Marie Watt

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Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Cousin Rose, Four Pelts, and Sky Woman, 2005
Each approximately 20″ x 20″ x 180″
Stacked and folded wool blankets, salvaged cedar.
Installation view, Hoffman Gallery, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon.

We are received in blankets, and we leave in blankets. The work in these rooms is inspired by the stories of those beginnings and endings, and the life in between. I am interested in human stories and rituals implicit in everyday objects. Currently I am exploring the history of wool blankets. I find myself attracted to the blanket’s two- and three-dimensional qualities: On a wall, a blanket functions as a tapestry, but on a body it functions as a robe and living art object. Blankets also serve a utilitarian function. As I fold and stack blankets, they begin to form columns that have references to linen closets, architectural braces, memorials (The Trajan Column), sculpture (Brancusi, for one), the great totem poles of the Northwest and the conifer trees around which I grew up. In Native American communities, blankets are given away to honor people for being witnesses to important life events – births and comings-of-age, graduations and marriages, namings and honorings. For this reason, it is considered as great a privilege to give a blanket away as it is to receive one.

Blankets hang around in our lives and families – they gain meaning through use. My work is about social and cultural histories imbedded in commonplace objects. I consciously draw from indigenous design principles, oral traditions, and personal experience to shape the inner logic of the work I make. These wool blankets come from family, friends, acquaintances and secondhand stores (I’ll buy anything under $5). As friends come over and witness my blanket project in progress, I am struck by how the blankets function as markers for their memories and stories.

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Blanket Stories: Cousin Rose, Four Pelts, Sky Woman and Relations, 2004
Each approximately 20″ x 20″ x 212″
Stacked and folded wool blankets, salvaged cedar.
Installation view, National Museum of the American Indian, New York, New York.

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Totem: Blue Four-point, Lavadour and First-born, 2004
27″ x 27″ x 94″
Bronze, wool blankets, salvaged red cedar.
Jeri L. Waxenberg Collection

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Installation, Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, 2006
Various dimensions
Reclaimed wool, bronze, salvaged cedar, salvaged fir
Includes: Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Cousin Rose, Four Pelts, Sky Woman and All My Relations, 2006; Almanac: Glacier Park, Granny Beebe and Satin Ledger, 2005; Canopy (Odd One), 2005; and Canopy (Omphalos), 2005.

http://mkwatt.com

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