurtful to Americans. We must tell those untold stories fiercely,’ Charles Sams, director of National Park Service, said at the exhibition’s unveiling. ‘We are only stronger by our diversity. Without it, ecosystems collapse.’”

And Finally

“How to Support Maui Fire Victims from Seattle.”

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

SAM Leadership Update: Thank You, Amada

With deep gratitude and sincere appreciation, we bid farewell to Amada Cruz, SAM Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director and CEO, after four years of leadership at the museum. 

Amada joined SAM in September 2019 and led the museum through what may be one of the most challenging periods in its 90 year history: the global COVID-19 pandemic and sudden closure of its three sites. Thanks to her tenacious leadership throughout this time the museum prioritized supporting its staff and created online experiences for the communities it serves to continue to engage with the museum. As the pandemic abated, her focus shifted to carefully reopen its sites to the public while maximizing the safety of both staff and visitors. SAM came through it stronger, with steady financial recovery, the return of audiences to its galleries and programs, and a renewed commitment to its mission to connect art to life.

Although the global pandemic was the undercurrent during much of Amada’s time at SAM, it did not define her tenure. During these unprecedented and complicated times, her achievements have been many. Under her leadership the museum ushered in many significant new initiatives and reached milestone moments including:  

  • In July 2020, the museum created a board-staff Equity Task Force to respond to the urgency of the moment and align around support for Black lives. This task force worked to establish a set of priorities across all departments and build a roadmap for the museum to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive museum. In 2021, that task force became a board committee to shepherd these ongoing efforts. 
  • In August 2020, SAM’s first-ever Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion was identified. This executive role shapes the museum’s priorities, partnerships, communications strategies, and audience-engagement efforts to move SAM towards a more equitable future. 
  • SAM’s acquisitions strategy brought in even more works by Black, Indigenous, and artists of color as well as women into its global collection.
  • The transformation of SAM’s American art galleries, funded primarily by a $1 million grant from The Mellon Foundation. An unprecedented collaboration among SAM curators and staff, artists, and advisors from the Seattle community, the project deepened the museum’s commitment to inclusive exhibition-planning practices and debuted as American Art: The Stories We Carry in October 2022.
  • Two major collections of modern art and supporting funds came to the museum, transforming its already stellar holdings of modern art:
    • The Friday Foundation, celebrating the legacy of Seattle philanthropists and collectors Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis, gave 19 iconic works of Abstract Expressionist paintings and sculptures in 2021 as well as a total of $14.5 million to support various museum initiatives over the course of 2020-2021. The works went on view in 2021. The gift included the creation of The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Acquisition Fund for Global Contemporary Art.
    • And in April 2023, a gift of 48 major works by Alexander Calder was made by longtime museum supporters Jon and Kim Shirley. The gift of the Shirley Family Calder Collection is supported by a $10 million endowment and an annual financial commitment from the Shirley’s to support Calder-related exhibitions and research. The works will debut in November 2023 in Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection.

“The Board of Trustees want to express our sincere gratitude to Amada for her leadership at SAM,” says Board Chair Constance Rice. “Amada’s achievements have been many. In addition to steering SAM successfully through a global pandemic, the museum came through even stronger with spectacular exhibitions, landmark gifts of art and funding, and an expanded commitment to equity across the museum. SAM faces a bright future thanks to her leadership during these immensely difficult times.” 

This fall, Amada takes the helm at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) as the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director and CEO where we know she will bring the same dedication and vision to SBMA that she did during her time at SAM. 

Amada will continue at SAM in her current role through the first week of October providing museum leadership the time and opportunity to collaborate on a smooth transition plan. 

Thank you, Amada, for your steadfast leadership of SAM the past four years. You are leaving SAM well positioned for a bright future. We wish you much success and fulfillment in Santa Barbara and know you will take SBMA to new heights like you did SAM. 

… you will be missed!

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

Shining a Light on Possibilities: Nicholas Galanin on Inviting Viewers into His Work

Museums are places of reflection and respite as well as places to learn and work through challenging ideas and painful experiences that are not shared equally in an unjust society. In this video interview, multidisciplinary artist Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Unangaẋ) speaks about the historical divisions between “contemporary” or “American” art and “Native” art that the reinstallation deconstructs, his goals for audience engagement with his participatory installation, and the layered meanings of the words and symbols he uses in the work.

Explore his latest interactive installation Neon American Anthem (2023) in American Art: The Stories We Carry on view now at the Seattle Art Museum.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: L. Fried.

Remembering Alfredo Arreguín

“Art is life. It is a vessel that allows me to express my perception of the world, my sense of beauty and my social concerns–which, I believe, are shared by many other persons around the world.”

– Alfredo Arreguín, in an interview with Artophilia

Everyone at the Seattle Art Museum was very saddened to learn of the recent passing of beloved Seattle painter Alfredo Arreguín at the age of 88. Acclaimed for his lavish, intricately patterned, and highly symbolic canvases, he was one of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent Chicano artists. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Alfredo when the museum purchased his artwork, Four Self-Portraits (1995) for the collection. We were in the midst of checklist development for our major project to reimagine the museum’s American art galleries and were struck by the underrepresentation of Mexican American artists in the museum’s collection—particularly given the breadth of this community in our region. Jake Prendez, owner and co-director of Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery, a member of our Advisory Circle for American Art: The Stories We Carry, and a wonderful resource on Seattle’s Chicanx community and its artists, invited me to his gallery to view Alfredo’s work. I was hooked. One visit to the artist’s studio later, and we were on our way to acquiring the first of his paintings to enter SAM’s collection.

