For media inquiries, to arrange interviews, or to obtain images, please contact:
Christina Claassen, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, 360-778-8936.
In-Person Docent-Led Tours Return to the Museum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, July 7, 2021—After a year and a half of closures or limited in-person capacity due to COVID-19, the Whatcom Museum is excited to bring back in-person docent-led tours of the exhibitions in the Lightcatcher building. Beginning July 11, visitors can participate in an English or Spanish language tour of the exhibition, El Zodíaco Familiar or a tour of Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest.
The Museum’s docents are a group of trained volunteers who work with the curator of art to gain insight into the themes, works and artists in an exhibition. They contribute many hours of their time to research and plan the focus and content of their individual tours.
Although the Museum is open at full capacity, safety measures are in place to limit group size and create an enjoyable but safe tour environment. Each tour can accommodate up to six people and pre-registration is strongly recommended. Walk-in visitors will be accommodated as space allows. The tours begin in the lobby of the Lightcatcher building, last 45 minutes to an hour and are free to members or included with admission for non-members.
Summer tours of El Zodíaco Familiar, an exhibition by George Rodriguez, take place Sundays, July 11, Aug. 15, Sept. 5 and Oct. 24, and Fridays, July 16, Aug. 27, Sept. 10 and Oct. 8 with English language tours at 1 p.m. and Spanish language tours at 2 p.m. Registration for El Zodíaco Familiar is online at https://v2.waitwhile.com/welcome/elzodiacofamiliardoc. Tours of Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest take place Thursdays, July 29, and Aug. 5, 12 and 19 at 1 p.m. Registration for Fluid Formations is online at https://v2.waitwhile.com/welcome/fluidformationsdocen.
About Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest
Celebrating a rich legacy unique to our region, Fluid Formations features the art of 57 contemporary artists working in glass. Drawing from the Museum’s permanent collection, loans from artists, and working in close partnership with Museum of Glass (Tacoma, Wash.), the exhibition celebrates the innovation and striking range of processes and ideas that come from decades of generous exchange and shared passion for the material of glass. In addition to docent-led tours of this exhibition, Curator of Art Amy Chaloupka will lead curator tours in the gallery July 22, Aug. 26, Sept. 16 and Oct. 7, 12:15 p.m. and 2 p.m. Registration is online at https://v2.waitwhile.com/welcome/fluidformationscurat.
Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest will be on exhibit through Oct. 10, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. This exhibition is organized in partnership with Museum of Glass and supported in part by Peoples Bank, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and the National Endowment for the Arts with media support from Cascade Public Media KCTS9. Learn more.
About El Zodíaco Familiar
Championed by Seattle-based ceramic artist George Rodriguez, the exhibition features new works by Rodriguez and 13 Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane collaborating artists. Rodriguez embarked on a collaborative iteration of the Chinese Zodiac, reimagining the classic zodiac animals as analogous creatures of Mexican origin, bridging cultures and creating new narratives. Each artist has imbued their collaboratively-imagined sculpture—corresponding to the zodiac animal of their birth year—with personal perspective, folk tradition and an intimate feeling of celebration. While each sculpture is as distinct as its maker, taken together, the twelve pieces vibrate with deep resonances of the familiar.
El Zodíaco Familiar will be on exhibit through Oct. 24, 2021 at the Lightcatcher building. This exhibition is supported in part by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and the National Endowment for the Arts with media support from Cascade Public Media KCTS9. Learn more.
New Exhibition Combines Traditional Folk and Contemporary Art in Reimagined “Mexican” Zodiac
“El Zodíaco Familiar” features sculptural works by George Rodriguez in collaboration with thirteen Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane artists.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, June 15, 2021—The Whatcom Museum presents the opening of the exhibition El Zodíaco Familiar. Championed by Seattle-based ceramic artist George Rodriguez, the exhibition features new works by Rodriguez and thirteen collaborating artists and opens June 19 at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building. It will be on view through October 24, 2021.
