Museums are places of reflection and respite as well as places to learn and work through challenging ideas and painful experiences that are not shared equally in an unjust society. In this video interview, multidisciplinary artist Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Unangaẋ) speaks about the historical divisions between “contemporary” or “American” art and “Native” art that the reinstallation deconstructs, his goals for audience engagement with his participatory installation, and the layered meanings of the words and symbols he uses in the work.
One way to ensure museums remain safe, inclusive, and inspiring spaces is to constantly reevaluate the artworks on gallery walls and invite contemporary artists to share the way they see the world with us. In this video, Apsáalooke artist Wendy Red Star describes her vision for SAM’s updated American art galleries, which let go of white, patriarchal, and heteronormative canons. She also offers a peek at the original artwork she’s creating for American Art: The Stories We Carry and describes the significance of including Native women’s voices when redefining American art.
In redesigning the American art galleries, SAM’s curatorial team wasn’t focused on including artworks that are considered conventionally beautiful or visually engaging. Instead, they looked at every artwork’s relationship to the history of the United States. Watch this video to hear visual artist, installation guest curator, and Wa Na Wari co-founder Inye Wokoma walk through SAM’s pre-renovated American art galleries as he considers society’s existing exclusionary interpretation of American art, being invited to create a new artwork American Art: The Stories We Carry, and the inspiration he found in some of the galleries’ original artworks.
Artworks of the past never cease to offer new lessons, insights, and interpretations. In this video, SAM Emerging Museum Professional of American Art and member of the Seneca nation Kari Karsten discusses her research into Spokane-born artist Kenneth Callahan’s The Accident and the enduring questions artworks such as these can raise, even over 75 years after their creation.
By emphasizing and promoting diversity in the field of art conservation, museum exhibitions become more engaging and artworks are better preserved. Watch this video to hear SAM Emerging Museum Professional of Conservation Caitlyn Fong recount her experiences in helping SAM’s conservation team restore the artworks in American Art: The Stories We Carry and what this installation means to her as a first generation American.