Alfredo was born in Morelia, Michoacán in 1935, and was encouraged by his grandparents (who raised him) to begin painting at a young age. When he was nine, he enrolled in the Morelia School of Fine Art, eventually moving on to the prestigious Escuela Nacional Preparatoria at the University of Mexico, from which he graduated in 1956. That same year, encouraged by a local family, he came to Seattle and obtained a permanent visa so that he could attend Edison Tech (now Seattle Central College) to study English, earn his US high school diploma, and enroll at the University of Washington to study architecture. When a condition of his visa made him eligible for the draft, he entered the army and was stationed in Korea and Japan. Upon his discharge in 1960, he returned to architectural studies, eventually transitioning to interior design and, finally, the School of Art. While there, he studied alongside celebrated artists Alden Mason, Michael Spafford, and, for a time, Elmer Bischoff. After receiving his MFA in 1969, he settled permanently in Seattle, becoming a force among artists and an integral member of the local Chicanx community.

Alfredo is celebrated for his astonishing signature style: exuberant, mosaic-inflected, all-over compositions comprised of motifs derived from the rainforests and Indigenous cultures of Mexico, the compositions of Hokusai and Hiroshige, and the nature and topography of the Pacific Northwest. His work is closely aligned with American Pattern Painting of the 1970s, yet it is also deeply personal and symbolic. A series of paintings of historical figures Emiliano Zapata and Frida Kahlo, for example, pay homage to activists whose interests resonate with his own, while a body of landscape paintings encode the flora, fauna, and natural beauty that inspire him. For him, painting was a form of therapy, a flow activity to which he returned every day.

Arreguín’s singular—even autobiographical—approach is nowhere more evident than in his large number of self-portraits, of which Four Self-Portraits is perhaps the most extreme and challenging example. A tapestry of tropical flowers, birds, leaves, arabesques, and ancient symbols interlace to camouflage four distinct portraits of Arreguín: two at the top and two more, mirrored, at the bottom—literally merging the artist with the places and cultures of his ancestry. Remembering Alfredo, I find myself seeing this engrossing painting afresh, grateful that SAM now shares in the legacy of this distinguished artist. Its acquisition will shape our collection strategy for years to come, as we amplify our efforts to bring in artworks—both historical and contemporary—by Chicanx and Latinx artists.

– Theresa Papanickolas, SAM Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art

Photos: Alborz Kamalizad. Four Self-Portraits, 1995, Alfredo Arreguin, Oil on canvas, Painting: 49 3/8 x 42 3/8 in. (125.4 x 107.6 cm) Frame: 55 x 43 in. (139.7 x 109.2 cm), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2022.13 (c) Alfredo Arreguin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Kelly Buck, SAM Institutional Giving Coordinator

Photos: Chloe Collyer.

Perspectives on American Art: Inye Wokoma on Beauty, Critique, and Personal Revelations

As part of the collaborative process to reimagine its American art galleries, SAM invited Inye Wokoma—artist, filmmaker, journalist, and co-founder of Wa Na Wari in Seattle—to curate Reimagining Regionalism, a gallery that offers a distinctive new interpretation of works from SAM’s collection. Here, he shares about his experience. 

A good friend recently asked about my relationship to SAM prior to embarking on my curation project for American Art: The Stories We Carry. The question took me back to my childhood; some of my earliest memories are of going to the original Volunteer Park location to see vintage cinema with my mother and sister. For years I was infatuated with one film I saw there, Alexander Mackendrick’s The Man in the White Suit (1951). The final scene is of “the man” running through the streets at night in his luminous “indestructible” suit, pursued by an angry mob of textile workers and factory bosses inflamed by industry captains. His incredible fibers begin to disintegrate in the fracas, and the anger of his pursuers evaporates in the face of his near nakedness. It was an early experience with art that critiqued capitalist oligarchs and complicit proletariats. At seven years old, I was too young to understand its clearly Marxist undertones, but my young imagination was captured by the image of the man, glowing, urgent, and gliding through the dark streets of an English city.

Still from The Man in the White Suit (1951). Courtesy of STUDIOCANAL.

Subconsciously, memories of this film intertwined with my feelings about SAM, regarding it as an institution where provocative art can find a home. And it informed my curatorial approach, which was inspired by its rich interplay of aesthetic beauty, political satire, social commentary, and economic critique.

Inye Wokoma with SAM curators Theresa Papanikolas and Barbara Brotherton in the galleries of American Art: The Stories We Carry at SAM. Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Art helps us acknowledge that no gaze is neutral. My personal and creative lens is shaped by being a Black American man and more specifically a man of dual heritage via my father’s Nigerian origins. Approaching this project, my perception was shaped by the previous galleries’ predominant themes: classical landscapes, portraits of the powerful, fetishized representations of Indigenous people, and objects of conquest. I was called to confront the roles my ancestors played in the histories these works depict without a sense that the curation was a two-way conversation between these realities. With this gallery, I wanted to upend that dynamic while avoiding a flattened protestation of America’s racial and colonial history. I wanted to be able to relay stories through my curation that included these historical truths, but were also personal and therefore infinitely accessible. Hopefully.