Rodriguez’s large scale ceramic sculptures are a blend of traditional folk art and contemporary fine art and craft. Hand built and often at human scale, he enhances his figures with various surface patterns, colors and glazes.
For this exhibition, Rodriguez embarks on a collaborative iteration of the Chinese Zodiac. In an homage to its origins in Chinese folklore, Rodriguez has reimagined the classic zodiac animals as analogous creatures of Mexican origin, bridging cultures and creating new narratives. El Zodíaco Familiar—the fifth iteration of Rodriguez’s Mexican Zodiac series—invites 13 Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane artists of various artistic disciplines to respond to his animal sculptures with the forms, tools and aesthetics of their own artistic practices. Each artist has imbued their collaboratively-imagined sculpture—corresponding to the zodiac animal of their birth year—with personal perspective, folk tradition and an intimate feeling of celebration. While each sculpture is as distinct as its maker, taken together, the twelve pieces vibrate with deep resonances of the familiar.
“The Whatcom Museum is thrilled to have the opportunity to share this new body of work for the first time with our visitors,” says Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art. “All twelve of the zodiac sculptures are joyful personal expressions and I’m sure people will have fun discovering the materials and thoughts behind each piece, as well as identifying the zodiac creature of their birth year.”
Over the last year, Rodriguez sent his ceramic base forms to artists in Arizona, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Washington State and Jalisco, Mexico. The artistic disciplines of each artist vary as widely as their geographic locations and include animation, ceramics, illustration, jewelry-making, photography, poetry, printmaking and weaving.
Gabriela Ramírez Michel, a jeweler-sculptor from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, utilizes different kinds of modelling wax in her hand-crafted stone and metal jewelry. For her contributions to the piece La Peyotera (Mono), she has embellished Rodriguez’s ceramic monkey form with wax-coated string in a detailed and brightly colored pattern. Ramirez Michel adapts a traditional technique of the Indigenous Wixarika people called “tablas de estambre,” which was used for many hundreds of years in sacred ritual offerings.
Minneapolis-based artist Eric J. Garcia blends history, contemporary themes and a graphic style in his work to create politically charged art that reaches beyond aesthetics. For his Iguana zodiac, Garcia worked closely with Rodriguez on defining the shape and texture of the clay animal head to maximize the “canvas” to illustrate on. The artists also purposefully carved the waddle on the Iguana’s neck to the outline of the U.S./Mexico border to depict the geographic location where Garcia is from.
Of working closely with each artist on this project Rodriguez states, “Community is a strong force that influences my artwork and life. I value the communities that I have formed and am continuing to expand on. My artwork aims to bring people closer and act as markers for people to congregate around.” He adds, “The goal of this project and collaboration is to showcase the breadth of artistic expressions within the Mexican and ChicanX/Chicane community, to give these artists a platform to express their voice and vision, and to use a familiar tale to comment on the need for human connection and community.”
Artists who worked in collaboration with Rodriguez on “El Zodíaco Familiar” include Javier Barboza, Alejandra Carrillo-Estrada, Eric J. Garcia, Jon Gómez, Carolina Jiménez, Gabriel Marquez, Gustavo Martinez, Marilyn Montufar, Gabriela Ramírez Michel, Yosimar Reyes, Moises Salazar, Samirah Steinmeyer and Christie Tirado.
El Zodíaco Familiar will be on exhibit June 19 – October 24, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. This exhibition is supported in part by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and the National Endowment for the Arts. Media sponsorship provided by Cascade Public Media KCTS9. Learn more at www.whatcommuseum.org/exhibition/el-zodiaco-familiar/.
Smithsonian American Art Museum Announces a Nationally Touring Exhibition Re-Examining the American West Through Modern and Contemporary Art
“Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea” Showing at the Whatcom Museum in 2022
Ideas about the American West, both in popular culture and in commonly accepted historical narratives, are often based on a past that never was, and fail to take into account important events that actually occurred. The exhibition Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea, examines the perspectives of 48 modern and contemporary artists who offer a broader and more inclusive view of this region. This exhibition presents an opportunity to examine previous misconceptions, question racist clichés and highlight the multiple communities and histories that continue to form this iconic region of the United States. Working in various media, from painting and sculpture to photography and mixed media, the artists featured in the exhibition bring a nuanced and multifaceted history into view. Among the many voices and communities highlighted in this exhibition, Many Wests showcases artworks by artists who are Black, white, women, men, LGBTQ+, Native American, Asian American and Latinx.
