Cultural imPRINT: Northwest Coast Prints exhibition showcased at Tacoma Art Museum

Art Thompson (b. 1948)
Nuu-chah-nulth, Dit-i-daht First Nation
Not a Good Day, 1993
Screenprint

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) is currently showcasing the vast styles of printmaking by tribal artists in its Cultural imPrint: Northwest Coast Prints exhibit. Reminding us of the local talent and cultural beauty inherent in works by artists from various First Nations and Native tribes along the Pacific Coast, you can take advantage of this special exhibition by visiting TAM now through August 20.

Faith Brower, TAM’s Curator of Western American Art, has partnered with co-curator India Young from Victoria, B.C. to bring together a selection of approximately 46 prints by 30 Coast Salish and Fist Nations artists.

Art Thompson (b. 1948)
Nuu-chah-nulth, Dit-i-daht First Nation
Hy-ish-tup, 1975
Screenprint

“This exhibition is really about how artists create community through their work,” said co-curator India Young. “Artists visualize their nationhood and territory. Cultural knowledge and design are passed from print to print and generation to generation. Prints circulate a sense of belonging.”

Providing a survey of Indigenous artists who have defined six-decades of printmaking in the Pacific Northwest, this exhibition proudly boasts a cultural narrative. Through their prints, these artists share knowledge about the diverse cultures in the region, while sustaining their art and history. Some of this artwork focuses on culturally specific design motifs that can identify a nation or tribe within the region. Others affirm how artists have used the print medium to reexamine the role of women’s histories with Northwest Coast communities. Still other works illuminate the passion of knowledge between generations.

Jeffrey Veregge
Coast Salish, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
Restoration, 2012
Digital print

“What’s fascinating about this exhibition is the various interpretations of cultural symbols,” states co-curator Faith Brower. “These print works connect people in new ways to vibrant Northwest communities.”

Much of the printmaking from the Northwest Coast can be immediately recognized by the high contrast, black and red graphics. Indigenous printmaking in the region continues to be exploratory and innovative while adhering to traditional teachings. Through the print medium artists expand on their visual languages to create works that broaden the scope of Northwest Coast art.

Marika Swan (b. 1982)
Nuu-chah-nulth, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
Become Worthy – State I, 2016 Digital print
“When our people were whaling they prepared their whole lives spiritually to be worthy of a gift as generous as a whale. Everyone in the community had to work in unity to ensure the hunt was successful and done safely. Each whale was such a bountiful offering of food for the community and each part of the whale was utilized and celebrated. As a Tla-o-qui-aht woman there are many large gifts I am hoping to bring home to my community and I understand that I am on a journey to spiritually lay the groundwork so that I am ready when they arrive. Pook-mis, the drowned whaler, lies at the bottom of the sea floor and offers a warning that things can go horribly wrong if you are not properly prepared.” – Marika Swan

Henry Speck (Ozistalis, b. 1908)
Kwakwaka’wakw, Tlowitsis First Nation
Sea Raven –
Gwa wi’s, 1964
Screen Print

Cultural imPRINT: Northwest Coast Prints exhibition showcased at Tacoma Art Museum

Robert Davidson (b. 1946)
Haida First Nation
Untitled (Sara’s Birth Announcement), 1973
Screenprint

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

For generations, Coast Salish and First Nations artists developed visual language made up of colors, lines, shapes and space. These centuries-old designs can be recognized on cultural objects including basketry, carving, blankets and jewelry. When Coast Salish artists began printmaking in the 1960s, they translated their graphic languages onto a flat surface. The reproducible print medium raised visibility for Indigenous arts in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Susan Point and Kelly Cannell
Coast Salish, Musqueam First Nation
Memory, 2005 Screenprint
*This mother-daughter collaboration won the City of Vancouver’s “Art Underfoot” competition in 2004. The design can be found on storm sewer covers throughout the Vancouver area.

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) is currently showcasing the vast styles of printmaking by tribal artists in its Cultural imPrint: Northwest Coast Prints exhibit. Reminding us of the local talent and cultural beauty inherent in works by artists from various First Nations and Native tribes along the Pacific Coast, you can take advantage of this special exhibition by visiting TAM now through August 20.

Faith Brower, TAM’s Curator of Western American Art, has partnered with co-curator India Young from Victoria, B.C. to bring together a selection of approximately 46 prints by 30 Coast Salish and Fist Nations artists.

