Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map Exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum

By Deanna Lane, 20 April, 2024

Walking into the Seattle Art Museum to experience this once in a lifetime retrospective was emotionally gut wrenching. It was hard not to see think "what took so long!" In the 60 years that Jaune Quick to-See has been creating art it took until 2022 for the Whitney to feature the first solo retrospective of a Native artist. That collection eventually made its way to Seattle as a traveling exhibition for an Salish artist that hails from the Flathead reservation in Montana. In essence she had to circle around the globe multiple times doing groupand solo shows to get the way overdue attention she deserves from the elite art institutions that occupy Indigenous lands.

Our first introduction to Jaune Quick-to-See was in grad school in New Mexico where she had a solo show, and lived at that time, that pulled us in with her intense in your face political content and scale- experimenting in all manner of media. It felt like "Finally" for real very confrontational commentary about colonialism's scourge. So imagine that kicked up 1000%. Several galleries on the 4th floor held a vast collection of some of her most probing and provocative pieces. You can literally become entranced with one piece with the layers of social, environmental and political commentary along with varied applications of paint, fabric, news articles, etc.  

samThese are definitive multi-media projects that dare you to think about the lasting impacts of imperialism's trajectory over 500 years on Turtle Island. As you enter there is a piece that states "Celebrate 40,000 Years of American Art" in what appears to be a trail of Tears march depicted by large shadowy rabbits.  Our heart was in our our throat taking it all in thinking "when will ever see so much of her art in one place again?" Then seeing the "Grey Canyon Group" exhibit 1978-1980, at our stomping grounds the Gallery at the American Indian Community House, filled us with absolute sweet nostalgia.

When you go plan to spend plenty of time with these works that all take a deep dive in the topics they cover: whether it's dealing with feminism, environmental degradation, colonizers or their henchmen (Custer absolutely toyed with in a massive print project). Jaune Quick-to-SalSee Smith is unapologetically calling out and holding oppressive regimes accountable. 

On view through May 12, 2024, Seattle Art Museum, Simonyi Special Exhibition Gallery

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