Like a Hammer, the solo exhibition of contemporary art star Jeffrey Gibson, opens at SAM in about three months! Learn more about his exciting artistic practice from OUT and Architects + Artisans, who both review his solo show This Is the Day, now on view at the Wellin Museum in New York State.
“Not only were women guardians of many aspects of spiritual life, and carriers of the concept of revenge, but there’s evidence they were also warriors, and were buried in high-status graves packed with weapons—a custom previously believed to have been only for men.”
“The single-venue show will be topical in London, which has seen a recent escalation in gang violence. There have been fatal stabbings in Camberwell and Peckham, two neighborhoods that are near Dulwich. Payne says that the violence in Ribera’s art is ‘not gratuitous.’”
Image: Like A Hammer, 2014, Jeffrey Gibson, Mississippi Band Choctaw/Cherokee, b. 1972, elk hide, glass beads, artificial sinew, wool blanket, metal studs, steel, found pinewood block, and fur, 56 × 24 × 11 in., Collection of Tracy Richelle High and Roman Johnson, courtesy of Marc Straus Gallery, New York, image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, photo: Peter Mauney.
The Seattle Times’ Brendan Kiley interviews curator Xiaojin Wu about the new installation Noble Splendor: Art of Japanese Aristocrats. Discussed: An exquisite statue of a two-year-old prince, a 300-year-old clam shell matching game, and the mysterious ballot box stationed outside the installation—and what it will tell us.
“It’s overall not good and not helpful,” said Kimerly Rorschach, director of the Seattle Art Museum, which also oversees the city’s Asian Art Museum. “It makes work more expensive, it constrains the market and thus constrains us in bringing these works to our audiences and educating and promoting the cultural exchange that is the museum’s mission.”
“It’s the great irony of our life,” Ko says. “For the most part, if they’re sweet, we’re just like, ‘get them out of the house’ … If I had somehow gotten into pizza making, then we would be in trouble.”
“Prayer, love, desire, joy, despair, rapture, feminism, Black Power—it is hard to think of a performer who provided a deeper, more profound reflection of her times. What’s more, her gift was incomparable.”
Project 42: Molly Vaughan is featured on The Advocate! Their post includes the SAM-produced video featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Molly Vaughan in her studio and moments from the pop-up performances held throughout the show’s run. Catch the solo exhibition of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award-winner before it closes on Sunday, August 5.
The museum knew it couldn’t present a simple hagiography of Curtis’ work without acknowledging its contradictions. “Double Exposure,” [Barbara Brotherton] said, “isn’t so much about Curtis and Native artists responding to his work as it is about putting them on equal footing.”
“Labor in my work is very important,” she says. “The labor that is put into the works is part of the memorialization. It’s the time that I spend thinking about that person and their story, and about how I’m hosting their spirit while I’m making their garment.”
Don’t miss Rebecca Brown’s feature in the Stranger’s summer A&P, “What Looking at Landscapes Can Do to You,” a review of the current exhibition on view at the Frye Art Museum.
“This art is about looking and being aware that we live on a planet that’s bigger than us that we shouldn’t take for granted. Most of the landscapes don’t have people in them at all—and when they do, they’re small. We need to remember this.”
Following last week’s significant ruling by the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, both Artnet and Hyperallergic reflect on what it means for the art world.
The Art Newspaper previews the Charles White retrospective now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago and later traveling to MoMA and LACMA. A key figure of the Chicago Black Renaissance, White was a mentor to SAM favorite Kerry James Marshall.
Images: Left: Sunset on Puget Sound, 1912, Edward S. Curtis, American, 1868-1952, photogravure on vellum (paper), 11 3/4 x 15 1/2 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of John H. Hauberg, 86.173. Right: Ch’aak’ S’aagí (Eagle Bone), 2018, Tracy Rector, Seminole/Choctaw, b. 1972., video, Seattle Art Museum, 2018 Commission, Courtesy of the artist.