Ben Davidson (b. 1976)
Haida First Nation
Just About, 2014 Screenprint

“This exhibition is really about how artists create community through their work,” said co-curator India Young. “Artists visualize their nationhood and territory. Cultural knowledge and design are passed from print to print and generation to generation. Prints circulate a sense of belonging.”

Providing a survey of Indigenous artists who have defined six-decades of printmaking in the Pacific Northwest, this exhibition proudly boasts a cultural narrative. Through their prints, these artists share knowledge about the diverse cultures in the region, while sustaining their art and history. Some of this artwork focuses on culturally specific design motifs that can identify a nation or tribe within the region. Others affirm how artists have used the print medium to reexamine the role of women’s histories with Northwest Coast communities. Still other works illuminate the passion of knowledge between generations.

Lyle Wilson (b. 1955)
Haisla First Nation
When Worlds Collide, 1979
Screenprint

“What’s fascinating about this exhibition is the various interpretations of cultural symbols,” states co-curator Faith Brower. “These print works connect people in new ways to vibrant Northwest communities.”

Much of the printmaking from the Northwest Coast can be immediately recognized by the high contrast, black and red graphics. Indigenous printmaking in the region continues to be exploratory and innovative while adhering to traditional teachings. Through the print medium artists expand on their visual languages to create works that broaden the scope of Northwest Coast art.

Ken Mowatt (b. 1944)
Gitxsan First Nation
Legend of the Avenged Flea, 1975
Screenprint

Ken Mowatt (b. 1944)
Gitxsan First Nation
Lynx’ Ooy’, 1980
Screenprint

Surdna Foundation Grant Awarded to Northwest Artist Matika Wilbur

Matika Wilbur grant

 

Source: Tacoma Art Museum

 

Tacoma, WA – Seattle-area photographer Matika Wilbur, Swinomish and Tulalip, in collaboration with Tacoma Art Museum, has been awarded a 2015 Artists Engaging in Social Change grant from Surdna Foundation. The foundation received more than 1000 grant applications, and Wilbur is one of just 15 artists awarded through the program, receiving a grant of $157,000 (the largest award). The grant will support Wilbur’s Project 562, a nation-wide endeavor documenting contemporary Native American culture through photographic portraits and narratives from each federally recognized Native American tribe. Project 562 is the basis for compelling exhibitions, presentations, articles, books, and curricula that creatively surmount stereotypical representations, historical inaccuracies, and the absence of Native American images and voices in mass media and the national consciousness. 

The inaugural exhibition of Project 562 debuted in spring, 2014, at Tacoma Art Museum, receiving rave reviews from museum visitors and in regional and national press. More than 18,000 visitors saw the exhibition. TAM served as Wilbur’s fiscal sponsor, which enabled her to participate in the highly competitive grant program. 

Wilbur’s beautifully rendered portraits and stirring recordings from select sitters examine the Indian image across socioeconomic and intergenerational spectrums, from tribal to hardcore urban, traditional elders to assimilated teens, conveying the diversity among Native communities and individual experiences. Her provocative work exposes the strength and richness of contemporary Native life, and is profoundly shifting consciousness toward Native Americans. The project conveys the cultural diversity among Native communities and individual experiences.

The Surdna Foundation grant is an affirmation of the power of Wilbur’s work. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Surdna Foundation’s support,” Wilbur said. “Their contribution will fundamentally improve our team’s efficiency and dramatically increase public access of Project 562. For hundreds of years, our ancestors have been calling for authentic stories of our people to be told. I believe that Project 562 is being guided and protected by our ancestors, and we raise our hands to the Surdna Foundation as a source of strength and for believing in our mission to change the way we see Native America.”

To date, Wilbur has driven over 150,000 miles across the United States and visited about 300 of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. She has been welcomed into rare experiences and allowed images, voices, and ideas that have never before been represented. 

Rock Hushka, TAM’s Chief Curator, affirms Wilbur’s role as an inspired and unprecedented messenger: “We are grateful to Surdna Foundation for recognizing the quality and power of Matika’s work with this grant award. She has a rare combination of immense creativity, tenacity, and tremendous sensitivity. Project 562 provides crucial cultural understanding, capturing with unparalleled clarity the vibrancy of contemporary culture along with political and social issues of primary concern to Native Americans across the nation. We look forward to a continued relationship with this remarkable artist and future iterations of Project 562.” 

Surdna Foundation’s Artists Engaging in Social Change grants are designed to support individual artists, culture bearers, and nonprofit organizations whose work helps to inform, engage, or challenge people around specific social issues. Projects receiving funds were selected for the quality of the artistic practice and dedication to exploring critical themes that arise from, or impact a community; and for the project’s capacity to enable social change.

