Marie Watt

A close-up of a cluster of tin cones sewn on mesh netting, creating abstract cloud-like forms that hang from the ceiling.


March 2, 2024
October 20, 2024

About the Exhibit

Seneca artist Marie Watt uses humble materials to explore history, community, and storytelling
through the legacies of Indigenous teachings.

Watt’s immersive installation at the Blanton features new and recent sculptural works from her Sky Dances Light series. Tens of thousands of tin cones sewn on mesh netting make up abstract
cloud-like forms that hang from the ceiling. Known as “jingles,” these small metal bells historically made from rolled tobacco tin lids reference the Jingle Dress Dance. Today an
important Native American pow-wow dance and regalia, the Jingle Dress Dance began as a healing ritual during the 1918 flu pandemic. According to Watt, “one version of the story is that a member of the Ojibwe nation had a sick granddaughter. They had this dream in which they were instructed to attach tin jingles to a dress and have women dance around this sick child while wearing the dress. The idea was that the sound would be healing. It’s assumed the
medicine worked, because the dance was shared with other communities.”

To Watt, the Jingle Dress Dance’s origins as a healing rite connect to our present moment of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The forest of jingle clouds invites us to create bonds across human history, generations, and with each other.

UPCOMING: CURATOR’S CHOICE TOUR, 4pm, 3/9 – Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Hannah Klemm will be discussing the installation at this special tour, as part of our Second Saturday programming. Learn more about the schedule and admission info on the event page.

Organized by Hannah Klemm, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Blanton Museum of Art

Members get free admission.

About the Artist

Portland, Oregon-based artist Marie Watt (born 1976, Seattle, WA) is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation with German-Scot ancestry. Her work invites collaboration and conversation, creating space for human connection. Watt has an MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University; she attended Willamette University and the Institute of American Indian Arts; and in 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Willamette University. Watt’s work has been exhibited at: The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Denver Art Museum, to name a few. Her work is in the permanent collections of National Gallery of Canada, the Portland Art Museum, the Smithsonian, Renwick Gallery, Albright-Knox Gallery, The Whitney Museum in NY, Seattle Art Museum, US Library of Congress, Denver Art Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum, and more.

Image Gallery

Feature Image Credit

Installation view of Marie Watt, “Sky Dances Light: Solo XII,” tin jingles, cotton twill tape, polyester mesh, steel, at Kavi Gupta Gallery, 2022 (photo: Kyle Flubacker, courtesy of the artist and Kavi

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