Marie Watt is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Born in 1967 to the son of Wyoming ranchers and a daughter of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation (Iroquois / Haudenosaunee) Watt identifies herself as "half Cowboy and half Indian." Formally, her work draws from indigenous design principles, oral tradition, personal experience, and Western art history. Her approach to art-making is shaped by the proto-feminism of Iroquois matrilineal custom, political work by Native artists in the 60s, a discourse on multiculturalism, as well as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Like Jasper Johns, she interested in "things that the mind already knows." Unlike the Pop artists, she uses a vocabulary of natural materials (stone, cornhusks, wool, cedar) and forms (blankets, pillows, bridges) that are universal to human experience (though not uniquely American) and noncommercial in character.
Marie Watt is represented in Portland, Oregon by Jane Beebe at PDX Contemporary Art and in Seattle by Greg Kucera Gallery.
Posted on 04 Feb 2012
Lodge opened at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon today. I am not yet there; my husband and I welcomed our daughter Evelyn into the world last week and of course I couldn't travel. But I will be at the museum on Friday, March 9, for a public conversation with the show's curator, Rebecca J. Dobkins, and my friend and reluctant mentor, James Lavadour. I'll also host a sewing circle in conjunction with the University's 10th annual Pow Wow on Saturday, March 10. I hope to see everybody I know at both events.
Lodge is a mid-career retrospective featuring a couple of installation pieces not yet seen on the west coast: Engine, which I made in collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, and Dwelling, made for the No Reservations show at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Richfield, Connecticut. There is new work as well.
I am delighted and honored to be showing this work at Willamette – which as you may know is my undergraduate alma mater – and doubly so to have worked with the redoubtable Rebecca Dobkins, John Olbrantz, and their superb staff. The Hallie Ford Museum was only the Hallie Ford Gallery when I was a student: these people have done a remarkable job of transforming the institution into a regional hub for arts and culture. Anyway, I can't wait to get home to the Northwest. This is going to be fun.
Posted on 06 Jun 2011
The photojournalist Alexia Beckerling made a lovely little film about my exhibit Heirloom, which hung at the Missoula Art Museum back in 2009. I didn't know it had been uploaded to Vimeo until now. Many thanks, Alexia.
Posted on 13 May 2011
I was touched and honored to be selected as the featured artist at this year's installment of ArtBeat, Portland Community College's annual arts festival. I taught there for several years after I finished graduate school; and it was there that I met and learned from Bob Dozono, one of my first and most important mentors. I am a huge fan of the community college system in general, and Portland's in particular: it seems to me to come closest to the ideal Joseph Beuys' Free International University. It's not quite free, but it is affordable. And if you're willing to work a bit, you can get as good or better an education there as anywhere.
Posted on 01 Jan 2011
I'm happy to announce that I've received a commission from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make a site-specific piece for their new global campus, currently under construction near the Seattle Center.
Blanket Stories: Matriarch, Guardian and Seven Generations will be a 14-foot-tall column of wool blankets, and will be sited in the campus' greeting area. It's the first column I've made with the explicit goal of collecting and integrating blankets from around the world, echoing the Foundation's global mission; the column will be constructed of reclaimed blankets and reclaimed cedar, in resonance with the campus' goal of attaining LEED Gold certification.
We should install in mid- to late May 2011. If you'd like to donate a blanket, let me know: as always, I'll trade you the blanket for a small, silkscreened print.
Posted on 16 Dec 2010
I haven't seen it yet, because I hate hearing myself talk, but my husband tells me that the segment OPB's Oregon Art Beat actually makes me sound like I know what I'm doing. (He was much more complimentary, actually.) At any rate, I'm grateful to producer Bruce Barrow for his interest and his patience, and delighted to be part of such an excellent program. (By the way, my husband has also been on the show, four years ago.)