At the center of Project 42: Molly Vaughan stands an elaborate dress with a 25-foot-long train hanging down from the ceiling. Created for the 2017 Betty Bowen Award winner installation at SAM, it is one of artist Molly Vaughan’s most ambitious pieces in the series that will eventually include 42 garments memorializing murdered trans individuals.
Seattle-based artist Molly Vaughan made this particular garment in collaboration with Lesley Dill in memory of Lorena Escalera Xtravaganza. Created using a vintage victorian form for a bustle, the train is covered in a reorganized poem by Emily Dickinson. Lesley Dill selected “The Soul Has Bandaged Moments” and stenciled it by hand as she rearranged the text and broke stanzas.
“Lesley was an inspiration to me and to Project 42,” says Molly Vaughan. “As a docent at the the Orlando Museum of Art I toured a dress of Lesley’s and it left a big impact on me. As a printer, it’s my job to replicate the hand of the artist who intentionally hand-stenciled the text, rather than digitally reproducing it.” Look closely and you’ll see the pen strokes of Lesley Dill’s process. What you won’t see when you visit, is the embroidery on the interior of the garment that Molly has created just for Lorena that is meant to convey her inner life and extravagance.
Lesley Dill says that she works with Emily Dickinson’s text often because “Dickinson’s writing is the door I walked through to become an artist.” After reciting a stanza of this specific poem over the phone she continues to explain: “It’s a gothic poem and speaks of a poetic persona whose identity is haunted and exhilarated. A large part of the entire Project 42 is about the vivacity of life and bandages of the soul. I feel that Lorena and the project are deserving of intensity and multiple layers of meaning.”
Formatted on the train of the garment in the gallery the poem is difficult to read so we’re sharing it here for you.
The Soul Has Bandaged Moments
The Soul has Bandaged moments –
When too appalled to stir –
She feels some ghastly Fright come up
And stop to look at her –
Salute her, with long fingers –
Caress her freezing hair –
Sip, Goblin, from the very lips
The Lover – hovered – o’er –
Unworthy, that a thought so mean
Accost a Theme – so – fair –
The soul has moments of escape –
When bursting all the doors –
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings opon the Hours,
As do the Bee – delirious borne –
Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
Touch Liberty – then know no more –
But Noon, and Paradise
The Soul’s retaken moments –
When, Felon led along,
With shackles on the plumed feet,
And staples, in the song,
The Horror welcomes her, again,
These, are not brayed of Tongue –
– Emily Dickinson1
A large part of Molly’s collaborative process involves asking her collaborators to research the individual being memorialized. The process left Lesley Dill reflecting that “Lorena Xtravaganza was trying to find and name her true self in a world that had no room for this search. Her murder is a catastrophe of culture. Molly is giving us a chance to memorialize individuals who wanted to simply exist inside of their nature. When our culture murders trans people, I feel our belief in human goodness is wounded. With Molly’s work we are given new faith, we are reinvesting in faith.”
Find your faith renewed in humanity with a visit to Project 42. If you are looking for another reason to come, the garment created for Lorena Escalera Xtravaganza includes an interactive element where visitors are invited to tie fabric flowers to the train. Visit often if you hope to catch one of the unannounced performances that will take place in the galleries.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist & Social Media Manager
“Few have the opportunity to travel around the country to view all of the important and compelling museum exhibitions featuring work by African American artists. While there is no substitute for seeing art in person, exhibition catalogs are the next best thing.”
The solo exhibition of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award winner is now on view! Margo Vansynghel of City Arts interviewed the artist for this feature story.
“I don’t want to only talk about myself,” Vaughan says when we meet to talk about the Betty Bowen Award and the associated show. “The project is about raising awareness about what’s happening: Last year was the most dangerous year on record for trans people, and specifically for womxn of color. Over 92 percent of trans people killed are trans people of color. That intersectionality is important.”
My older brother was in a production of “Into the Woods.” He was in 6th grade or something like that, but it was the first time I saw the curtain rise to expose this world of the imagination and I was like, “Oh my god! This is what I should be doing! This is it!’
“The Black Panthers were very aware of the power of imagery and of the effects of repetition,” Kudumu says. “The key markers and unifying aesthetic were always present, as a constant reminder of who they were and what they stood for.”
