Until the mid-1800s, portraits were generally a privilege reserved for the upper class; symbols of their wealth and social status. Today, portraits are created by cartoonists at county fairs and social media users constantly upload selfies to their online profiles. Sitting for History: Exploring Self-Identity through Portraiture delves into this shift and examines how our use of portraiture has drastically changed over the years.
On view August 3, 2013 through January 12, 2014, the exhibition includes more than 60 works selected from the museum’s collection and explores ways that our public and private identities are created by ourselves and by others.
Sitting for History includes everything from paintings by Pierre August Renoir, Sir Henry Raeburn, and Ebba Rapp to portraits by Chuck Close, William Cumming, and Dorothy Dolph Jensen, the photography of Steve Davis and Mary Randlett, sculpture by Dan Webb, jewelry by Ken Cory and Kiff Slemmons, and glass art by Walter Lieberman.
“In our social-media-driven environment, people are facing issues with controlling their public image,” said Margaret Bullock, Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions at Tacoma Art Museum. “This exhibition challenges people to take a minute and contemplate the hows and whys of portraits both past and present to help us better understand the images that others share of themselves and how we choose to depict ourselves.”
Visitors will have the chance to sit at a drawing table in the gallery and sketch their own portraits or those of friends and family with the help of a mirror and frame attached to the table. Visitors are also encouraged to make digital portraits at the table using their camera phones and then upload them to Twitter or Facebook tagged with #SittingForHistory.
Painting with Pastels and Sipping Summer Iced Teas
Saturday, August 24, 11 am
Come try your hand at pastels with an entry level self-portrait workshop. Learn basic techniques and use a mirror or bring photos of yourself to create your self portrait. Enjoy a variety of summer teas while you create your pastel masterpiece. Cost: $35 ($25 for members), includes all supplies and admission for one adult with or without a child. Cost of admission for each additional child is $10. tickets
Show us Your Identity: Create a Portrait Third Thursday Activity
September 19, 5–8 pm
Practice creating self portraits in honor Sitting for History: Exploring Self-Identity Through Portraiture. Bring photos from home to use as inspiration or borrow a mirror from us. We’ll help install your portrait on our community art wall or you can take your masterpiece home.
Cost: Free as part of Third Thursday.
Artist Lecture: Steve Davis
Saturday, October 12, 1:30 pm
Join us as nationally recognized photographer Steve Davis shares his motivation and personal insights about his work. He’ll explain why he chose to work with portraits and how he selects his subject matter. You’ll also learn about the portraits in his Captured Youth series that are featured in Sitting for History: Exploring Self-Identity through Portraiture. Cost: $15 ($10 for members, $5 for students). tickets
Show us Your Identity: Create a Mask Third Thursday Activity
October 17, 5–8 pm
Create a mask showcasing your identity as we gear up for Halloween. We’ll help install your portrait on our community art wall or you can take your masterpiece home. Cost: Free as part of Third Thursday.
Sitting for History: Exploring Self-Identity through Portraiture was organized by Tacoma Art Museum with generous support from Union Bank.