– Inye Wokoma, Guest Curator of American Art: The Stories We Carry

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

Photo: James Harnois.

Muse/News: Color and Form, Surreal Sculpture, and Manet vs. Degas

SAM News

The Seattle Times’ Margo Vansynghel recommends “6 colorful Seattle art shows for spring,” including Ikat: A World of Compelling Cloth, on view through May 29.

“…splendidly shows that the technique is an art form, one that requires a mathematical and creative mind, plus a profound understanding of colors and dyes.”

Handwoven Magazine features an overview of Ikat from a weaver’s perspective

“…if you go, you can simply view and read about ikat, but you can also more fully immerse yourself in the art form with videos, multimedia materials, and even raw weaving materials.”

And Post Alley’s Spider Kedelsky reviews the exhibition

Local News

Brangien Davis’s latest ArtSEA post covers Bumbershoot lineup and other summer music festivals, along with a visit to the Bellevue Arts Museum and a detour into upcoming dance performances.

Achoo! Via Seattle Met: “A Viewing Guide for the UW Cherry Blossoms.”

“Emily Counts’s Surreal Sculptures Capture Women’s Magical Powers”: Did you read Jas Keimig’s story on the sculptor’s upcoming show, Sea of Vapors, for the Stranger’s recent Art and Performance? 

“The show is an ambitious exploration of time, decay, self, and the women in her life, but it also marks a truly impressive expansion of Counts’s already intricate and incredible art practice, a mark of an artist on the grind to grow and traverse new areas of creativity.”

Inter/National News

Christie’s blog shares “10 things to know about Marsden Hartley: America’s Modernist.” The artist’s Painting Number 49, Berlin (1914-15) is currently on view in American Art: The Stories We Carry. And don’t miss the Frye Art Museum’s show of his Maine paintings. 

Via Artdaily: “Gagosian presents new paintings by Amoako Boafo in New York.” Seattle gets its chance to explore Boafo’s work when Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks arrives at SAM in July!

Artnet’s Anna Sansom speaks with Isolde Pludermacher, chief curator of painting at the Musée d’Orsay, about their new blockbuster show, Manet/Degas, which compares the two artists

“Both artists were born into bourgeois backgrounds. But whereas the extroverted Manet was highly driven towards recognition, the more introverted Degas often eschewed official channels of legitimacy. While they shared certain interests—such as depictions of café scenes, prostitution, nudes in bathtubs, and horse racing—they portrayed these genres in contrasting ways.”

And Finally

Apo Whang-Od on the cover of Vogue Philippines.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Muse/News: Staff Stories, Operatic Resilience, and Artist Curates

SAM News

“How one Seattle Art Museum staffer adds a personal touch to museum-going”: Don’t miss this story that appeared in the paper’s Sunday print edition featuring Chelsea Leingang, Visitor Experience Manager at SAM. Chelsea took reporter Jerald Pierce around their favorite places in the museum and shared their infectious enthusiasm for connecting over art. 

“‘Every single piece of art within this place has its own story,’ Leingang said. ‘And the best part about my team is they are the gateway to those stories. They are taking their own personal experiences of what resonates with them within this museum and sharing that with every person that walks in.’”

Say hi to Chelsea and the rest of the SAM crew at Ikat: A World of Compelling Cloth, an exhibition exploring over 100 dazzling textiles opening to the public this Thursday, March 9.

In their latest print edition, Seattle Met shouts out all three SAM locations in a graphic “tourist trap matrix.” Online, they share “Where to Take Tourists in Seattle” according to their editors, including a day at Volunteer Park and the Asian Art Museum. 

Local News

Gather, readers, AWP is here! Via Annie Midori Atherton for Seattle Magazine: “Your Favorite Authors Might Very Well Be In Seattle This Weekend—Here’s How To Catch Them.” 

Jerald Pierce of the Seattle Times had more good news to report recently: “PNW basket maker Ed Eugene Carriere named NEA National Heritage Fellow.” You can see one of his extraordinary baskets on view at SAM in American Art: The Stories We Carry.

Danielle Hayden for South Seattle Emerald on Seattle Opera’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, based on the Khaled Hosseini novel. Go see it!

“[Director Roya] Sadat also recognizes, however, that inequality and deprivation of fundamental human rights are not unique to Afghanistan, but are issues that reverberate across the globe. ‘I want this opera to stand as a reminder of their strength in the face of violence. This opera is a narrative of women’s resilience.’”

Inter/National News

AP reports: “Notre Dame Cathedral set to reopen in December 2024.” Catch up on the reconstruction efforts.

Artnet’s Melissa Smith asks artists Alisha Wormsley, Mequitta Ahuja, and Cauleen Smith what it means to be an Afrofuturist now.

Via Benjamin Sutton of the Art Newspaper: “Native American painter Jaune Quick-to-See Smith will be the first artist to curate a show at the US National Gallery of Art.”

