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VoCA Talk: Marie Watt

Photo of a brightly colored quilted textile with tin jingles in the center of the quilt.

Marie Watt, "Butterfly," 2015, reclaimed wool blankets, satin binding, thread, cotton twill tape, tin jingles, 94 x 127 inches. Denver Art Museum: Funds from Vicki & Kent Logan and Loren Lipson, M.D., with additional funds from Brian Tschumper, Nancy Benson, Jan & Mike Tansey, and JoAnn & Bob Balzer. 2016.1. Photograph by Aaron Johanson and courtesy of the artist. ©Marie Watt

On June 15, 2016, artist Marie Watt sat with oral historian James Lancel McElhinney at the Denver Art Museum. Watt draws from history, biography, protofeminism, and Indigenous principles, and uses materials that are conceptually attached to narrative: in particular, exploring the stories connected with commonplace woolen blankets, cedar, and iron. For this Talk, Watt and McElhinney discussed how these intersections of material and meaning manifest in Butterfly (2015) and Blanket Story: Confluence, Heirloom, and Tenth Mountain Division (2013), two works on view at the Denver Art Museum. A transcript of this interview is available upon request.

Marie Watt (b. 1967) is an American artist whose work draws from history, biography, protofeminism, and Indigenous principles, and addresses the interaction of the arc of history with the intimacy of memory. She uses materials that are conceptually attached to narrative: in particular, exploring the stories connected with commonplace woolen blankets, cedar, and iron. Ms. Watt holds an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University, attended Willamette University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and in 2016 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Willamette University. Among other residencies, she has attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; and received fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation. Selected collections include the National Gallery of Canada, The Smithsonian institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and Renwick Gallery, The Tacoma Art Museum, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Facebook, The Seattle Art Museum, and The United States Library of Congress.

James Lancel McElhinney is a visual artist, writer, educator, and oral historian. He has conducted oral history interviews for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Columbia Center for Oral History, The Frick Center for the History of Collecting and the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. McElhinney studied painting at Tyler School of Art, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Yale School of Art, where he earned an MFA. He has exhibited his work in more than forty solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad. McElhinney lives in Manhattan with his wife, art historian Dr. Katherine Manthorne.

Voices in Contemporary Art (VoCA) is a non-profit organization focused on the preservation and stewardship of contemporary art. Please visit www.voca.network to learn more about our mission and programs. If you would like access to the transcript of this VoCA Talk or have any questions, please email: assistant@voca.network.

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VoCA Talk: Marie Watt

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