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Marie Watt, Engine (2009). Hand-felted wool, wood, three-channel video projections. 9 x 20 x 13 ½ feet.
Marie Watt, Engine (2009). Hand-felted wool, wood, three-channel video projections. 9 x 20 x 13 ½ feet.

June 30–October 7, 2012

Northwest Artist Marie Watt Brings Blankets, Stories, and Communities to Life.

Marie Watt (Seneca) is a nationally recognized Portland mixed media artist whose work explores human stories and ritual implicit in everyday objects.Marie Watt: Lodge, is a mid-career retrospective of her work at Tacoma Art Museum from June 30 through October 7, 2012. The title of the exhibition,Lodge, refers to space of welcome; at its center is a hearth, a place where stories are shared. A blanket can become a lodge, a cave, a fort. A lodge can be both migratory and fixed: one comes home to a lodge, and can bring a lodge along to create home in new places. A lodge at once symbolizes the old, the grounded, and the possibility of relocation and reframing.

Marie Watt employs ordinary things to elicit the extraordinary everyday stories of human experience. Her work is simultaneously grounded in Native American art traditions and social history, 20th-century modernist abstraction, and the rich, communal practices of American sewing bees and quilting circles. She is a practitioner of “social sculpture,” a formulation first associated with the German artist Josef Beuys (1921–1986) in the 1960s that holds that art should be participatory and has the power to effect transformations in the self and society. Watt invites the viewer to participate not only in the creation of the work but in the creation of personal and community meaning.

For the past decade, Watt has worked as a mixed media artist whose work explores human stories and the ritual implicit in everyday objects. Organized by anthropology professor and faculty curator Rebecca Dobkins, Lodge will feature a range of work from the past decade, including stacked blanket sculptures, portrait blankets of Jim Thorpe, Ira Hayes, Susan B. Anthony, and Joseph Beuys, and Engine, a felt cave-like structure that honors the act of storytelling and the storytellers in the artist’s life.

Born in Seattle, Washington in 1967 and raised in Redmond, Washington, Watt received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications and Art from Willamette University in 1990. She went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Yale University in 1996 and has enjoyed a highly successful career as an artist, teacher, and storyteller. She has been featured in countless solo and group exhibitions over the past 15 years and is included in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States.

Organized by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, Marie Watt : Lodge has been supported in part by an endowment gift from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, through their Spirit Mountain Community Fund. Additional support has been provided by grants from the Ford Family Foundation, the City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax funds and the Oregon Arts Commission. Support for the presentation at Tacoma Art Museum has been provided by KeyBank Foundation and Union Bank.