Surdna Foundation’s President Phil Henderson commented, “In an era of accelerated and often dramatic social and demographic change, artists and culture bearers play critical roles within our communities helping us understand and challenge pressing issues. Their visions, communicated through film, performance, text, spoken word and other forms can help communities achieve a sense of connectedness and common purpose.”

Image Credit: Matika WilburMary Evelyn Belgarde (Pueblo of Isleta and Ohkay Owingeh), 2014. Digital silver image, 16 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

 

 

 

About The Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. For over five generations, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.  The Foundation’s support arts and cultural projects through its Thriving Cultures grantmaking program which is based on a belief that communities with robust arts and culture are more cohesive and prosperous, and benefit from the diversity of their residents. Surdna believes that artists and cultural organizations can help us explore shared values and spark innovation, imagination and advancement for our communities.
Contact: George Soule, Director of Communications, Surdna Foundation

212.557.0010gsoule@surdna.orgwww.surdna.org

 

Artist Matika Wilbur: 
e: 
m@matikawilbur.com
w: 
www.matikawilbur.com
w: 
www.project562.com

 

About Tacoma Art Museum
Celebrating 80 years, Tacoma Art Museum has become an anchor in the city’s downtown and a gathering space for connecting people through art. TAM’s collection contains more than 4,500 works, with an emphasis on the art and artists of the Northwest and broader American west. The collection includes the world’s largest retrospective museum collection of glass art by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly on continued view; the world’s largest collection of jewelry by Northwest artists; key holdings in 19th century European and 20th century American art; and one of the finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints on the West Coast. TAM recently welcomed a gift of 295 works of Western American art in the Haub Family Collection, one of the premier collections in the nation and the first major western American art museum collection in the Northwest. 
HOURS – Tuesdays–Sundays 10 am–5 pm. 
ADMISSION
 – Adult $14; Student (6-17), Military, Senior (65+) $12; Family $35 (2 adults and up to 4 children under 18). 
Children 5 and under free. 
Third Thursdays free from 5–8 pm. Members always free.
CONTACT – 253-272-4258, http://www.TacomaArtMuseum.org

Art Of The American West Comes To The Tacoma Art Museum

Buffalo At Sunset by John NietoTACOMA ART MUSEUM, HAUB FAMILY COLLECTION

Buffalo At Sunset by John Nieto
TACOMA ART MUSEUM, HAUB FAMILY COLLECTION

 

By Jennifer Wing, KPLU

Images of the American West line the walls of a brand new addition to the Tacoma Art Museum. The collection, a gift from a German family with ties to the Northwest, is a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition that is raising the museum’s profile.

The transformation of the Tacoma Art Museum over the last two years began with a phone call between the museum’s director and the lawyer for Erivan and Helga Haub. The museum was looking for a donation to help with the redesign of its lobby. But Laura Fry with the museum says the Haubs, through their lawyer, made an incredible and unexpected offer.

“He said, ‘Well, would you be interested in their collection of Western American art?’” Fry said.

That conversation resulted in the new 16,000-square foot addition designed by Tom Kundig. It houses four galleries that contain what is now one of the top collections of Western American art in the world. The collection boasts 295 paintings and bronze sculptures, 130 are currently on view. The Haubs also gave money for the construction of the new wing and set up endowments for 10 new positions, including Fry’s, who is the collection’s curator.

 

Albert Bierstadt, Departure of an Indian War Party, 1865

Albert Bierstadt, Departure of an Indian War Party, 1865
CREDIT TACOMA AT MUSEUM, HAUB FAMILY COLLECTION

 

“This is the biggest donation of artwork in the Tacoma Art Museum’s History,” said Fry. “In 79 years of operating, this is our single biggest gift. So this really does transform the institution.”

By this point, you’re probably wondering: Who are the Haubs?

“Erivan and Helga Haub are from Germany. They also have a home here in Tacoma and a ranch in Wyoming,” said Fry.

The Haubs made billions in the grocery store business. They came to the U.S. after World War II and honeymooned near Tacoma. Because the medical care was better here than in Germany at the time, all three of their children were born at Tacoma General Hospital.

In a video produced by the museum, Erivan Haub says his dream of seeing the American West started when he was young and read books by Karl May. The stories glorified the plains Indians of the American West. They were as popular in Germany at the time as the Harry Potter series is today.

“The story of the west I had learned long before I ever came to the west through Karl May who was a famous German author that made me hungry to get to see this and to get to experience it myself. So we made it to America and never regretted one moment of it,” said Haub.

