The Art of Creating a Label

On October 13, Luminous: The Art of Asia opens at SAM Downtown. SAM houses one of the finest collections of Asian art in the United States and Luminous showcases that. Totaling 160 pieces, this exhibition meshes the ancient with the contemporary while leaving room for individual interpretation and questioning.  Do Ho Suh is an artist who has worked closely with SAM over the years and has contributed his own contemporary installation to the show as well as his perspectives, ideas and questions, which pepper the labels of various pieces on display.

A common thread that runs through Luminous is the highlighting of difficulties in museum practices. Museums have a very difficult job telling the public the intended message of their pieces in an accurate and concise manner. In discussions with Catherine Roche, the curator of Luminous, Suh said, “The museum is a space of displacement. Every object in a museum has been moved from its original context and placed on a pedestal.” He goes on to mention the important role that the museum has; piecing together gaps to tell the overall story. The question remains – what is the best way for the museum to tell the story? There are three common ways: guided tours, audio guides, and the ever-present labels.

We asked Roche to give us insight on the formation and importance of those labels. She wrote:

Read More

Need a Venue for an Event? Look No Further Than the Seattle Art Museum!

Museums are beautiful, tranquil places filled with some of the most beautiful pieces of art that history has to offer. Imagine holding a corporate meeting at the Seattle Art Museum to impress some important clients, or imagine impressing your friends by renting out the Seattle Asian Art Museum to throw a party, or even more amazing, imagine yourself getting married in the Olympic Sculpture Park with the Seattle waterfront as your backdrop! Many people are unaware that we can make these dreams a reality.  You can rent just a portion of the museum or the entire building if it suits your needs and then have the event catered by our fabulous restaurant TASTE.

Jamie and Jared felt that the Olympic Sculpture Park was the perfect place for a ceremony and had an afternoon that they will never forget. Jamie and Jared were married on September 18, 2010 in the Park and our summer TASTE intern, Kristina Krug, had the chance to ask them a few questions about their wedding. Here’s to wishing them a happy one year anniversary from all the folks here at SAM!

Read More

Totems and Trees: A Tour of the Native American Art Galleries

Hello SAM fans! My name is Lindsay Baldwin and, I am a (very) recent graduate of Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication as well as in French. My number one passion is traveling. I was lucky enough to have lived in Edinburgh for six months. During breaks, I traveled extensively through Europe. I have visited many museums around the world and if I had to choose one of my favorites (besides SAM, of course!) it would have to be the Van Gogh Museum. I am very excited to be a part of this great museum for the next three months and cannot wait for the challenges that lie ahead.

If you have not yet checked out the Native American art that SAM has to offer, then I suggest that you put a tour of the galleries on your to-do list.

Read More

As Delightful as a Double Rainbow: Summer Interns Sara and Hailey

We’re saying goodbye to the last of our summer interns. Here’s a little about Sara Portesan and Hailey Hargraves’ experience at SAM in their own words. -Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Hailey Hargraves, summer intern at the Seattle Art Museum

SAM’s School & Educator Intern Hailey Hargraves treds lightly on Carl Andre’s Lead-Aluminum Plain.

Hello all! Our names are Hailey Hargraves and Sara Portesan, and we have spent the past three months as interns in the Education Department here at the Seattle Art Museum. In light of our time here, which is sadly coming to an end, we decided to interview each other and give you (the delightful and dedicated reader) a better idea of both ourselves and our roles here at SAM.

Read More

A Day as an Intern at SAM

We’re saying goodbye to the last of our summer interns. Here’s a little about Alex Wade’s experience at SAM in his own words.
-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

By Alex Wade

My alarm goes off at 7:30 am. Of course I hit snooze for those oh so crucial extra five minutes.  Then it’s off to the shower.  I get dressed and walk to the bus stop.  It’s 8:13 am and the 345 arrives a few minutes late like always.  I take my seat and ride to the Northgate Transit Center where I hop on the 41.  I get off at my stop and walk through the tunnel.  As I continue through the tunnel, I can see the light  (figures huh?).  I come out of the tunnel at 2nd and University right in front of SAM. It’s an impressive building and I always feel important as I swipe my card key to get into the employee entrance.  The security guard says, ”Hi Alex” as I sign in and type my pin code into the computer. Then it’s off to the 5th floor, a floor you would never expect existed unless you worked at the museum. A floor where everything that keeps the museum going is thought of, implemented and carried out.

Read More

Dear SAM: A Love Letter From a Summer Intern

Dear SAM,

I usually begin letters more eloquently than this. There’s usually a smooth intro, a “how do you do,” a nifty tidbit about my life. But brutal honesty is all that’s coming to mind now and I think we’re now close enough for that. So here it goes: I am going to miss you immensely. And here’s why…

Read More

SAM Art: Some Thoughts from Our Interns, Part II

For this week’s SAMart, I would like to share with you the reflections of two summer interns I have been lucky enough to work with for the past several weeks. Katie Tieu and Jasmine Graviett have been friendly, thoughtful, conscientious, and eager colleagues this summer, and will be missed when they go back to their “real” lives—as a sophomore and a senior in high school, respectively.
-Sarah Berman, Collections Coordinator and Research Associate

My experience at the Seattle Art Museum    

Jasmine Graviett

You don’t find many 17-year-old girls working/interning at an art museum, but I am one of them.

Hi, my name is Jasmine Graviett and I am a YWCA GirlsFirst intern, which is an all girls program that helps young ladies get through their high school years and this program is how I got my awesome internship at SAM. Working at SAM has helped me see art in a different way and understand more about the art work. At first I wasn’t really all that into art, I only liked art that made sense to me or that I could relate to. Things that looked like a whole bunch of paint splashed on a board or something that looked like a 2-year-old drew it never really appealed to me because I thought that I could make something like that. I mean, what could be so special about that?  This summer I found out there’s a story behind every single painting and that it isn’t always as it seems.

