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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations

Photo: Susan Cole

Blanket Stories: Three Sisters, Four Pelts, Sky Woman, Cousin Rose, and All My Relations


Marie Watt

American, born 1967

"As I fold and stack blankets, they begin to form columns that, to me, hold many references: linen closets, architectural braces, memorials (e.g. the Trajan Column), sculpture (e.g. Brancusi), the great totem poles of the Northwest, and the giant conifers among which I grew up. In Native communities, blankets are given away to honor people for witnessing important life events—births and comings-of-age, graduations and marriages, namings and honorings. Among Native people it is as much of a privilege to give a blanket away as to receive one." (Marie Watt)

This piece was acquired by the museum shortly after the gift of the adjacent blanket woven by Susan Pavel, who spent years under the tutletege of an elder weaver to bring back this ancient type. Artist Marie Watt invites us to contemplate the ubiquitous wool blanket—while warmth and comfort are often associated with blankets, the memories and meanings they hold are sometimes less evident. Watt credits her Seneca mother for teaching her the Native lore of Three Sisters—corn, beans and squash—as a source of inspiration. Cousin Rose’s Blanket is a patchwork of material cut from striped wool suits created by Rose Niguma, who took this blanket to Camp Minidoka, Idaho, during her internment. Sky Woman refers to the mythic Seneca woman who helped unite sky and ground, as this stack does. Four pelts are seen in a 4-point blanket referencing the insignia of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which traded furs extensively with Native peoples. Blanket Stories shows gratitude for the many shared blankets and their stories that have come from Watt’s family and the larger community of people who have donated them.

Wool blankets, satin binding, with salvaged industrial yellow cedar timber base
150 x 40 x 40 in. (381 x 101.6 x 101.6cm)
General Acquisition Fund, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Provenance: The artist; [PDX Gallery, Portland, Oregon]; purchased by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2007
Photo: Susan Cole
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySalem, Oregon, Willamette University, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Marie Watt: Lodge, Feb. 4 - Apr. 1, 2012

Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Hearts of our People: Native American Women Artists, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, May 26 - Aug. 18, 2019 (Nashville, Tennessee, Frist Center for Visual Art, Sept. 27, 2019 - Jan. 12, 2020; Washington, D.C., Renwick Gallery, Feb. 23 - May 17 2020).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, American Art: The Stories We Carry, Oct. 20, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesDobkins, Rebecca J., Marie Watt: Lodge, Willamette, OR: Willamette University, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, 2012, illus. 3, pp. 6-7

Ishikawa, Chiyo, ed., A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2007, illus. p. 69.

Darling, Michael et al., Betty Bowen Award: Thirty Years, Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 2009, pp. 64-65, illus. p. 65

Ahlberg, Jill, et al. Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists. Exh. Cat. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2019; p. 239, reproduced cat. no. 85.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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