“They were talismans and memorials; expressions of reverence to his ancestors; objects intended to create hope and to keep his family safe. They bring African and European cultural pasts together, rejecting the binaries of West and non-West. Indeed, they represent something like a loose roadmap for the future of humanity, offering some clues for how we might face the twin threats of technological and ecological crisis.”
The solo exhibition of Molly Vaughan, winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award, is now on view. Project 42 raises awareness of a persistent pattern of extreme violence against transgender people by commemorating 42 murdered individuals. The show was recently highlighted by both City Arts and Seattle Weekly.
“When Molly Vaughan accepted the Betty Bowen Award at the Seattle Art Museum, she opted not to speak about her own work, as is custom. Instead, she invited three local artists with Native heritage to memorialize Fred Martinez, Jr., a trans-identified Navajo teen who was murdered in Cortez, Colo., in 2001.”
“If the flower in the vase of the 1925 black-and-white gelatin silver print ‘A Shirley Poppy’ could speak, it might say, My heart is wide open. I’ve unfurled my petals so you can see it all. Tracing the valleys of light within the crepe-like petals, one imagines photographer Ella McBride responding from behind her single-lens reflex camera, I notice you.”
The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice—“the first public museum and memorial to the victims of racial terror in the US”—will open next week in Alabama.
“There is still so much to be done in this country to recover from our history of racial inequality,” says Bryan Stevenson, the founding director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which spearheaded the project. “We can achieve more in America when we commit to truth-telling about our past.”
He doesn’t do it for the gram—or the Pulitzer. But this was all of us when rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar won the prestigious award this week.
– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations
Image: Installation view of Jono Vaughan: Project 42 at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman.
“One thing I always try to do in my choreography is to make the dancers as human as possible. I want the audience to be able to relate to them as people, as opposed to classical 18th-century ballet figures.”
“It hurts because those Birmingham girls, often commemorated in what look like class portraits, could have been goofy, self-conscious, bookish, or disobedient. Maybe they didn’t even want to go to church that day; maybe one had a sore throat. They were kids.”
Boom for real! SAM announced last week that a famed and rarely seen painting by legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is headed to the museum beginning March 21. The Seattle Times shared the news, and KUOW’s The Record hosted a conversation about the painting’s rarity and impressive auction price with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman and City Arts’ Margo Vansynghel.
“To tell you that these paintings made my heart sing would be an understatement. I found it truly uplifting to see Seattle Art Museum center black people—especially black women—and their stories with art that includes, but isn’t limited to, slavery, black suffering and black oppression.”
“We’ve become de-sensitized to violence, and violence against the trans community in particular,” Vaughan said. “Project 42 is an opportunity to share space with that life that was lost, engage with each other, and elevate the discussion. I feel really humbled to be a part of it.”
“Perry juxtaposes the shallowness of our media-saturated lives with the power of true art and properly held memory. If we carried the bloodstained Atlantic that Turner painted in our hearts, maybe we could address the crimes and wrongs of the present. Yet forgetfulness is winning. There is a typhoon coming on.”
“A higher profile, innovative art museum scene coalesces well with a rapidly growing local economy and world tech hub. Just like Engineer’s professional and educational background is a fusion of many worlds, with Engineer’s help, Seattle too will become a fusion of technology, business and art.”
Emily Pothast of the Stranger reviews C. Davida Ingram’s solo showA Book with No Pages, now on view at UW’s Jacob Lawrence Gallery, saying it “doesn’t just imagine that love. It’s a portal to a world where it has always existed.”
Hope you enjoyed your bubbly and takeout for the Oscars last night. Mekado Murphy of the New York Times shares how four artists approached creating alternative posters for Get Out, the film which earned its writer/director Jordan Peele the award for best original screenplay.
Molly Vaughan, winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award, comes from an academic background, however the background noise of a visit to her studio is the sound of a sewing machine. Vaughan is embroidering Four Corners, a poem written by one of her collaborators, Natalie Ann Martinez onto the fabric she will use to make the sleeves for her current garment in the ongoing series, Project 42. Though she didn’t study textile art, Molly Vaughan’s recent work includes the production of colorful and carefully crafted, hand-made garments.