“Smith’s curatorial turn comes at a moment of long-overdue institutional recognition for the artist, whose incisive and wide-ranging practice rooted in painting and collage is the subject of a major retrospective opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art next month, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map.”

And Finally

Meet Sonny and Uno.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Muse/News: Color Festival, Archive Dives, and Cultural Preservation

SAM News

“Support Seattle Art Museum’s year-round cultural programming at this lavish gala,” says The Stranger in their “Top 63 Events in Seattle This Week” round-up, recommending The Colors of Holi Gala at the Seattle Asian Art Museum this Saturday night. You can also celebrate the festival during the day at the free Holi Family Celebration

A recommendation from 425 Magazine: Ikat: A World of Compelling Cloth, an exhibition exploring over 100 dazzling textiles, opens next week at SAM. 

Alison Sutcliffe for Tinybeans shares “25 Things to Do with a Baby in Seattle,” including mentions of the tranquil setting of the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the fresh air and sculptures of the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Local News

The Seattle Times’ Jerald Pierce with “6 exhibitions you need to see for Women’s History Month.” 

Theron Hassi for UW Daily on the Art as Activism show at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, which “highlights four local Iranian artists and their responses to the crisis enveloping their home country.”

Whitewall interviews Wendy Red Star on her artworks created for bus shelters in Boston, Chicago, and New York City. Red Star also mentions her commission for SAM, Áakiiwilaxpaake (People Of The Earth), which is on view now in American Art: The Stories We Carry

“She takes us along in her pursuit of history and knowledge in an effort to gain and share access to that which has been taken, stolen, lost to time, or hidden away in high-walled institutions.”

Inter/National News

Robin Pogrebin for the New York Times: “To expand the scope and reach of its collection, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is creating a new center dedicated to the study, acquisition and care of art from continental Africa and the African diaspora.”

Francesca Aton for ARTnews reports that Ghanaian artist El Anatsui has received the Hyundai Commission at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. 

Via Eileen Kinsella for Artnet: “Winterizing Monuments, Digitizing Archives: How Ukraine Is Fighting to Preserve Its Cultural Heritage a Year Into the Russian Invasion.”

“[World Monuments Fund’s Kateryna] Goncharova stressed the importance of cultural heritage preservation, saying: ‘Restoring a monument that was destroyed gives people a reason to withstand whatever the circumstances we have to face, whatever challenges may come. It gives us something to look forward to. So continue believing in Ukraine, continue believing in our future.’”

And Finally

Kung Fu Nuns of Nepal.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Robert Wade.

Lessons of the Past: Kari Karsten on Curating SAM’s American Art Galleries

Artworks of the past never cease to offer new lessons, insights, and interpretations.

In this video created as part of the two-year reinstallation of SAM’s American art galleries, SAM Emerging Museum Professional of American Art and member of the Seneca nation Kari Karsten discusses her research into Spokane-born artist Kenneth Callahan’s The Accident, and the enduring questions artworks such as these can raise, even over 75 years after their creation.

Read more about Kari’s contributions to SAM while serving as an Emerging Arts Leader Intern in this reflection she wrote after completing her year-long thesis for the University of Washington Museology masters program and opening Indigenous Matrix: Northwest Women Printmakers last fall.

Visit SAM today to experience all American Art: The Stories We Carry has to offer and see Callahan’s painting for yourself.

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Photo: L. Fried.

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

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

– Inye Wokoma

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

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

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

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

Image: Chloe Collyer.

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

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

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

– Lily Hansen, SAM Marketing Content Creator

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

Muse/News: Inspiration of Ambition, Artist Amends, and Wautier’s Moment

SAM News

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue is now on view at SAM! Jerald Pierce of the Seattle Times shared highlights from the exhibition’s themes alongside photos by Erika Schultz. The review also appeared in the paper’s Sunday print edition. 

“Over the decades, these two artists have become known for their explorations of Black life in America, melding history with the present through intimate portraits, thoughtful landscapes and carefully crafted visual storytelling. Bey called their friendship a kind of “inspiration of ambition,” where the two photographers inspired each other to push the boundaries of their medium as they’ve watched photography evolve over the decades.”

The exhibition was also featured in the digital weekly Air Mail. 

And don’t miss Arte Noir’s interview with artist Inye Wokoma about his curatorial project as part of American Art: The Stories We Carry, also on view at SAM.

“I want people to see the gallery as an interrogation of the complexities of our personal and political relationships. Contemporary relationships that are often born of brutal histories.”

Local News

“Brings down the house with every number”: The Seattle Times’ Jerald Pierce also loved The Wiz at the 5th Avenue Theatre and thinks you should see it.

“Minimalist pleasures in a maximalist holiday season”: Here’s Brangien Davis’s most recent ArtSEA dispatch of what to see.

Evelyn Archibald for The Daily on Amends, Miha Sahari’s solo show on the University of Washington campus. 

“A core theme of Amends is the nature of past, present, and future. The artist revisits his home in many pieces, whether it be the portraits of his family, the cultural icons of Slovenia, or subconscious influence from his life in the Balkans.”