The exhibition is organized jointly by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and four nationally accredited art museums located in some of the fastest growing cities and states in the western region of the United States. It is the culmination of a five-year exhibition partnership made possible by the Art Bridges Foundation. The partner museums are the Boise Art Museum in Idaho; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon; the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City; and the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. E. Carmen Ramos, acting chief curator and curator of Latinx art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum has led the collaborative curatorial effort.
Many Wests features artwork drawn from the permanent collections of all five collaborating museums and the exhibition will be presented at all five venues. The multi-city national tour begins at the Boise Art Museum (July 31 to Feb. 13, 2022). The exhibition then travels to the Whatcom Museum (March 19, 2022, to Aug. 21, 2022), the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (Sept. 26, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2022) and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Feb. 4, 2023, to June 11, 2023). The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., will be the final stop on the tour, where the exhibition will be on view from July 28, 2023, to Jan. 14, 2024.
“This nationally touring exhibition, organized through a deeply collaborative process with our colleagues, presents the opportunity to see the West anew through the eyes of diverse modern and contemporary artists,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Thanks to the generous support and encouragement from Art Bridges to think differently about how art is seen in communities across the United States, we see this as a model for both collection sharing and better understanding the rich and varied, and sometimes contradictory, stories of the American people and their histories.”
The team that organized the exhibition includes Amy Chaloupka, curator of art at the Whatcom Museum; Melanie Fales, executive director/CEO of the Boise Art Museum; Danielle Knapp, the McCosh Curator at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art; Whitney Tassie, senior curator and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts; and Ramos, with Anne Hyland, the Art Bridges Initiative curatorial coordinator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
“Through strategies grounded in documentation, historical inquiry, cultural tradition and aesthetic and material experimentation, the artists featured in this exhibition catalyze new understandings of a region and history that is so often submerged in stereotype and distortion,” Ramos said. “Their works address the past and present, revealing that ‘the West’ has always been a place of multiple stories, experiences and cultures. Organizing this exhibition with museum partners who are based in the American West itself allows us to feature many artists with deep ties to this region. This fact makes this exhibition especially meaningful.”
The exhibition is bilingual with English and Spanish labels, and organized into three sections: “Caretakers,” “Memory Makers” and “Boundary Breakers.” These overarching themes illuminate the different ways artists create countervailing views of life in and the history of the American West.
“Caretakers” examines how artists can redefine what it means to take care of themselves, their communities and their futures. Featured artists include Ka’ila Farrell-Smith (Klamath Modoc), Awa Tsireh/Alfonso Roybal (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Patrick Nagatani and Marie Watt (Seneca). Through their work, these artists demonstrate a commitment to the stewardship of land, history, language and culture. They draw upon personal narratives, communal ties and collective experience in the American West to honor the past and shape legacies for generations to come.
“Memory Makers” explores how artists act as transmitters of cultural memory as they bring forth neglected histories of the West through their work. Featured artists include Jacob Lawrence, Roger Shimomura, Christina Fernandez and others who go beyond the familiar accounts of European settlers and bring to light lived histories and identities that are essential to a truthful history.
“Boundary Breakers” highlights artists that unsettle common beliefs that inform the popular understanding of the American West. Their representations break away from myths and assert their continued presence despite centuries of omission and erasure by mainstream culture. They question simplified notions of identity, affirm their lived experiences and refute romanticized imagery. Featured artists include Angela Ellsworth, Raphael Montañez Ortiz (Apsáalooke/Crow) and Angel Rodríguez-Díaz.
Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea is organized jointly by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Boise Art Museum, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Whatcom Museum. This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of the Art Bridges Initiative.