Project 42 is named for the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the United States. The age 42 is based on Vaughan’s own research since no official study can currently verify the average life expectancy of trans people. The National Transgender Survey was conducted two years ago and will be published soon as the most comprehensive analysis of the transgender community, Vaughan tells us.
For each work in the series, the artist designs a garment that begins with an image of a murder location, which is digitally manipulated to create an abstract textile print. The garment is then activated by a collaborator or by the audience and visitors to the installation, as it will be when installed at SAM for Molly Vaughan: Betty Bowen Award Winner, in April 2018. Molly Vaughan describes this practice as rooted in the belief of labor as memorialization and in the physical object as tribute.
Help us celebrate the 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner during the Award Ceremony and Reception on November 9 featuring a collaborative performance memorializing Fred Martinez Jr. by Natalie Ann Martinez, Catherine Uehara, and Amanda Pickler, and a talk by this multi-talented artist.
Heavier than it looks, this top includes fabric from every garment Molly Vaughan has made. This is the only piece Molly has made for herself and she intends for it to continue to grow.
SAM: Tell us how Project 42 got started.
Molly Vaughan:Project 42 began as a with a grant from Art Matters Foundation. I proposed a series of painting that were abstract paintings of locations where trans people had been murdered. Many people don’t want to have conversations about violence against trans people. Most people don’t know what abstract painting is about. They don’t know the history and the conceptual violence behind it. I wanted to use abstract painting to speak to that idea of something misunderstood, which ‘transness,’ I think, is very misunderstood.
How did you begin working with textiles?
The paintings were too static. They weren’t memorializing the individual in the way that I wanted them too. For a long time, I’d been talking to a dancer about collaborating, and I reached out to her to ask if I printed this pattern on fabric and made a garment, would she dance in it? That’s where it began. I stepped outside of my boundaries to make something outside of my traditional production and comfort zone.
How did do you decide how to abstract these geographical locations? Is there a specific school of abstraction or artists you’re influenced by as you create the patterns?
It’s responsive. Sometimes the patterns start with colors from photographs like skin tones or colors of clothing. Sometimes the patterns utilize screenshots of Google Earth street views where someone was murdered. They each include some type of symbolic action. In one garment many layers of lines are combined to form the pattern, each with 105 lines, a reference to the room number the individual was murdered in. There is also the design content—creating something that is visually appealing as a way to pull people into a discussion that they don’t recognize they want to have.
What role do your collaborators play in the creation of the garment?
I think of myself as the director of the project. The collaborators can engage in any type of action that they wish to share but we work closely to make sure that their memorialization is respectful and considered. Sometimes I do performance work too but I try not to be the focus. The last one was the result of a requirement by Anna Conner that couldn’t be facilitated unless the dress was cut off of her. Then I began to recognize the symbolic significance of sewing the dress back together as part of the performance. So that’s what we did.
The activations of these garments have taken place across multiple continents. Are these connected to the murder locations or otherwise location specific?
One of the original goals of the project was to offer stolen opportunities to the spirits of the people who were murdered. And an original conceptual element was the idea of travel. The first garment I made went to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to be performed in by Emily Navara who wore the dress to her favorite park in the city. The second dress was sent to New York City and my friend Mia D’Avanza went to her favorite swing dancing club wearing it after sharing a large meal with her friends.
As a white artist, it would be inappropriate for me to dictate how the majority of these people are memorialized because the majority of these people are people of color. Though one part of my identity represents a shared experience, my experiences are so different than many of these individuals because of the intersectionality of their identities. This is more about the retuning of humanity and the sharing of missed opportunities. Eating at a cafe in Rome in one of these garments is a symbolic gesture, but is a symbolic gesture focused on the humanity of individuals who were treated so inhumanely.
Work in progress for collaboration with Natalie Ann Martinez. Inkjet printed cotton poplin, antique lace, Navajo Churro sheep wool.
Will the installation at SAM in April include performance?
