Encountering My Edges

This week’s blog post was written by Suria Markus, who has been interning this summer at the Henry.

Ann Hamilton. LEW wood floor at The Seattle Public Library. 2001-2004. Image courtesy of Ann Hamilton Studio.
Ann Hamilton. LEW wood floor at The Seattle Public Library. 2001-2004. Image courtesy of Ann Hamilton Studio. Photo credit: Carmen Montoya.

As the Henry prepares for the opening of Ann Hamilton: the common S E N S E, I made a trip to the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library to experience the artist’s permanent installation on the first floor in the Literacy, English as a Second Language, and World Languages Collection. I stood upon 556 maple floorboards laid down to create a 7,600-square-foot walkable surface. Routed in relief on each board are sentences in different languages made up of letters in reverse, evoking wooden typeset. The content was collected by library patrons and staff, who Hamilton invited to gather first sentences of books in SPL’s collection. The resulting 1,543 sentences represent eleven languages which, during the making of the project, were the most frequently used languages in the LEW Collection: Arabic, Chinese, English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Hamilton’s website notes that the LEW wood floor (2004) “seeks to mark this moment of technological transition by imbedding in the membrane of the library’s surface work that in texture and form remembers and evokes a tactile experience of book production and reading.”

Feeling the raised floorboards under my toes, I was most drawn to the dynamic between the individual planks and the continuous field of the floor—an assembly of different languages. I was surrounded by indecipherable words and letterforms that I could not identify. This was a moment of dislocation and humility, an opportunity for me to recognize a world of distinct cultures beyond my own experience. Through this installation, Hamilton offered me an opportunity to encounter my edges, and consider my place in relation to a larger global fabric.

The centrality of language in the LEW wood floor conjured summer 2010 when I attended an accelerated German language program at the University of Washington. I had recently acquired a German passport, officially becoming a dual citizen, and felt overwhelmed by the importance of learning the language of my heritage. On my first day of German class, looking through my textbook, I saw familiar (and a few unfamiliar) letters patterned in ways in which I could not assign meaning—not unlike my experience trying to interpret the floorboards in Hamilton’s installation. As I became more comfortable reading, writing, and speaking German, I gained an increasing appreciation for its linguistic and cultural nuances. Similarly, the longer I spent in the LEW Collection, the more I understood Hamilton’s installation as a site to consider the divides of cultural difference and interconnection.

A Call to Readers: Participate in the common S E N S E

“Just as a book connects the near at hand to the far away. Touch transverses our interior and exterior worlds.” — Ann Hamilton

What are you reading? Check out our new Tumblr site Readers Reading Readers — created just for this exhibition — and submit a excerpt that describes an exchange of touch. The exhibition title  the common S E N S E references Aristotle’s proposition in Historia Animalium and De Anima that “touch” is the sense common to all animal species.

What should you submit? It’s up to you — a paragraph from a book, a few sentences from the newspaper, an excerpt from a letter, a magazine fragment….  Throughout the duration of the exhibition, the submissions will be printed and placed around the galleries. Visitors will be able to assemble the fragments into individualized commonplace books (a commonplace book is a tool for collecting and organizing excerpts from books and other written works into one document for easy access to ideas or arguments for a variety of situations).

Become part of the exhibition! Visit our Tumblr Readers Reading Readers, and click “submit a fragment.”

Submission from readers-reading-readers.tumblr.com: Douglas Quenqua. “New Insights From Old DNA, Flowing Ants, Insecticides in Question.” New York Times, December 24, 2013.
Submission to readers-reading-readers.tumblr.com: Douglas Quenqua. “New Insights From Old DNA, Flowing Ants, Insecticides in Question.” New York Times, December 24, 2013.

Stay tuned for information about becoming a reader/scribe.
Reader/scribes will read out loud in the Henry galleries as they transcribe texts from the exhibition’s changing books. Over the course of the exhibition, the books will fill with each reader/scribes’ contribution, bringing the individual into a chorus.

the common S E N S E opens October 11. Learn more here!

Things Happening in Seattle Right Now

The rumors are true…

We are currently closed for installation! We are so excited to be working with internationally renowned artist Ann Hamilton for her building-wide exhibition  the  common  S  E  N  S  E, opening October 11th.

Dick Marshall Furrier, Seattle. Woman’s coat [detail]. 1940 – 1942. Karakul fur; Wool; Silk brocade lining. Henry Art Gallery, Elizabeth Landsome Estate, 86.10-1. Photo credit: R.J. Sánchez.
Dick Marshall Furrier, Seattle. Woman’s coat [detail]. 1940 – 1942. Karakul fur; Wool; Silk brocade lining. Henry Art Gallery, Elizabeth Landsome Estate, 86.10-1. Photo credit: R.J. Sánchez.
Hamilton’s last exhibition at the Henry was in 1992, entitled accountings. Get ready for this highly anticipated, large-scale show; it will be a big one!

In the meantime, here are a few things happening in Seattle right now/coming up that are worth checking out!

City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India, on view August 30, 2014 – February 15, 2015
City Dwellers features works from a few of India’s leading artists, who are influenced by religious traditions, popular movie culture, and digital technology.