About the Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the most significant and inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station, and is open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. and is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday Admission is free. Timed-entry passes are required to visit both locations. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.
Two Historical Garment Exhibits Open at Old City Hall
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 28, 2021—The Whatcom Museum is excited to open two new exhibits at Old City Hall highlighting a selection of historical garments from the Museum’s collection spanning the 1800s through the mid-twentieth century. All Dressed Up… and Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren: The Impact on Kimono on European and American Design Practices, c. 1890-1980 open this Saturday, May 29.
“When one thinks about the Whatcom Museum collections, many things may come to mind: The John M. Edson Hall of Birds, the contemporary masterpieces in the art collection, the Photo Archives or the treasures in the history collection. Perhaps lesser known is the incredible clothing collection that includes hundreds of examples of historic garments,” said Maria Coltharp, Collections Curator at the Museum.
All Dressed Up… highlights some of the colorful artistry of fashion, including items that would have been worn “out on the town,” such as silk and chiffon gowns, vintage designer evening shoes and antique, tailored headwear. The display includes a dramatic 1928 lavender full-length chiffon gown worn by the artist Helen Loggie.
In the exhibit, Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren: The Impact on Kimono on European and American Design Practices, c. 1890-1980, a display of kimono-inspired garments will be featured, revealing American designers’ ingenuity in adapting aspects of the kimono for Western use, as well as the savvy of Japanese designers in anticipating Western demand. Curated by Julia Sapin, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, Western Washington University, the exhibit focuses on items that have come into the Museum’s collection during the past fifty years, primarily from Bellingham community members.
All Dressed Up… will be on exhibit May 29 – October 31, 2021 and Silk for Suffragettes and Schoolchildren will be on exhibit May 29 – August 29, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Thurs. – Sun., Noon – 5 p.m. For more information visit www.whatcommuseum.org.
Museum Offers In-Person Programs this Summer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2021—The Whatcom Museum is excited to offer a variety of in-person summer programs and activities for people of all ages. From the return of a community art project in June called Whatcom Squared to summer camps for kids to History Sunset Cruises, the Museum hopes to offer history and art experiences in a fun, safe way.
Community members will turn the Lightcatcher building’s glass Lightwall into a massive “stained glass” patchwork by creating artworks on large transparent squares as part of the second offering of Whatcom Squared. During the month of June, the Museum will have 3-foot-square plastic sheets available for free for community members to pick up and take home to draw on. The Museum hopes people will show what a Whatcom summer looks like. Squares can be picked up at the Museum’s Lightcatcher building and need to be returned by June 27.
“We’re so excited to be able to welcome people back to the Museum, and there’s nothing I like more than seeing all the kooky and creative ways our community expresses itself,” said Drew Whatley, lead educator at the Museum. “…I would love to see a whole rainbow of colors from dozens of different squares totally transform the Lightcatcher building, but the coolest part will be how the community places its own stamp on the building.”
The Museum will hang the transparencies on the window squares inside the building to create a huge mosaic of stained glass. By playing with and changing one of the central elements of the building, namely the light that floods in the Lightwall during summertime, the community can make the Museum their own. In addition to offering transparencies for people to take home, the Museum will host two work parties on June 5 or June 26 to help people find inspiration, and with markers and supplies available for use. More information is available at https://www.whatcommuseum.org/whatcom-squared/.
The Museum is offering “superhero” summer camps this year at the Lightcatcher building for children ages 4 – 10. Half-day science- and art-themed camps will be led by Museum educators for children 4 – 6 years old. Kids will grow crystals, build marble mazes and create other STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities at the science camp, or learn about different artists and their techniques, while creating their own paintings at the art camp. Full day camps for children 7 – 10 years old will focus on roleplaying games and how to create them, or photography and filmmaking.
Camp sessions are a week-long and begin July 12, with one offering of each camp type. More information about session details, what parents can expect and fees can be found at https://www.whatcommuseum.org/learn/camps/. The Museum will follow health and safety protocols for summer camps, including wearing face coverings, regular hand and surface sanitizing and more.