Inter/National News

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone on Eyes on Iran, a new public art installation “inspired by the ongoing women’s rights protest movement in Iran” that debuted recently at New York’s Roosevelt Island. One of the participating artists is Shirin Neshat; you can read more about her art and activism in this reflection by SAM staff photographer Alborz Kamalizad. 

Erin L. Thompson for Hyperallergic shares stories of the Red Orchestra, a group of young German artists who resisted Hitler. 

Milton Esterow of The New York Times reviews the first US exhibition of the work of 17th-century painter Michaelina Wautier, which is now on view at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. A work by Wautier is a beloved painting in SAM’s European collection—you can learn more about Boys Blowing Bubbles in this 2018 SAM Blog story

“The Boston show, said Marisa Anne Bass, a professor of art history at Yale University, ‘is part of a broader and important trend in scholarship on early modern European art, which no longer treats the recuperation of women artists as an end in itself but instead increasingly aims to recognize the central role of women as actors, thinkers and creators. To give women equal historical representation is not just about answering the concerns about the present. It is also about gaining a fuller understanding of the past.’”

And Finally

Sight and Sound is out once again with its list of the “Greatest Films of All Time.” DISCUSS. 

 Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

Artist Wendy Red Star’s Visions of Native Women

“I’ve never had the opportunity to walk through an American collection and see Native women and youth presented in the way I hope to do with this new work.”

– Wendy Red Star

Now on view at SAM is American Art: The Stories We Carry, a dramatic reinstallation of the museum’s American art galleries that explores a more expansive look at the American experience. It’s the result of an extensive collaboration among SAM curators, staff, artists, community advisors. In this video, Apsáalooke artist Wendy Red Star describes her experience collaborating with SAM and offers insights into her process as she was in the midst of creating a commissioned artwork for the project. She also describes the significance of including Native women’s voices when redefining American art.

Red Star’s striking artwork, Áakiiwilaxpaake (People Of The Earth) (2022), is now the first thing visitors see when they approach the American art galleries. The lightbox installation is a compelling hybrid of iconic American art genres: the portrait and the landscape. To create this large-scale work, Red Star invited Seattle photographer Holli Margell to create portraits of local Native women and children in a session held at the museum. Red Star then set these cutout portraits within her vision of the Seattle skyline, including Japanese artist Yoshida Hiroshi’s (1876–1950) woodblock print of Tahoma (also known as Mount Rainier) from SAM’s collection. By recalling the history of the region’s original inhabitants, Red Star celebrates the vibrant present and future of Natives in their home territories as well as urban Natives.

This isn’t the first time the museum has collaborated with Red Star. In 2016, she was the winner of SAM’s Betty Bowen Award, an annual award for Northwest artists that includes a solo show at SAM. The museum also acquired for its collection four prints from her photographic Four Seasons series, which was on view in the 2019 installation YOU ARE ON INDIGENOUS LAND: places/displaces.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

Rosa Sittig-Bell: An Emerging Arts Leader’s Look at SAM

Growing up in Seattle, I spent many years skipping school on the first Thursday of every month to wander the ever-changing exhibitions at SAM, picking out my favorite paintings and developing a personal relationship with them. I always knew that I wanted to be a part of creating the magic that happens when you enter a museum and experience the way one artwork can transform your perspective on the world and yourself. Through my internship at the museum, I was able to get closer to recognizable and historic artworks—many of which I have been enamored with for years—than I had ever imagined I would, as well as getting to intimately investigate, work with, and develop new relationships to new pieces in SAM’s collection. 

Like a child being pulled away from a candy shop, as my Emerging Arts Leader Internship at SAM concludes, I want to look back on how transformative and fascinating working with the conservation team has been as I focused on conservation projects at the Olympic Sculpture Park and on objects in the museum’s reinstallation of its American art galleries, which debuted this October.

In the ever-increasing heat of Seattle’s newfound summer, I spent days running around the Olympic Sculpture Park with Senior Objects Conservator Elizabeth Brown as we treated the various sculptures that inhabit SAM’s outdoor location. This work ranged from re-waxing Louise Bourgeois’ Father and Son, to painting Alexander Calder’s The Eagle, to treating George Rickey’s kinetic sculpture Two Plane Vertical Horizontal Variation III. I was struck by the public’s fascination with our process, stopping on their strolls with their Australian Shepherds to inquire about what we were doing. I would stop—blow torch and wax in hand—and explain these routine art treatments. These interactions made clear to me that the public is invested in the art around them, and that this work contributes to dialogues on accessible art. 

The conversation around what it means to work in conservation tends to be slim outside of the museum sphere, and I believe it’s a majorly overlooked aspect of the processes artworks go through before they are sent across the world to various museums, acquired from collectors, or have been sitting on display for months. How do we interact with artworks in a way that will allow them to be experienced in the future? Conservation is a field that combines investigation in so many different directions: the hand-skills needed to replicate the movements of practicing artists, the chemistry knowledge that informs how to interact with various materials, and the knowledge of art history that is needed to investigate the unique mechanisms of every artwork. My understanding of how multifaceted conservation is has grown immensely during my time here at SAM. 

