Pioneer Square and downtown galleries and the Seattle Art Museum are open late for First Thursday Art Walk. The Seattle Art Museum is even free of charge after 5pm. Here are our top five things to see and do at Art Walk May 2018.
Figuring History and Jono Vaughn’s Project 42 at Seattle Art Museum
These are the final weeks of SAM’s major exhibition of artists Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall and Mickalene Thomas, Figuring History. All three artist works in large format to depict complex, dense, referential and allegorical scenes and subjects. All three challenge dominant historical narratives and representation, especially of black bodies, lives and imagination. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is a perfect opportunity.
Meanwhile, Betty Bowen award-winning artist Jono Vaughn has just debuted a solo exhibition of works from Project 42, an ongoing series of art objects and performances. Vaughn creates dresses and other soft sculptures with printed patterns made from satellite images of locations where transpeople have been murdered. These objects are then incorporated into performances with collaborators. The number 42 refers to the average lifespan of transpeople in America, who are disproportionately targeted for deadly hate crimes (especially transpeople of color).
Vaughn’s objects are colorful and seem more joyful before one looks more closely and understands the sobering reality that informs them. It’s vital viewing.
SAM is open until 9pm on Thursdays.
Ann Wolff Trap or Transit at Traver Gallery
Luminous new cast glass sculptures from Ann Wolf use the repeating and reversible form of staircases to meditate on space, time, light and form. The transparency of glass begins to muddle the notions of in and out, up and down. Beautiful in their well-crafted simplicity, they can stop one in one’s tracks and put one in a reverie quite easily.
Maïmouna Guerresi Aisha in Wonderland at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery
The photography, sculpture and video of Maïmouna Guerresi in her solo Aisha in Wonderland takes one on a journey at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery. Her large, vertical portraits use elaborate costumes and staging to place seemingly giant figures in a sort of spaceless space. This is a common technique in Guerresi’s work, but she ups the ante by adding just enough mundane elements and architectural features to make one sense we are still somewhere in this world—but something is always off.
For instance, in Aisha’s Story 2, the figure stands on the edge of a shadow, a liminal space before a grey wall on which a large Masjid has been drawn in what appears to be chalk. But where does that shadow actually end? When one looks more closely, it appear to disappear impossibly into that drawing itself.
These constructed images are full of surprises that one may not catch without spending more time with them, but even after spending time with them, the mystery lingers. As they upend our senses with trompe-l’oeil, they also aim to deconstruct assumptions about culture, gender norms, faith and religions.
Khadija Tarver A circle made by walking at METHOD Gallery
In the months to come, artist Khadija Tarver will walk from one end of the island of Bermuda to the others: 24.1 miles. It will be a symbolic act to memorialize her late father and their Bermudian lineage. At METHOD Gallery, the installation A circle made by walking serves as both preparation for that journey and a place to meditate on ones own lineage, time, the desire to memorialize, and the human impact on nature that this desire brings.
A section of grass has been laid out and is being maintained and watered in the gallery over the course of the installation. Guests are invited to walk on it and meditate on their own terms without worrying about human effect. During Art Walk, Tarver herself will be walking in the gallery for 2.41 hours, one of several occasions when she will do so until the installation closes on June 2.
Exhale at Shift Gallery
Guest curated by Liz Patterson and Trevor Doak, Exhale at Shift Gallery features two beloved Seattle artists known for a graphic, uplifting approach to fraught emotional subjects. If you want an earnest and playful show to lift your spirits as you enter the new month, this is the perfect spot.
Ellen Forney is especially known for her best-selling Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, and selections from that work and her new release Rock Steady will be on display. Clyde Petersen‘s stop motion film Torrey Pines premiered in Seattle in 2016, telling his own, queer, surreal coming-of-age story almost wordlessly based on a cross-country trip he took with his mother at the age of twelve. It was included in a list by Business Insider, The 28 Best Films of All Times You’ve Probably Never Seen. At Shift, you will see a jubilant concert scene featuring over 400 handmade puppets.