Seneca, b. 1967
Companion Species (Field), 2017
Reclaimed wool blankets, embroidery floss, thread
Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
Known for her use of found materials, namely blankets, artist Marie Watt adapts and transforms them into new objects, both sculptures and tapestries. Watt views the blanket as a storied object, containing meaning and memory from its user. In Companion Species (Field) (2017), the artist utilizes reclaimed army blankets, which she has sewn together into a massive textile installation. Watt recalled the childhood memory of army blankets kept in the back of her parents’ car. She would wrap them around herself during family road trips. Across the tessellated blankets resides an embroidered wolf, part of the artist’s ongoing interest in the relationship between humanity and canines. “I have been reflecting on dogs—Canis familiaris—as pets, mythological guides and first teachers,” said Watt. “Companion Species addresses the reciprocal relationship humans have with canines throughout history; this story is one of ignorance, stewardship and reciprocity.” The monochromatic nature of the army blankets, in their different earthen shades of green, is punctuated by a jolt of pink and purple French knots that the artist uses to articulate the tongue of the canine, which we see unfurled. The hashmarked dog reclines, relaxed and in a friendly posture, open-mouthed and gazing outward, as if trying to communicate with its companion and/or the viewer.
Marie Watt draws from history, biography, Iroquois protofeminism, and Indigenous teachings, exploring the intersection of history, community, and storytelling. Through collaborative actions she instigates multigenerational and cross-disciplinary conversations that might create a lens for understanding connectedness to place, one another, and the universe. Watt holds an MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University; she also attended Willamette University and the Institute of American Indian Arts. In 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Willamette University. Watt has received fellowships and awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, and the Ford Family Foundation. She was the 2005 recipient of the Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Award and is a 2019 recipient of a Fuel Their Fire residency at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash. Watt’s work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and Yale University Art Gallery.