Marie Watt: Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek

Michelle Reynolds , Tacoma Art Museum , September 3, 2020

Tacoma Art Museum


Marie Watt‘s bronze  Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek graces TAM along Pacific Avenue. In it, Watt explores the humble yet significant role blankets play in people’s lives, in Native American communities, and in the history of the West. On the title of the work, Watt explains: “Transportation Object  is the term used to classify cradleboards at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Physically and metaphorically, blankets transport us: they receive us when we are born and they shroud us at death. On the western frontier, this transportation object functioned as regalia, clothing, bedding, and currency. Generous Ones  acknowledges Tacoma’s indigenous inhabitants, the Puyallup and Coast Salish People. The name Puyallup or S’Puyalupubsh means “generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter our lands.” The phrase “Generous Ones” also allows us to reflect and acknowledge those who are generous in our lives. Trek reflects on slow journeys, as well as the dynamic confluence and exchange that is a part of migrating and settling.”


Watt’s choice of medium further emphasizes interconnectedness among the community and region. The work is comprised of more than 350 blankets that were donated along with their stories by members of the greater Tacoma community. These personal tales revealed the history of each object, demonstrating relationships across time, generations, and physical space. The choice to cast them in bronze was both practical (to preserve the work in variable weather conditions) and metaphoric. Historically, bronze has been used to honor individuals through statues and busts. Here, Watt memoralizes tales of everyday life and provides a site of personal and public remembrance. 

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