The way we hammer art

without a nail

Jonathan Borofsky’s Hammering Man was installed right in front of the Seattle Art Museum, in 1991. Hammering Man is a series of monumental sculptures situated in different cities and was created in honour of the working class women and men of the world.

Daedalus/Upliftment, 2016
Acrylic, gold leaf, spray paint on canvas
Fahamu Pecou

Double Elvis, 1963/1976
Silkscreen in, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Andy Warhol

Caterpillar Suit 1, 2007
Anodized brass wire
Walter Oltmann

Untitled, 1982
Acrylic, spray paint and oil stick on canvas
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Warhol/Basquiat, NYC August 1986
wowe (Wolfgang Wesener)

Wood, metal, ivoyr
Late Qing dynasty (1644-1991) or Republican period (1850-1920)

Leda and the Swan, probably after 1915 and before 1923
Oil on canvas
John Covert

Morning, probably 1933
Oil on burlap
Morris Graves

Morning is a deeply affecting image of retreat, of the pain of facing the light, of the fear of facing the day.

Catfish clan figure, 19th-20th century
Wood, polycrhome
Melanesian, Papua New Guinea, Guam River Region, probably Breri or Igana people

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018

The way we dream in the digital age

In Japanese

Red-Eyed Tribe, 2000
Digital ink-jet print
Chiho Aoshima, b. 1974

With no formal training in art, Chiho Aoshima made her debut as an artist with a series of digital prints that were created by her masterful use of Adobe Illustrator. Originally designed as an advertisement for an Issey Miyake fashion show, this work features red-eyed nymphs in a fantasy land. 

”A member of Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki collective, Chiho Aoshima is part of a group of young Japanese artists whose work investigates-and indeed is fueled by-Japan’s obsession-inducing anime and manga culture. Aoshima uses Macintosh illustration software to produce cartoon-like images that merge traditional elements of Japanese art with the latest computer design techniques. This large digital print appropriates the traditional Japanese handscroll format to create a surreal landscape of biomorphic shapes, flying caterpillars and inverted mountains. Aoshima’s world is inhabited by red-eyed females in contemporary (circa 2000) Japanese fashions, infusing the cult of cuteness with a slightly more sinister subtext.”

The digital print is 19 5/8 x 138 in. (49.8 x 350.5 cm). You can see it in full length here.

Source: SAM Collection

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018

The way we go

in style, if it’s the last thing we do.

Coffin, 1991
Wood, paint
Kane Quaye, Ghana, 1922-1992

Kane Quaye was a carpenter who decided that a coffin could be more than a rectangular box. He began sculpting coffins in the 1980s, using fanciful forms that evoke memories of the deceased – his innovation was quickly a success in Ghana. 

”When death strikes in Ghana, those who can afford to choose a coffin, organize feasts and hire orchestras whose music helps see off the deceased in style.  Mourning turns to celebration as the coffin is carried to all the places that the deceased would want to say goodbye to.  Praise salutes, blessings, prayers and hymns fill the air as the coffin is taken to a burial site.  This manner of acknowledging death is one of many that involve art. In some communities, a figure memorializing or in honor of the deceased is buried or burned, concluding one phase of the grieving process.  In other communities, a portrait keeps the person’s image and memory alive forever.  Certain artists depict death by capturing reactions to its news; others create imaginary visions of its presence.”

Source: SAM Collections

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018

The way we disappear

Blending in / Standing out

1/ Three Beauties: Kayo of Kyoto, Hitotsuru of Osaka, Kokichi of Tokyo, 1877
Woodblock print, ink and colour with metallic pigments
Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1847-1915
Meiji period, 1868-1912

There is a poem card above on the right, decorated with gold flakes, and inscribed with a haiku, which reads:

Oh to see moon and snow together
In the mountain of cherry blossoms

Works by Australian Aboriginal Artists: photos 2/ to 5/

2/Untitled, 1997
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Yala Yala Gibon Tjungurrayi

3/Untitled: Munglipa, 2014
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
George Tjungurrayi

4/Swamps West of Nyirripi, 2006
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Ngoia Napaltjarri Polland

5/Yuparli (Bush Banana), 1993
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Dorothy Napangardi

6/- end
Project 42: Jono Vaughan 
Seattle -based artist Jono Vaughan’s series Project 42 addresses the pattern of violence against transgender people in the United States, providing both a form of memorialization and an entry point for engagement and discussion. Begun in 2012, the project’s name is taken from the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the United States, which the artist estimates is forty-two years, based—in lieu of official census data, which excludes trans identities—on third-party texts and research. Eventually the artist plans to make forty-two individual works.

Each of the three dresses in this exhibition memorializes the life and death of a transgender person who was murdered: Myra Ical, Deja Jones, and Lorena Escalera Xtravaganza. Vaughan alters images of the murder locations and turns them into abstract textile prints, which she then sews into a garment. The style of the garment is inspired by the life and history of the individuals. A collaborator wears each dress in a performance that commemorates and celebrates the individual, an act that Vaughan describes as “the returning of humanity and the sharing of missed opportunities.”

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018

The way we are

Our masks, our layers, our foolishness, our empathy, our togetherness.
The way we communicate, our body language, how we look at ourselves, at each other.
The way we love, we live, we exist. The way we are. Humanity.

Njenje (Walkabout) 

Njenje is a parade that involves virtually an entire village’s population. It opens the first day of a Dry Season Festival, a time Afikpo say is ”our Christmas”, when rich meals, visits and ceremonies prevail. Men create elaborate appearances by borrowing cloth and jewelry from sisters, wives, lovers and friends who eagerly await the parade. Secrecy from women and uninitiated men is strictly enforced throughout the dressing process. This adds to the suspense of the audience who watch players stroll through the village as masked unmarried girls, as Europeans, as Muslims and children. How well they imitate feminine guile in their stride and costume – or suggest a schoolteacher, minister, lawyer or office clerk – is a test of the persuasive skills of the men who put the parade together.

For details about the different masks please check this page.

The weird figures made of piles of fabric, hair, beads and sweaters are Soundsuits, 2006, by Nick Cave

The last round gloomy mask is a female Goli mask of Kplekple, 20th century, from Ivory Coast, Africa.

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018


An Ooh Oaah…! moment


The First People, 2008
Red and yellow cedar
Susan Point

Drum with skull painting, 1991
Animal hide, acrylic, wood, bone
Susan Point

Mirror rack
Lacquer, bronze and cord
Japanese, 18th century
Edo period, 1603-1868

Seated figure, ca. 600-800
Ceramic and resin
Mexican, Veracruz

Crocodile headdress
Wood, skin, basketry
Nigerian/Cameroonian, Cross River, Ejagham

Seattle Art Museum

June 15th, 2018