Two people sitting in front of a huge woven wool blanket collage with a wolf image sewn onto it created by artist Marie Watt

2018 | Companion Species (Underbelly)

Marie Watt

“I am interested in how an underbelly is both the soft fleshy vulnerable part of a body, but also how it is associated with dark hidden areas.  Lately, I have been reflecting on dogs—canis familiars— as pets, mythological guides, and first teachers. Companion Species addresses the reciprocal relationship humans have with canines throughout history, this story is one of ignorance, stewardship and reciprocity.” –Marie Watt

In this new and original body of work, Portland-based artist Marie Watt is considering cultural relationships toward animals and the natural world, from First Teachers within Iroquois oral tradition to representations of La Lupa Capitolina, the Etruscan she-wolf nursing the mythological founders of Rome, Remus and Romulus. The She-Wolf has become her inspiration and companion in the making of this work, offering shelter and protection as envisioned for visitors of the gallery.

Watt’s fiber constructions, sculpture, and prints explore “human stories and rituals implicit in everyday objects.” The wool blanket in particular, rich in social and cultural history, has been one of the artist’s primary materials for over 15 years. She has traced its realm through symbol and metaphor; a painful remembrance of colonialism, and yet, an authentic, tactile symbol of socially-binding collectivism and comfort. Her process is both solitary and collaborative; small works are personal meditations, while larger-scale works are often made in-community, notably in public “sewing circles.” Watt’s own heritage, stemming from both the Seneca Nation and a German-Scot family homestead in Wyoming, informs her interest in cross-cultural conversations, Iroquois proto-feminism and indigenous art forms, as well as 20th century modernist abstraction.

Funding for this exhibition is provided by the Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Endowment and members of the JSMOA.

Born in Seattle, Washington, in 1967, Marie Watt has studied at Willamette University, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and Yale University School of Art. She has exhibited at such venues as the New York Museum of Arts and Design, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, the Seattle Art Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Portland Art Museum, and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. She has received many awards and fellowships and has given lectures at colleges and universities across the country.

LOCATION | The  Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU is located in the Crimson Cube (on Wilson Road across from Martin Stadium and the CUB) on the WSU Pullman campus. The hours of our six galleries are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday. For more information please contact the museum at 509-335-1910.