Cinematic images of the American West dominate the Haub collection. Wide open plains, blue skies hanging over mountains and rivers and Native Americans in formal dress.

Fry points to a painting, two feet tall and three feet wide, of a buffalo grazing on the wide prairie. As real and detailed as a photograph, the image by Nancy Glaizer is called Birds of a Feather. This is the first piece the Haubs bought in 1983. It’s the painting that started the collection.

“It shows a group of bison in Yellowstone park,” said Fry.” Here you have this proud bison bull. He’s rendered in this photographic detail. But you have little birds resting on his back. It shows how he’s part of the whole ecosystem even though he’s this giant bull. These little tiny birds are still benefiting from his presence. It’s showing the whole cycle in Yellowstone.”

The Haubs, who are now in their 80s, both lived through WWII and avoided artworks with images of violence. Helga Haub says the couple never started off with a master plan for their art.

“We did not collect with vision of ever giving it to a museum. We only collected what we liked,” she said.

As artworks filled up the walls and shelves in their homes they started purchasing with more guidance from professional galleries. Some of the standout works include Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington. This is the image printed on the dollar bill. It’s from 1791 and is the oldest piece in the collection.

There is also Piñions with Cedar, the museum’s first painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. Fry says the painting of a bare leafed tree in the desert can be used as a bargaining chip.

 

Piñions with Cedar by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1956

Piñions with Cedar by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1956
CREDIT TACOMA ART MUSEUM, HAUB FAMILY COLLECTION

 

“It will give us a greater ability to borrow from other institutions to bring really wonderful works here,” Fry said.

Images and sculptures depicting Native Americans from the Northwest are absent from the collection. To bring the Native American perspective into the fold, the museum is asking prominent native artists to comment on specific pieces in the collection. Their honest, and sometimes critical, reflections are part of the exhibit.

Marvin Oliver, a Seattle-based premier Native American printmaker and sculptor, is thrilled TAM has this collection, but says many of the paintings aren’t historically accurate. To really know what you are seeing Oliver says you need to read the labels to understand the context in which the pieces were made.

“Some people will say, ‘Gee, you know this is really glorifying the noble savage and the beautiful maiden,’ whatever, you know. But you don’t know what the intention is. it kind of puts it in a stereotypical category. It’s up to the museum to document and identify each and every piece that has the correct labeling. And they’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Oliver said.

Over the years Erivan And Helga Haub have supported other Tacoma institutions. They’ve contributed to the Museum of Glass, the LeMay Car Museum and the University of Washington’s Tacoma campus.

In a Seattle Times article about the Haubs in 1994, Erivan foreshadowed what we see today. He told the reporter, “If I construct anything, there it must be extraordinary, something Tacoma can be proud of.”

Re-visioning Native America: Matika Wilbur’s ‘Project 562’ kicks off at Tacoma Art Museum

 

Matika Wilbur’s ‘Project 562’ kicks off at Tacoma Art Museum this weekend

By Rosemary Ponnekanti, The News Tribune

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/05/16/3197717/re-visioning-native-america.html?sp=/99/1683/#storylink=cpy
Courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum

Courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum

When Northwest artist Matika Wilbur was at an airport with her 9-year-old nephew, they happened upon a display case of Swinomish tribal art — their own people. Except the label explained, “The Swinomish were a hunter-gatherer tribe who lived in the Puget Sound region …”

Wilbur’s nephew turned to her, and asked sadly, “Aunty, why does it say ‘we were,’ not ‘we are?’ ”

The answer to that question opens at the Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday. Wilbur, a Swinomish/Tulalip photographer, is unveiling the first part of her “Project 562,” a multiyear, multimedia odyssey to document every recognized Native American tribe in the United States — to show, in fact, the “we are.”

Supported by the museum from the beginning, the project’s nearly halfway done, with 200 out of (now) 566 tribes documented in startling silver gelatin portraits, audio interviews and short films. Around 40 of the portraits will be on view at Saturday’s opening, along with Wilbur herself to give a talk on her journey to turn around the imagery of contemporary Native America.

“When you Google ‘African American’ you get beautiful images of people doing what we do now — kids on swings, businesspeople in suits,” says Wilbur. “If you Google ‘Latino’ or ‘Asian American’, the same. But for Native American, what you’ll find is images of previous centuries.”

That kind of negative, stereotypical imagery, Wilbur adds, affects self-esteem, worsening problems in many tribes of alcohol addiction, drug use and teen suicide.