Working at SAM has also revealed to me how museums and other art institutions can work toward greater equity. As part of my internship, I attended a few sessions of the American art project’s advisory circle, a group of 11 members of the community who advised on the reinstallation. These sessions were eye-opening. I was able to see and be a part of how SAM is working to eliminate an echo chamber of only museum staff in reflecting how communities would like to be represented themselves in the galleries. 

I will look back longingly on my experience, wishing I could use the XRF machine (essentially a handheld X-ray) one more time or attempt to clean a 19th-century elevator screen using a CO2 gun with Objects Conservator Geneva Griswold and fellow conservation intern Caitlyn Fong again. I will forever cherish being able to work so closely with objects from around the world. Becoming so personal with the art that I grew up visiting in the museum and investigating it on a whole new, and sometimes molecular level, has been one of the greatest learning experiences I could have imagined.

In concluding my internship, I look forward to seeking out more opportunities in the conservation field and to make sure that the art that touches us can be seen for years to come.

– Rosa Sittig-Bell, SAM Emerging Arts Leader Intern in Conservation

Photo: Chloe Collyer.

Muse/News: Fresh Attention, Shark Tank, and Broken is Mended

SAM News

For Crosscut’s weekly ArtSEA dispatch, Brangien Davis is inspired by “fresh attention to art arrangement” at both the Frye Art Museum and at SAM in American Art: The Stories We Carry.

“…a striking section…includes a huge portrait by Kehinde Wiley, a tintype photo of a Lummi violinist by Will Wilson and a turn-of-the-century cast-bronze sculpture of an ‘Indian Warrior’ by Alexander Phimister Proctor. Each holds a long straight object: a rod, a violin bow, and a spear. Each prompts thoughts about who is portrayed in art and how.”

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue opens Thursday, November 17! The exhibition—which brings together the work of these two legendary photographers for the first time—was featured in Crosscut’s list of “things to do in Seattle this November.”

“What connects their work, besides a friendship and a medium, is a shared timeframe and understanding of the power of photography as a way to explore—and celebrate—the experiences of Black people.”

And there’s a whole alphabet of fun from Gemma Alexander for ParentMap as she shares “Amazing A–Z PNW Winter Adventures Family Fun Workshops”—including SAM’s recurring Family Fun Workshops at both the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Local News

There’s a new venue in a very old space at the Pike Place Market. Crosscut’s Alexa Peters reports on the launch of The Rabbit Box.

The Seattle Times’ Jerald Pierce on the site-specific Saltwater Soundwalk, “a 55-minute listening experience that uplifts the stories and voices of Indigenous Coast Salish peoples.”

The Seattle Times’ Sandi Doughton on the development of the Seattle Aquarium’s new Ocean Pavilion, which will transform the downtown waterfront.

“‘This landscape that was dominated by a big, honking, gray, rumbling freeway will now be a massive public park for the people,’ says Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis, whose district includes the waterfront. At the center of it all will be the Seattle Aquarium’s new Ocean Pavilion: a 50,000-square-foot exhibit space featuring sharks, rays, and other animals and ecosystems from the tropical Pacific.”

Inter/National News

Elaine Velie for Hyperallergic on the National Portrait Gallery’s seven new “Portrait of a Nation” commissions, including Serena and Venus Williams, Marian Wright Edelman, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Artnet’s Vittoria Benzine catches you up on “Every Artwork Attacked by Climate Activists This Year, From the ‘Mona Lisa’ to ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring.’”

Artnet’s Sarah Cascone with a deep look at the new stained glass windows by artists Faith Ringgold and Barbara Earl Thomas at a residential college of Yale University.

“‘I took it as a huge responsibility,’ Thomas told Artnet News, noting that she had heard about the controversy surrounding the broken window, but never dreamed that she would become part of the story. ‘I feel quite emotional about it. This was a moment for me to be part of something far bigger than me.’”

And Finally

CBS Sunday Morning visits the new Museum of Broadway.

 Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: L. Fried.

Muse/News: Evolving Art, Analog’s Return, and a New Artemisia

SAM News

“How Seattle Art Museum is working to make its American art galleries more inclusive”: The Seattle Times’ Jerald Pierce on American Art: The Stories We Carry. He spoke with SAM curators and several collaborators on the project to reimagine our American art galleries.

“As SAM looks ahead at the future of its newly redone galleries, Papanikolas said she hopes this will slow patrons down as they go through, taking in the historical works alongside the contemporary and finding new personal meaning in the art. Both Papanikolas and Brotherton said they know there are still moments in history that haven’t been highlighted in this particular version of the installation, and artists who aren’t yet in their collection, but they’re excited about the flexibility and nimbleness of these galleries and their ability to respond to an evolving definition of ‘American art.’”

“What is America? Who is American? These are the questions that SAM strives to answer by including Asian, Latinx, Black, and Indigenous works in what was previously a series of rooms dominated by white male artists.” Kai Curry for Northwest Asian Weekly on the revamped American art galleries at SAM.

The Seattle Times also highlights “5 exhibitions to see during Native American Heritage Month,” including Indigenous Matrix: Northwest Women Printmakers at SAM. Curated by Kari Karsten and featuring works by Francis Dick, Susan Point, and more, it’s on view at SAM through December 11.

