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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive


Nancy Worden

American, 1954 - 2021

Nancy Worden explains the inspiration and the title for this necklace in the following response (1998):

"This piece was inspired by a Mesquakie bear claw necklace I saw at the Seattle Art Museum in 1993 when they showed the Chandler-Pohrt collection in an exhibition entitled Art of the American Indian Frontier. It was a very powerful and haunting piece. It was also inspired by a recent acquisition of land in Kittitas County, where I grew up. All of a sudden, I was forced to deal with hunters and hunting again, (something I hadn't thought about in years) because my land is in an area where people go to hunt. That same year, I considered how I could get a "shot" with my camera-a souvenir to take home. The combined experiences prompted an evaluation of human behavior-why do we always have to hunt animals? It's all the same, whether we use a camera or a gun, we are disturbing their habitat. Then, while I was working on the necklace, Princess Diana was killed, fleeing from the cameras that hunted her her whole adult life. So it seemed fitting to put her photo in the piece-set in a camera lens. The piece is about hunting and shooting, using a camera or a gun. "Dead or Alive" is an old cliché from the movies and seemed an appropriate title for a piece about our obsession with capturing animals or a beautiful person. For some reason we have to have a piece of them to take home, whether they are dead or alive."

Silver, brass, mink, resin bear claws, coin, taxidermy eyes, military buttons, and found objects
24 x 2 3/4 x 1 1/2" (61 x 7 x 3.8 cm)
Anne Gould Hauberg Northwest Crafts Fund and Mark Tobey Estate Fund
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "Anne Gerber Biennial: 2000 1/2: going forward looking back", May 8, 2000 - August 4, 2000

Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, "Torch Song: Fifty Years of Northwest Jewelry", July 11, - September 7, 1998 7/11-9/7/1998

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, "A Bead Quiz", July 1, 2008 - July 1, 2009, (7/1/2008 - 7/1/2009)
Published ReferencesLeBaron, Michelle; Susan Noyes Platt, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, "Loud Bones: The Jewelry of Nancy Worden", University of Washington Press, 2009, pg. 22-23 and 77

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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