Today’s blog post is written by Erika VanHorne, UW senior and choir president of the UW Chorale.
On the eve of “An Evening in the Galleries with the UW Chorale,” a special event that was held in conjunction with the Henry’s exhibition Ann Hamilton: the common S E N S E, I was nervous. This experience was unprecedented for me as a collegiate choral singer – a deliberate inversion of my ossified conceptions of performance, space, and audience. Yet as the choir reverently filed into the gallery that whirred with otherworldly bullroarers, my sense of trepidation dissipated – replaced with a transfixed reverie.
Audience members expectantly dispersed themselves among the jumbled choristers – but my focus was directed at the machines that crescendoed in tandem with our voices. We moved next to the North gallery where canonical choral literature was sung among images of specimens printed on newsprint. The sheets which rippled softly as the audience quietly stepped around us and them. Next, the choir slowly dissolved and dispersed throughout the Henry – allowing singers to wander as individuals.
These improvisations took on a meditative nature – as I grasped for the names of the immured specimens through song, I induced an inner dialogue on the nature of human-derived taxonomies. In this time of independent song, a fellow chorister would occasionally sidle up next to me – intertwining a voice with mine in unexpected, sublime euphony. As the boundary between performer and gallery visitor also evaporated, I found another audience – the specimens themselves. Through lyrics, these creatures were anthropomorphized with an intimate sonic tactility – at once haunting and familiar.
Although I visited this exhibition at its opening, this event became an unexpectedly meaningful experience for me. Throughout my university experience, I have found that the most enriching experiences are those that transcend the false dichotomy within the arts and academic disciplines. In this interdisciplinary vein, artist Ann Hamilton and Dr. Giselle Wyers, director of the UW Chorale, crafted an evocative, organic experience through an unexpected fusion of song, art, material culture, and biology that challenged my boundaries as a singer and humanist.
INCITE•INSIGHT lecture: Kristan Kennedy Thursday, Feb 26, 7 – 9 PM
We invite you to participate in meaningful discussion on contemporary art with artist, curator, and educator Kristan Kennedy, who, in the past decade, has focused on commissioning work for international emerging artists in the form of solo projects and large-scale, site-specific installations.
Future History: The 2015 Henry Gala Saturday, Feb 28, 6 – 11:59 PM
Tickets are going fast for the Henry’s annual gala! We’ll be offering a handful of unique auction experiences and a raise-the-paddle in support of the Henry. The Gala starts at 6pm and Future History Party starts at 9pm. Purchase your ticket now!
ArtBreak: Video//Yoga Thursday, Feb. 19, 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Engage your senses in this yoga class taught with video art lead by Julia Greenway, curator and teacher at Interstitial Theatre. Video//Yoga occurs the third Thursday of every month.
Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice Lecture: Gareth Moore Thursday, Feb. 19, 7 – 8:30 PM Gareth Moore will speak about his practice and various projects. His work has been displayed worldwide, including San Francisco, Vancouver, and Berlin. This artist lecture series is held in conjunction with the University of Washington School of Art + Art History + Design and the Nebula Project.
Today’s blog post is written by Julian Miller, Henry Art Gallery’s Education and Program Assistant.
For those who missed it, our third annual Graduate Student Happy Hour was a blast!
We had a fabulous turn-out: over 1,100 people came and we were expecting 700 people. Although the beer ran out early, there was still plenty to do including art activities, a photo booth, a raffle and chance to munch on some delicious Bánh Mí sandwiches! If you were there, congratulations! You got to experience the fun! For those who were unable to make it, here are some photos from our photographer Chona Kasinger to recap:
The energy was high and we were stoked to have people who may not normally go to contemporary art museums in attendance. We even witnessed a statistical analysis of the probability in winning the raffle (you know who you are). If you’re around next year, make sure you come back again! We plan on having more beer, more food, and more activities!
Don’t forget, the Henry is always free for University of Washington students!
Object Narratives: Fur and Fashion Thursday, Jan 29, 7 – 8:30 PM
As part of the series that explores the historical and cultural context of objects in the common S E N S E, join Clara Berg, Museum of History & Industry’s Costumes and Textiles Collections Specialist, for a lesson about the local history of fashionable fur.
This week’s blog post is a preview of “Object Narratives: Fur and Fashion” coming up on January 29th. Clara Berg, Collections Specialist for Costumes and Textiles at MOHAI is our speaker and the author of today’s post.
I love the deeply personal nature of clothing. Clothing has an intimate, sensory relationship with the body, and every object has an intriguing history.
Ann Hamilton’s exhibition the common S E N S E includes more than forty garments from the collections of the Henry Art Gallery and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. The garments are made from animal materials: fur, feathers, skins, guts. Depending on the piece and your sensibilities, you may find the idea of wearing the clothing repulsive or enticing. You may be passionately opposed to any kind of animal suffering, and recoil at the idea of wearing their skins on your body. Or you may find the materials interesting and inviting, and wish to experience their luxurious textures against your skin. Either way, there is something visceral about viewing these garments.
Clothing is also personal because it is full of stories. There is the story of the material itself—where it came from and how it was manipulated and changed. Then there is the story of how a garment was pieced together and shaped. Something hand-stitched takes hours of care and precision, but even the most industrialized clothing factory still requires human labor. You can’t put a bolt of fabric in a machine and have it spit out a pile of shirts. Human hands put pattern pieces together, guide sections through the sewing machines, and clip loose threads. Commercial garments also have the story of the seller—the person or people running a business which builds relationships with clients and promotes a certain aesthetic or lifestyle. Finally you have the wearer (or perhaps a succession of wearers) who take the garment out into the world—wearing it in daily life or only for special occasions.
If you are interested in learning more about the stories of the garments on display in the common S E N S E (and others from the Henry collection which are usually in storage) I’ll be giving a program on January 29th about the history of fur and fashion in Seattle. Who were the people and businesses involved in the industry here? Who were the clients who bought furs and where did they wear them? What did fur mean to the people of Seattle? I’ll talk about those histories, take a close look at some garments in the Reed Collection Study Center, and then tour the garments in the exhibition. For me, learning those historical stories increases that visceral experience of the garments. In addition to your own feelings about the materials and style of the garments, you can add a connection to the people who created, touched, and cared for the objects in the past.