Local News

“Molly Vaughan’s After Boucher Brings Rococo to the Frye”: SAM’s 2017 Betty Bowen Award winner Vaughan recounts the process of her latest work, on view on the façade of the Frye Art Museum.

Yoona Lee for South Seattle Emerald on the work of attorney-turned artist Zahyr Lauren.

Crosscut’s Margo Vansynghel on the Northwest’s resurgence of interest in analog photography.

“But, as [Panda Labs owner Jessica] Fleenor and others proclaim under Instagram and TikTok posts featuring analog photography: #FilmIsNotDead. ‘Film is still very much alive,’ Fleenor says. And perhaps surprisingly, the comeback is in large part driven by a generation of ‘digital natives’ who developed a love for film photography and classic film cameras during the pandemic.”

Inter/National News

Jasmine Liu for Hyperallergic on the first official public statue of Emmett Till, just unveiled in Greenwood, Mississippi.

ARTnews’ Tessa Soloman reports from a talk held at the Islamic Museum of Art in Doha that invited four museum directors to tackle questions about museums and social responsibility.

Via Artnet’s Sarah Cascone: “A Painting Nearly Destroyed in the Beirut Blast of 2020 Has Been Identified as a Long-Lost Artemisia Gentileschi—and Is Now Undergoing Restoration.”

“‘This painting is definitely by Artemisia,’ Davide Gasparotto, the Getty Museum’s senior curator of paintings, who arranged for the work’s restoration and loan, told the New York Times. ‘It’s a very powerful, convincing painting—one of her most ambitious in terms of size and the complexity of the figures.’”

And Finally

It’s Halloween; it’s KXVO Pumpkin Dance time.

 Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Photo: Alborz Kamalizad.

A Curator Reflects: An Exploration That Never Ends

As I write this, the first wave of visitors have finally experienced American Art: The Stories We Carry. This major reinstallation of our American art galleries has been two years (at least!) in the making and is the product of the work of a mighty team of collaborators, funded by generous grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art. 

The multiple crises of recent years, together with the museum’s commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity have made it essential that we question and dismantle the biases and myths that have historically driven—whether intentionally or not—our understanding and presentation of American art at the museum. As a curator of American art with a degree in European art history and a career in museums from Houston to Honolulu, I know well that the art of the United States does not begin and end with the oceans that define its coastal borders. Indeed, American art is as multilayered as America itself. More a collective of regions than a homogenous whole, the geopolitical expanse now known as North America is home to numerous clearly identifiable, yet often intersecting, communities, each of which is mirrored in equally layered artistic traditions and cultural practices. 

To reflect and respond to the many-sidedness of American art, when embarking on this project we knew we needed to set aside art historical chronology and instead consider constellations of artworks from many different time periods and traditions. We immersed ourselves in the museum’s storage vaults, unearthing works that had not been exhibited in years—or, in some cases, ever—and contemplating the counterpoints they offered to the better known, classically canonical examples ordinarily on view in the museum’s American art galleries. These works speak volumes about the history of art at SAM and in this region, and they shed light on the communities that have been historically excluded in traditional narratives of American art.

Theresa Papanikolas & Barbara Brotherton at the opening of The Stories We Carry on October 20, 2022.

My use of the word “we” is intentional: Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art, has been with me on this project every step of the way as a powerful ally in determining what American art can and should be at SAM. Over her 20 years at the museum, she has always been aware that Native American art is American art. Together, Barbara and I sought points of intersection between these two branches of the museum’s collection and for the first time envisioned a space in which they would intersect. Our work has been bolstered by a host of individuals—three artists, four interns, 11 advisors, and just about every museum department—all of whom brought knowledge that not only greatly enriched the project, but also established a collaborative model that will continue to shape exhibition planning at SAM.  

All of us are delighted to share The Stories We Carry with you! In our new galleries, you will see old favorites alongside new and unexpected surprises that show how ideas persist across time and space and how history resonates in the present. And you will find curatorial interpretation (labels and wall texts) together with video clips from artists and experts—“living labels”—whose wisdom and perspective adds nuance to the objects on view. I’m also thrilled by the in-depth exhibition website, which brings you into the process with a project timeline, quotes, photos, and inspiring videos featuring our collaborators sharing their perspectives.

The Stories We Carry has definitely been a rich and rewarding journey. We invite you to now make it your story.

– Theresa Papanikolas, SAM Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art

Images: Alborz Kamalizad.

Muse/News: Fresh Perspectives, Artist Homes, and Real Change

SAM News

It’s finally here! American Art: The Stories We Carry opens October 20 at SAM, after a two-year collaborative process to reimagine the museum’s American art galleries. Artdaily has all the details, including this quote from curator Theresa Papanikolas. 

“Collaborating with our many partners has brought fresh perspectives to this work as well as a layer of accountability not always present in exhibition planning. The reinstalled galleries are not only the physical manifestation of this process, but also, we hope, an incubator for ever-evolving ideas of what American art can and should be.”

Local News

Eater’s Jade Yamazaki Stewart on Brendan McGill’s new trattoria in downtown Seattle, Bar Solea. It’s just blocks from the Seattle Art Museum, so grab an Italian meal (or just some gelato!) after taking in some art. 

Just in time for spooky season, Seattle Met collected “Washington State’s Most Horrific Film Achievements.”