Read More

SAM Art: Some Thoughts from Our Interns, Part I

For this week’s SAMart, I would like to share with you the reflections of two summer interns I have been lucky enough to work with for the past several weeks. Katie Tieu and Jasmine Graviett have been friendly, thoughtful, conscientious, and eager colleagues this summer, and will be missed when they go back to their “real” lives—as a sophomore and a senior in high school, respectively.
-Sarah Berman, Collections Coordinator and Research Associate

My Experience Here At SAM

By: Katie Tieu

My name is Katie, and I am a YWCA GirlsFirst intern. GirlsFirst is an all girls program that teaches us life lessons, how to stay on track in high school, and how to succeed in life. GirlsFirst also helps us get internships by teaching us skills that we need to use to get a job. They taught us many things, like how to type a resume, cover letter, and how to talk properly in an interview. They had a list of jobs for girls to apply for, and I was hired by the Seattle Art Museum to be a Human Resources intern. I am working here for 8 weeks during my summer break, but it’ll be ending soon.

Being here at SAM is very fun and such a great experience. While I was here, I saw and learned how the museum actually operates. I also got to see the exhibitions and the permanent collection here, and what can I say? IT WAS AMAZING. Just by looking at each detail an artist includes is very mind blowing. Like this painting. It was created by Jackson Pollock and is called Sea Change, painted in 1947. Does it look like any ordinary painting that anyone can do? That’s what I thought. But, look closely, every detail you see on the canvas was planned and thought about before it was there.

Read More

Love Takes SAM by Storm

SAM’s hallways recently echoed with joyous shrieks and laughter. Although perhaps a common occurrence, the aura of joy and excitement was not from a new art piece or an exhibition opening or even a Soundsuit…

It was a marriage proposal! A young man named Storm Bennett proposed to his long-term girlfriend Stephanie in the hall of the Seattle Art Museum in a most creative way… Read More

Beauty Shot Fridays: Summertime Sun and Fun

In hopes of procuring more sun from the sky this week, we asked people to send us photos of their summertime fun in the sun. Photos did not have to be of Seattle or from this summer but could be of anything sun- and summer-related. I’ve selected a few of our brightest submissions from last week and written some of my thoughts on them… Read More

Beauty Shot Fridays!

From the PR Office at SAM comes a new and fun project called “Beauty Shot Fridays.” In order to promote Beauty & Bounty and Reclaimed, we are asking our Facebook Fans to send us photos in response to a weekly question that is based on themes in the exhibitions.

We will update our question on the SAM Facebook page every Monday by 3pm and submissions will be uploaded to the page every Friday by 4pm. If you’d like to send a photo submission (captions are welcome too!), please email beautyshots@seattleartmuseum.org

Our question this is week is: where do you find beauty and bounty in your day?

Read More

A SAM Intern’s First Visit to the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery in Fuller Room of Seattle Asian Art Museum for Mandala Demonstration

Within the Fuller room, visiting monks from the Gaden Shartse monastery were creating a mandala and will do so over the next few days. Mandalas are a Buddhist form of sacred art that carry spiritual significance. They are made by layering colored sands in an intricate design which usually relates to the dwelling of a diety. The monks vigorously run one chakpur (a bronze funnel that holds colored sand) over the ridges of another chakpur in order to direct the sand into the design.

Gaden Shartse monk making mandala as part of Seattle Asian Art Museum and Dechenling collaboration

Monk prepping chakpur for mandala making.

Once the design is complete, the monks will sweep the sand into a container which will be placed in moving  water such as a river or ocean. So four days of concentrated, intricate work gone in about thirty minutes. Quite a reminder of beauty and its impermanence.

Gaden Shartse monks using chakpurs and colored sands to make a mandala at Seattle Asian Art Museum in collaboration with Dechenling

Continuing through the museum, I repeatedly viewed objects made of nephrite. Upon later research, I learned that nephrite is one of two kinds of jade and usually comes in shades of green, grey, and brown with varying degrees of translucence. My favorite object was a dragon and tiger plaque, made of nephrite in the Ming period (1368-1644). It’s a decorative object, and it made me think about how there was a time that anything functional was expected to be beautiful, that functionality and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Dragon and tiger nephrite plaque from Ming period at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Dragon and tiger nephrite plaque.

The displays of ceramics, sculptures, and scrolls were lovely and accessible. The labels gave clarity to the objects they described but still left me with room to interpret and understand the works on my own. I most appreciated this when admiring a woman’s robe from China, ca. 1875-1908. The label mentioned that garments in this era were seen as descriptors of one’s true nature as well as indicative of socioeconomic status. I found this idea inspiring and refreshing as much of what I’ve studied with fashion discusses garments as an act of display of wealth or a purposeful effort to control how others’ interpret us, not necessarily as an indication of our nature.

Chinese, woman's robe from 1875-1908 at Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Woman’s robe.

I definitely enjoyed my time at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It’s a manageable museum with space that facilitates easy movement from exhibition to exhibition and that contains a diverse range of work characterized by unique perspectives. I enjoyed something in each exhibition: plaques, robes, kimonos, prints, ceramics, and contemporary prints juxtaposed with sculptures and paintings. I plan on going back there and taking some people I know that will likely enjoy it as well.

Front entrance of Seattle Asian Art Museum with camels and art deco doors.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

 

 

Top photo: First camel ride ever.

Our Summer with SAM

This summer, two very bright and curious high school seniors helped out in the museum’s curatorial division. Milo and Henry spent their summer helping organize our object records, and researching several works in the SAM collection. Here, they write about their experience.
 
SAMBlog