The installation at SAM will include three or four new pieces. They will be more sculptural since they will be on display for such a long period. The center piece will be a collaborative sculpture that visitors can contribute to by tying or manipulating fabric that has been prepared for them that will then be either sewn on to the garment by me or may actually be tied onto the garment by the museum goers themselves.
I’m pretty emotionally overwhelmed by the idea that to create these new pieces since the process requires me to immerse myself in the murders. I select who to memorialize by looking at the photographs of the individuals, and allowing them to step forward and ask, to speak to me. You have to get into a certain space to do that.
How much research do you do about these people’s lives or is it just the incident of their murder?
The amount of available information is dictated by the size of a person’s community. I want to treat everybody the same, so I decided not reach into, or out to, the communities the people were directly from. In some ways that sounds a little wrong, and in some ways, it is. But some of these individuals were prominent and well-known, and others nobody knew. I want to make sure everybody is treated with the same level of compassion, care, and respect no matter who they were.
Fred Martinez Jr., who we’re memorializing at the Betty Bowen Awards Ceremony and Reception, has had a documentary made about him (all research points to Fred’s use of male pronouns). How do I give the same amount of attention and respect to every individual? There’s also the question of me, as a stranger, impacting family and friends by revisiting the murder of their loved ones. This is not an easy project. And at times the critiques I place upon myself of how the project functions almost stops the process, but then another murder occurs, and I question how can I help to stop this violence. Raising awareness is important but so is considering the roles that we may all play in the larger questions of institutionalized violence, particularly against people of color.
Work in progress from a series re-creating every drawing in “The Drawings of Francois Boucher” by Alastair Lang.
What else are you working on?
I just wrapped up Safety in Numbers for Disjecta in Portland. It’s focused on anonymity and its relationship to safety for myself as a trans person. I create anonymity for myself by turning people into clones of me through physical haircuts. I’ve done this twice now and in both cases, the haircut selected was based on a contemporary trend. This time it was the tasseled bob. The bob, in a historical context addresses notions of gender identity and freedom of gender cultural constructs.
In addition to that I’m working on a series of drawings and etchings. I’m re-creating every drawing in The Drawings of Francois Boucher by Alastair Lang and inserting trans bodies as a way to create a visual history for myself, which doesn’t exist. We know that trans people did exist, and in some cases, had very prominent roles in courts. I’m creating this history for myself through these drawings and they also include anamorphic creatures that I’ve been using for a number of years that hint to the disorientation that I had growing up about my identity.
– Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, Content Strategist & Social Media Manager
Last Friday, SAM announced that Molly Vaughan is the winner of the 2017 Betty Bowen Award; The Stranger and Seattle Gay Scene shared the news. Deborah Lawrence and Ko Kirk Yamahira also won Special Recognition Awards. Join us for a free award ceremony honoring all the winners on Thursday, November 9 at the Seattle Art Museum. Vaughan’s installation premieres at SAM on April 21, 2018.
UW’s School of Art + Art History + Design and the Jacob Lawrence Gallery announced this week that artist C. Davida Ingram is the recipient of the 2018 Jacob Lawrence Legacy Residency. Go, Davida!
This fall, the Office of Arts & Culture brings you the Seattle Center Sculpture Walk, featuring eight temporary installations—including one from our recent Emerging Arts Leader Intern, Kalina Chung. Go, Kalina!
Hyperallergic on We the People, now on view at the M in Minneapolis, featuring “pieces that grapple not only with American identity but with an all-out call for revolution.” Molly Vaughan is one of the exhibition’s artists (hey, we know her!).
Could be that first bit of fall chill in the air, but I enjoyed this Artnet article—inspired by a show on view at Bowdoin College Museum of Art—on the art historical roots of memento mori.
Ezra Jack Keats’s bestselling children’s book The Snowy Day has charmed generations—and now its hero, Peter, will be featured on U.S. Postal Service Forever stamps.
Crayola debuted “Bluetiful,” its new hue inspired by chemist Mas Subramanian’s accidental pigment discovery. Bliss out on the magic of crayon-creation with this Sesame Street throwback.