@ the Frye
Your Feast Has Ended: Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Nicholas Galanin, and Nep Sidhu, on view June 14, 2014 – September 14, 2014
If you have yet to see this show, be sure to! Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes was one of the recipient of this years Neddy Award

#SocialMedium, on view September 27, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Crowd-curated exhibition in which, by the use of social media, works from the Founding Collection were chosen by 4,000 people from around the globe. We can’t wait to see what’s been chosen!

@ Photo Center Northwest
Richard Renaldi, Touching Strangers, on view September 10, 2014 – October 29, 2014
Richard Renaldi takes portraits of random strangers in arranged poses that go beyond comfort levels.

@round Seattle
2014 Washington Cider Week, September 4, 2014 – September 14, 2014
Head on down to the third annual Washington Cider Week, and enjoy the art form that is cider.

Mad Campus
September 13, 2014 – October 25, 2014. Check out UW’s campus for public art installations. A free art walk of the work will be held on Sunday, September 28 from 11 – 3 PM.

FINAL WEEK of Summer Exhibitions!

Stephen Vitiello. Finding Pictures in Search of Sounds.
Stephen Vitiello. Finding Pictures in Search of Sounds.

Listen up! (please)

Join us for a listening party with Stephen Vitiello and Steve Peters this Saturday, September 6th from 2 – 4 PM.

With Hidden Noise is curated by Vitiello, and features his work along with Peters and six other artists, who use sound as a material in distinctive ways. The listening event will be followed by refreshments and conversation with Peters and Vitiello in the Henry’s sculpture court. The post-party refreshment hour is at capacity, so we hope you RSVPed!



As summer comes to a close (what? how?) as do our summer exhibitions. SundaySeptember 7th is the last day to check out the works of:

Ken Price: Inside/Outside

With Hidden Noise

Rineke Dijkstra and Thomas Struth: See•ing

Electro-dynamic Drawings: Andrew Deutsch and Stephen Vitiello.



The Henry will be closed from September 15th – October 10th to install the upcoming show Ann Hamilton: the common S E N S E. Join us on October 11 to celebrate the exciting opening of this museum-wide exhibition!

During this closure, please note that everyone’s favorite cafe — Molly’s – will also be closed as of September 8th. You can look forward to a refreshed café space when Molly’s reopens October 14th.

The Road is ON With Molly Mac (part 3)

This is our third and concluding blog post from artist Molly Mac on the Summer Field Studies project “How to Get THERE ( the dam) from HERE (Seattle).” 


First we ate breakfast.

Then I reminded everybody about three things:

1. How to download a QR code reader for a mobile device
2. I have two heroes: Eva Hesse & Amanda Beard
3. For the rest of the day I’ll give away my voice in 4 color-coded roles: YELLOW is normal voice (wears black and knows she is doing an art project); GREEN voice gives advice; BLUE voice gives facts; PINK voice makes confessions (after she frames a safe space to do so).

THEN I read Richard Serra’s verb list: “Actions to Relate to Oneself”
..which was dry, imperative, and kind of embarrassing, I think.


THEN we drove from the Dam to the Security Facility (facade)



pink gave this:


blue gave this:


THEN we drove from the security facade to the Lake Roosevelt Boat Launch.


green gave this (it was a BIG sticker):


THEN we drove from the Lake Roosevelt boat Launch to the Crown Point Lookout.

>>pink did not have a sticker<<

THEN we drove from Crown Point Lookout to a picnic table by Devil’s Punchbowl (Steamboat Rock State Park)


green gave this:


………. to be continued……

……click here to find the rest……..


The Week Ahead @ Henry

This week, we would love for you to take a break with us. You deserve it.

tour at the Henry
A group tours “Katinka Bock: A and I” this past winter.

Art Break!

Thursday, August 28, 2014 12:30 – 1:00 PM

Join us as UW Exhibition guide Elissa Favero walks us through Rineke Dijkstra and Thomas Struth: See•ing.

Elissa first fell in love with contemporary art as an assembly of Louise Bourgeois eye benches was installed outside her freshman-year dorm room at Williams College, and the visual arts and landscape remain at the core of her practice as a writer, editor, and researcher. After an internship at the National Park Service and a stint at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., Elissa moved west for graduate studies in art and architectural history at the University of Washington.



Our summer exhibitions close September 7th — be sure to catch them while you can!

Ken Price: Inside/Outside
With Hidden Noise
Rineke Dijkstra and Thomas Struth: See•ing
Electro-dynamic Drawings: Andrew Deutsch and Stephen Vitiello

The Week Ahead @ Henry

This week (and every week really) the Henry is busy!

As we prepare for Ann Hamilton’s exciting museum-wide exhibition a common sense coming this October, one task was to uncover the large skylights over the Henry’s South galleries.

The tarps covering the skylights were last taken off for VOLUME: Bed of Sound, in 2001… 13 years ago!

The open skylights will flood the gallery with natural light, changing the lighting throughout the day.

Be sure to catch our summer exhibitions before they close September 7th!
Ken Price: Inside/Outside
With Hidden Noise
Electro-dynamic Drawings: Andrew Deutsch and Stephen Vitiello
Rineke Dijkstra and Thomas Struth: See•ing