For those who missed last summer’s annual History Sunset Cruises, the Museum is excited to resume these beloved waterside history lessons aboard San Juan Cruises’ Victoria Star boat. History Cruises will sail Tuesdays, July 13 – August 31, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Participants get great close-up views of parks, businesses, industry and neighborhoods from Bellingham Bay, with Bellingham historians Brian Griffin or Doug Starcher serving as tour guides. They tie their knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bayside activities. Their narrative of history, trivia and current events makes cruise guests feel they are becoming experts on their community and gives new understanding of the area to both locals and visitors.
Tickets are $35 for Museum members and $40 for non-members. No group rates will be offered this year due to capacity limitations. Children ages 5 and younger are free but must be pre-registered. Purchase tickets through Eventbrite.com or in-person at the Museum Store inside the Lightcatcher, 250 Flora St. More information about History Sunset Cruises can be found at https://www.whatcommuseum.org/explore/history-sunset-cruise/.
History Sunset Cruises Return this Summer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, May 12, 2021—The Whatcom Museum is excited to bring back the annual History Sunset Cruises this summer after last year’s season was canceled due to Covid-19. Partnering again with San Juan Cruises for tour operation, the weekly cruises will take place Tuesdays, July 13 – August 31, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The sailings will be offered at a reduced capacity with new protocols in place to ensure visitor safety, while still offering an enjoyable experience on Bellingham Bay.
The Museum’s popular summer cruises take locals and visitors aboard the 100-foot Victoria Star tour boat. Participants get great close-up views of parks, businesses, industry and neighborhoods from Bellingham Bay, with Bellingham historians Brian Griffin or Doug Starcher serving as tour guides. They tie their knowledge of local history with up-to-date facts about bayside activities. Their narrative of history, trivia and current events makes cruise guests feel they are becoming experts on their community and gives new understanding of the area to both locals and visitors.
“We are so excited to get back out on the water this year and can feel the enthusiasm and optimism from our patrons,” said Patricia Leach, Executive Director of the Whatcom Museum. “People are looking forward to outdoor activities once again in the beautiful Pacific Northwest!”
The Victoria Star leaves from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven, boarding at 6:15 p.m., with a prompt 6:30 p.m. sailing, and an 8:30 p.m. return. The boat has indoor and outdoor seating on two levels, an on-board snack bar, and a full bar with a selection of Northwest beers, wines and cocktails for purchase. Restrooms are available on board. San Juan Cruises is following Covid-safety guidelines including requiring masks indoors (except when eating or drinking), masks outdoors when six-foot distancing is not possible, contact-less check-in, increased sanitation, and more. Visit https://whales.com/covid-19-safety/ for a full list of safety measures. Guests are welcome to bring dinner, snacks and beverages (non-alcoholic) onboard.
Tickets are $35 for Museum members and $40 for non-members. No group rates will be offered this year due to capacity limitations. Children ages 5 and younger are free but must be pre-registered. Purchase tickets through Eventbrite.com or in-person at the Museum Store, located at 250 Flora St., Bellingham, WA 98225. Ticket sales end one week prior to the day of sailing and a cruise may be canceled if we do not meet minimum capacity. Tickets are non-refundable and not transferable between dates. Proceeds from the History Sunset Cruises benefit Whatcom Museum exhibitions and educational programs. For more information about the history cruises visit www.whatcommuseum.org/history-sunset-cruise.
San Juan Cruises is located at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue, Suite 104, Bellingham, WA 98225. The Port of Bellingham charges $0.50/hour for parking, in the large lot with numbered spaces about 30 yards in front of the terminal building. Overnight parking is $6/day. There is free parking for up to 2 hours in front of the terminal. To learn more about San Juan Cruises visit https://Whales.com.