“As a teacher, I lost a lot of students to suicide,” she says. “I argue that image does affect our consciousness, our children. It’s been proven in studies.”

Four years ago, Wilbur decided to change that imagery.

“I’m hopeful, I believe things can change,” she says. “I thought, what if things could change for young people? What if I could be a part of that? That was my dream, my goal.”

Planning, applying for grants, doing a Kickstarter campaign, contacting tribes and finally driving around the country, she has covered 60,000 miles since November 2012, spending around five days in each place, taking audio and photographic portraits of at least three men and three women in each tribe, thus the name “Project 562.” Along the way she’s raised national media awareness through NBC, NPR, BBC, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, even Buzzfeed.com.

“What I’m attempting to do is to offer a contemporary image that showcases our heroes,” says Wilbur.

And much of the credit goes to the Tacoma Art Museum. With a budget of $500,000 to pay for travel and costs for a book, films and educational curriculum, Wilbur “desperately needed a big institution to put their name on the project.” Most of the institutions she approached either doubted or laughed at the project — except Tacoma.

“(Senior curator) Rock Hushka was like, ‘Let’s do it. I’ll help you. What do you need?’” Wilbur says. “That’s not what museums normally do. They usually borrow your work when it’s finished.”

Wilbur also points out the museum got on board long before they accepted the enormous Haub collection of Western art, much of which comes from that previous-century perspective on native identity.

And so, this weekend, TAM gets to host the inaugural “Project 562” exhibition through October, before it travels to other venues. (The Haub wing opens shortly afterward.)

“‘Project 562’ provides ample evidence of the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary Native Americans,” says Hushka. “Only a photographer of Wilbur’s caliber could capture this with such grace and clarity.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by various lectures, as well as being the centerpiece for the museum’s annual Native Northwest Community Celebration on May 31. A member reception Saturday night will include hoop dancers from Phoenix; singers from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes; a blessing from the Puyallup tribe and more.

Wilbur also is collaborating with fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail (Crow Nation) on a “562” fashion line, which the artist hopes will fund the project into the future. The first items are scarves that double as shawls, with design elements (cedar, cracked earth) that tell stories from different tribes.

What speaks loudest in “Project 562,” however, are Wilbur’s portraits. Shot against desert landscapes, calm Puget Sound waters, city streets or plain walls, they show tough teens, patient elders, cowboys, young women in denim, older women in regalia. And while the background is important — places her subjects felt most tied to — it’s reduced to black-and-white, while the people themselves stand out in color.

Spending up to three hours, Wilbur also interviewed her subjects extensively, diving into their deepest dreams and loyalties.

“I asked them where they grew up, why they stayed or left, about their family and what’s not in the history books about their people,” she says. “Then I talked about more serious things — what does it mean to be a sovereign nation? About assimilation, education, values, wellness, racial stereotypes … and what does it mean to be a member of your community? … That question is important for me, because it grapples with the concept of being ‘Indian enough.’”

While Wilbur’s work asks big questions and has been described as provocative, Wilbur says what matters most is how it attempts to connect actual living Native American cultures with the rest of Western society, reversing the “historical inaccuracies about Indian identity.” It also creates a central location where those cultures have visual representation.

“It’s more about the intimacy of the portraits and the stories they convey,” she says. “It’s also time we allowed our young Native people to see themselves in a positive light. To move beyond poverty porn and give them something hopeful.”

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/05/16/3197717/re-visioning-native-america.html?sp=/99/1683/#storylink=cpy

Special Opportunity to meet the Photographer Matika Wilbur, Feb 16

Wilbur_SelfPort_600x600_72rgb

Matika Wilbur’s Project 562

Kickstarter Finale Celebration
Sunday, February 16, 2 pm
Tacoma Art Museum

Source: Tacoma Art Museum
Matika Wilbur, Seattle artist and member of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes, has taken on the prodigious task of photographing every federally-recognized tribe in the United States and to unveil the true essence of contemporary Native issues. The artistic and spiritual journey called Project 562 has already taken Wilbur on a 1,000-mile adventure across the country.

Join us for an unique opportunity to meet Matika Wilbur as she wraps up the final days of Project 562‘s Kickstarter campaign. Hear stories from the road, learn where she’s headed next, and support this historic undertaking.
Learn more and support the journey on Project 562’s Kickstarter page.

Photographic Proof of Contemporary Indians: Matika Wilbur’s Project 562 opens May 17, 2014 at Tacoma Art Museum.