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Women artists take over Seattle Art Museum

Associated Press Modified: October 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: October 14, 2012

"We wanted to insure we weren't steering away from uncomfortable works of art because they were uncomfortable," said Marisa Sanchez, SAM's associate curator of modern and contemporary art, who co-curated Elles: Pompidou with Cecile Debray, curator of modern collections at the Pompidou.

One of Sanchez's favorite pieces in the show is found in the "bodies" room: a video by Israeli artist Sigalit Landau called "Barbed Hula." The performance piece shows a naked woman using a barbed wire hula hoop while standing on a beach. Sanchez says the piece makes her think about beauty and endurance and women in culture.

"It is OK that any art makes one uncomfortable because it allows for another conversation to open up about what is it about this work that is unsettling," Sanchez said.

The curator hopes people won't shy away from the exhibit even if they are concerned about feeling unsettled.

When asked what she thought about bringing children to see the exhibit, she said parents will have to make that decision themselves. Children may be shocked by some things in the show, Sanchez acknowledged, but mature adults may be as well.

She notes that the exhibit was designed to allow visitors to walk around the most mature pieces, but there is a tremendous amount of material that is less provocative.

Sanchez hopes some people will walk away from the museum wondering why society considers naked women in Renaissance paintings to be totally acceptable for all audiences but aren't as comfortable with female bodies in photos and videos in modern art.

In addition to thinking about the art and how visitors will interact with it, Sanchez said the museum also got more in touch with the Seattle museum's feminine side.

They found that about 6 percent of Seattle's collection is credited to female artists, in contrast to the Pompidou's 18 percent. Part of the explanation for that is the preponderance of Asian and native artworks in Seattle, many of which many have had women contributors but seldom had women credited.


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If you go...

SEATTLE ART MUSEUM: , Elles: Pompidou Oct. 11, 2012-Jan. 13, 2013, Elles: SAM Oct. 11, 2012-Feb. 17, 2013 at 1300 1st Ave., Seattle. Admission to the museum and the special exhibits, 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and open until 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. $23 adults, $20 seniors and military, $12 students and teens, free for children 12 and under. Tickets are $3 less all day Thursday and after 5 p.m. Friday.