Photographer and Social Documentarian Matika Wilbur to Talk About “Seeds of Culture” at June 3 Presentation at Mount Baker Theatre
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA; May 7, 2021— powerful storytelling with video, photography and song, Matika Wilbur (Tulalip and Swinomish), will expand on her experiences photographing Native American women from across the hundreds of sovereign Nations she has visited over nearly a decade. This free, in-person presentation will take place June 3, 2021, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Mount Baker Theatre, following CDC guidelines, as well as recommendations developed specifically for the theatre industry, including distanced seating and increased ventilation.
The presentation is the signature event of the Whatcom Museum-hosted exhibition “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women” by Matika Wilbur on display through June 13, 2021 at the Lightcatcher building. Wilbur’s talk will give context and background to some of the 28 photographs of Native American women featured in the exhibition.
Wilbur is the only photographer to be welcomed into more than 500 Native American sovereign Nations in the United States. For the past nine years, she has collaborated with scores of tribes to share the images and truths of Native peoples through Project 562.
In “Seeds of Culture,” Wilbur has curated striking photographs of Native women from among the thousands of portraits she has taken in recent years for the project. Written narratives and audio excerpts of the interviews she conducts accompany the photographs.
Through her talk, Wilbur will touch on specific lived experiences shared by the women who have sat for her portraits. These include reflections on conversations with Dr. Mary Jiron Belgarde LoRe (Pueblo of Isleta and Ohkay Owingeh), who has committed her life to “stop[ping] the assimilation process” produced by colonial education systems, and Dana Eldridge, Dine’ (Navajo), a young anti-fracking protester and Navajo Walker, among many more.
Wilbur’s presentation will be held Thursday, June 3, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St., Bellingham, Wash. The event is free, but ticket registration is required. Registration opens Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. at https://mountbakertheatre.com/online/article/seedsofculture. Registration is offered in paired seats of two, and a few groups of four. Single ticket holders will have to reserve two spots, so booking with a friend or partner is recommended. Seating is limited due to Covid-19 capacity limitations at Mount Baker Theatre. Face coverings are required throughout the entire event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event. A livestream of the event will also be available. This presentation is hosted by the Whatcom Museum with promotional support from Whatcom Community College.
“Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” is on exhibit through June 13, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. The Museum invites the community to see the exhibition prior to Wilbur’s event. The Museum is currently open for general admission at 50% capacity, Thursday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.
This community presentation is made possible with support from Art Bridges, a private arts foundation dedicated to expanding access to American art across the country. The exhibition is presented by the Lhaq’temish Foundation, Lummi Nation, with additional support from Jean Andresen, Rafeeka & Neal Kloke, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About Matika Wilbur
Matika Wilbur, one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading photographers, has exhibited extensively in regional, national and international venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, The Tacoma Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts and the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts in France. She studied photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and received a bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Her work led her to becoming a certified teacher at Tulalip Heritage High School, providing inspiration for the youth of her own Indigenous community. Wilbur, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes (Washington), is unique as an artist and social documentarian in Indian Country—the insight, depth and passion with which she explores the contemporary Native identity and experience are communicated through the impeccable artistry of each of her silver gelatin photographs. Learn more about Matika at www.matikawilbur.com, Project 562 at www.project562.com, or check out her Instagram account. Wilbur is also the co-host of the podcast, All My Relations.
Fluid Formations Glass Art Exhibition Showcases Some of the NW’s Most Influential Artists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, April 5, 2021—Celebrating a rich art community and traditions unique to the region, Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest opens April 10, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. The exhibition features the art of fifty-seven contemporary artists working in glass. Organized by Amy Chaloupka, the Museum’s Curator of Art, and working in close partnership with Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash., the exhibition also includes works from the Whatcom Museum’s permanent collection, as well as loans from artists.
The Pacific Northwest is the epicenter of glass, spurred by the establishment of Pilchuck Glass School on a remote tree farm in Stanwood, Washington in 1971. Fifty years on, the region’s glass community has expanded significantly, defined by shared knowledge, teamwork, and an experimental spirit.
Chaloupka states, “There are more glass studios in this region than anywhere else in the world, and the world-class residency programs like Pilchuck and Museum of Glass have made the Northwest a hub of innovation for the medium. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the wide-ranging works created here in the Pacific Northwest.”