The Seattle Times’ Grace Gorenflo was there for the groundbreaking ceremony of the city’s new space for five cultural organizations, including the Cultural Space Agency, which is spearheading the project. 

“We have great programs, but that can only thrive when there’s a place,” [Totem Star co-founder Daniel Pak] said. “The whole meaning of this project is to give artists a place in this city that’s growing so fast. It’s very simple. That’s what this is all about. It’s about giving artists a home.”

Inter/National News

“5 Works to Know by Rosa Bonheur”: ARTnews’ Shanti Escalante-De Mattei on the 19th-century French artist whose work is currently on view at the Musée d’Orsay.

The New York Times’ Alex Marshall on the kerfuffle last week at London’s National Gallery, when two activists from Just Stop Oil threw soup “over” (it was under glass) Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

Via Artnet’s Sarah Cascone: “For the first time in 20 years, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) will be updating the standards for its member institutions, adding new required goals on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI).”

“‘We’re seeing that most museums are prioritizing DEAI in genuine ways,’ [Laura Lott, AAM president and CEO] said. ‘Having specific guidance on what is expected and third-party review and validation, however, is critical to deep and sustained work that leads to real, systemic change.’”

And Finally

Rest in peace, Eclipse the Bus-Riding Dog.

 Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations

Image: Four Self-Portraits, 1995, Alfredo Arreguin, Oil on canvas, Painting: 49 3/8 x 42 3/8 in. (125.4 x 107.6 cm) Frame: 55 x 43 in. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2022.13 © Alfredo Arreguin.

Introducing American Art: The Stories We Carry at SAM

This week, SAM will enthusiastically reopen its American art galleries, revealing new perspectives on our collection, commissioned work from celebrated Northwest artists, and paintings restored by our conservation team. But the purpose of this update is much more significant than simply presenting a new array of must-see art.

This project, funded primarily by the Mellon Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art, has been an energizing, collaborative, and thoughtful exploration of what American art is today. To execute this examination, we assembled a paid advisory circle of 11 community leaders and artists to provide valuable feedback as we reinterpret our collection to meet the present moment and acknowledge the evolving definition of American art.

“With inclusivity as one of our values, we felt the urgency to take the collection and hold it accountable to that mission,” says Theresa Papanikolas, SAM’s Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art.

The new galleries, titled American Art: The Stories We Carry, will present the collection thematically and across time periods and feature works by nationally renowned local and national artists long overdue for closer examination within the American context. This includes moving objects from SAM’s Native American art collection into the American art galleries—previously dominated by the work of white artists—for the first time.

“We acknowledge that we must change all aspects of our practice as an institution of privilege and one that cares for the belongings of others,” says Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art.

Also on view will be newly commissioned works by Native artists Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke) and Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Unangax̂), a themed gallery curated by Seattle artist Inye Wokoma, and a dedicated gallery for rotating series of temporary installations exploring fresh perspectives on American art. The first of these installations will feature 15 prints from Jacob Lawrence’s series The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture.

Visit American Art: The Stories We Carry at SAM’s downtown location beginning October 20 and experience a more thorough representation of the past, present, and future of American art.

– Kat Bryant Flaherty, SAM Director of Marketing & Communications

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

Image: L. Fried.

Celebrating Native Women and Youth

One sunny Saturday in June, the Seattle Art Museum’s Chase Open Studio, which has been mostly closed for the past two years due to COVID-19 safety precautions, sprung to life. Convivial sounds echoed in the hall, people greeted each other exuberantly, the marble staircase produced perfect clacking noises as tiny, shiny shoes jumped down them, and photographer Holli Margell made gentle coos to get the attention of little models and their family members.

The scene was a photoshoot celebrating Seattle-area tribal communities and urban Indian communities. More than 70 mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmas, and children came from near and far to sit for a portrait. The models dressed in a variety of clothing from traditional regalia to a t-shirt and jeans. Some posed alone while others gathered in multi-generational groups of as many as 10.

These stunning portraits of Native women and youth will be integrated by Apsáalooke artist Wendy Red Star into a commissioned artwork for American Art: The Stories We Carry, SAM’s updated American art collection opening on October 20. The reinstallation expands the vision of how art depicts the American experience, with Wendy Red Star’s artwork serving as a welcome to visitors at the entrance of the American art galleries.

“At the core of Wendy Red Star’s artistic process is engagement and community,” says Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art. “She foregrounds the voices of others as a means of revealing the complexity of Native identity.”

This shoot, and the examination of the definition of American art, are examples of SAM’s equity goals in action. SAM relies on its collection, exhibitions, and artists to reflect its institutional values of fostering equity and inclusion throughout the museum and its local community.

“At Wendy’s photoshoot, the Seattle Art Museum came alive with people sharing their stories—where they come from, who their ancestors were, special things about what their families are involved with,” says Brotherton. “It felt like a moment of connecting and healing after the long, challenging time of the pandemic.”

– Kat Bryant Flaherty, SAM Director of Marketing & Communications

This article first appeared in the October 2022 through January 2023 article of SAM Magazine. Become a SAM member today to receive our quarterly magazine delivered directly to your mailbox and other exclusive member perks.

Images: L. Fried.

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