In 1992, the Whatcom Museum organized the exhibition Clearly Art: The Legacy of Pilchuck. Nearly 30 years later, the Museum shows how artists are pushing forward innovation, community, and education in the field. The exhibition presents a striking range of processes and ideas that could only come from decades of generous exchange and shared passion for the material of glass.
Fluid Formations includes the work of 57 artists including Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Nancy Callan, Dale Chihuly, Jen Elek, Dan Friday, Kelly O’Dell, Preston Singletary, Raven Skyriver, Ethan Stern, Lino Tagliapietra, Erich Woll, and more.
To complement the exhibition at the Lightcatcher, the Museum will also feature a collection of glass birds in the John M. Edson Hall of Birds at Old City Hall. Birds by Toikka, made by renowned Finnish artist and designer Oiva Toikka (1931 – 2019) for the Finnish design company, Iittala, are on loan from Museum of Glass and will be interspersed among the Museum’s mounted bird display cases.
“The Whatcom Museum board and staff are especially pleased to partner with Museum of Glass for this amazing exhibition,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “I believe our visitors will be particularly impressed with the perspective that our Curator of Art, Amy Chaloupka, has taken in telling the story of how the glass artist community has evolved in the last 30 years ago.”
Fluid Formations: The Legacy of Glass in the Pacific Northwest will be on exhibit April 10 – October 10, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. This exhibition is organized in partnership with Museum of Glass and supported in part by Peoples Bank, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Media sponsorship provided by Cascade Public Media KCTS9.
New Exhibition Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women by Photographer Matika Wilbur
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, March 3, 2021—The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash. presents a new exhibition, “Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” by Matika Wilbur, a photographer from the Tulalip and Swinomish Tribes and the creator and director of Project 562. The exhibition opens at the Lightcatcher building March 13, 2021 and features 28 photographs of Native American women, along with interviews, written narratives and an audio compilation featuring the sitters’ sharing their stories.
Wilbur is the only Native American photographer to be welcomed into more than 500 Native American sovereign Nations in the United States. For the past nine years, Wilbur has collaborated with scores of tribes to share the images and truths of Native American peoples.
In the exhibition, Wilbur has curated the striking photographs from among the thousands of portraits she has taken in recent years. Written narratives and audio of the interviews she conducts as part of her project accompany the photographs. Elders, activists, educators, culture-bearers, artists and students have shared with Wilbur their realities as Native women. They convey how ancestral and contemporary identities shape their lives and hopes in Indian Country.
“We portray the extraordinary lives and stories of Native women throughout North America. I believe the viewers will experience great understanding and connection with these remarkable women, just as they have enlightened and inspired me,” explains Wilbur. “Native women are traditionally the stewards of the vital relationship with land, and have remained principal advocates for Mother Earth, from fracking protests to enduring matrilineal values. By exposing the astonishing variety of the Indigenous presence and reality, we will build cultural bridges, abandon stereotypes, and renew and inspire our national legacy.”
Visitors will see photographs that glimpse into the lives of Native women from across the Northwest and Turtle Island. The exhibition includes new images taken of Northwest Native women, including a mother-to-be from the Lummi Nation.
“We are grateful to Matika Wilbur for sharing her powerful images with our community, which shine light on the dynamic experiences of Indigenous women,” says Amy Chaloupka, Curator of Art. “It’s especially exciting that Wilbur will be including new works that highlight the stories of women from our region’s sovereign Nations.”
The exhibition has inspired the Whatcom Museum to host a community photo project through the month of March called “Celebrating Our Matriarchs.” The project invites community members to submit photographs celebrating matriarchs and will culminate in a virtual exhibition on the Museum’s website. Three photography workshops are also offered to help people learn photography skills and techniques on March 6, 13 and 20. The Museum is also excited to partner with Whatcom Community College to engage with different audiences and students, expanding the possibilities for additional programming related to Wilbur’s exhibition during early summer.
“Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” will be on exhibit March 13 – June 13, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. The Museum is currently open for general admission at 25% capacity. For more information about the Museum’s Covid-19 response and protocols visit our Covid-19 response page.
“Seeds of Culture: The Portraits and Stories of Native American Women,” was originally shown at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. The Whatcom Museum’s showing of the exhibition is presented by the Lhaq’temish Foundation, Lummi Nation, with additional support from Jean Andresen, Rafeeka & Neal Kloke, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the City of Bellingham and Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About Matika Wilbur
Matika Wilbur, one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading photographers, has exhibited extensively in regional, national and international venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, The Tacoma Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts and the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts in France. She studied photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and received a bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Her work led her to becoming a certified teacher at Tulalip Heritage High School, providing inspiration for the youth of her own indigenous community. Wilbur, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes (Washington), is unique as an artist and social documentarian in Indian Country—the insight, depth and passion with which she explores the contemporary Native identity and experience are communicated through the impeccable artistry of each of her silver gelatin photographs. Her collection of photographs and narratives from Project 562 is soon to be published by Ten Speed Press/Random House. Learn more about Matika at www.matikawilbur.com, Project 562 at www.project562.com, or check out her Instagram account.
“Anatomy of a Collection” to Showcase Recent Acquisitions from the Past Decade
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bellingham, WA, September 3, 2020—To mark ten years since the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building’s construction, the Museum celebrates works of art welcomed into the permanent collection throughout the last decade in the exhibition, “Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” curated by Amy Chaloupka, the Museum’s Curator of Art. This exhibition reflects the long-standing relationships with artists, institutions and donors who have helped shape and expand the Museum’s collection through gifts of art. The exhibition will debut Sept. 19 at the Lightcatcher building when the Museum reopens to the public in phase 2 of Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
Nearly 70 artworks will be displayed reflecting the Museum’s goals to extend into new areas of collecting, centered around expanding conversations and interests of today’s audiences. Many recent acquisitions and promised gifts are created by under-represented artists and focus on a multiplicity of perspectives, variety of themes and diverse media.
“As you walk through the space you can begin to see connection points between works that represent several areas of focus for the collection. Many of the artists in the exhibition knew and supported each other, learned from the same mentors or taught at the same institutions,” says Chaloupka. “The common ground across the exhibition is connection and growth through relationships. Artists don’t work and generate ideas in isolated bubbles, and museums don’t operate successfully without the integral relationships built with artists, donors and the larger community. The exhibition reflects all of these interconnected relationships.”
Several new collection pieces expand existing holdings of significant works by Pacific Northwest artists including Wendell Brazeau, Mary Henry, Clayton James, Mark Tobey and more. Other acquisitions are tied to important solo exhibitions hosted by the Museum that delve deep into an artist’s practice and career, such as Ed Bereal, John Cole, Lesley Dill and John Grade.
“Anatomy of a Collection” also provides a unique look at the internal workings of museum collecting practices, making this process transparent to the community it serves. The Museum values the idea that the artworks preserved in its buildings are held in public trust and serve as important visual connection points for education, critical analysis, preservation of culture and storytelling.
“As the Whatcom Museum approaches its 80th year as a museum, we have expanded our capacities in many ways, including increasing collection storage and focus,” Chaloupka states. “Works generally enter the Museum collection through private donors, organizations or through the artists themselves. With funds for acquisitions limited, the generosity of artists and donors and their contributions are essential to maintaining the vibrancy of this community collection for years to come.”
Chaloupka adds that including diverse perspectives and artists in the collection supports the Museum’s mission to stimulate inquiry about our changing cultural, natural and historical landscapes and deepens exhibition and educational programming.
“Anatomy of a Collection: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts,” will be on exhibit Sept. 19, 2020 – March 7, 2021 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. For more information about the Museum’s Covid-19 response and re-opening plans visit www.whatcommuseum.org/whatcom-museum-covid-19-response.
Funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Whatcom Museum Foundation, the Museum Advocates and the City of Bellingham. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with additional support provided by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan of 2020.