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Insights of an Eco Artist

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05: Contemporary Currents - The Art of Marie Watt: Narratives of Care

Venture on a journey through the captivating universe of Marie Watt, an Indigenous artist whose work transcends boundaries and bridges cultures. In this episode, we unravel the intricate layers of Watt's artistry, delving into her profound storytelling, her innovative use of materials, and her profound impact on the art landscape.

We'll be exploring the captivating and thought-provoking work of Marie Watt, an Indigenous artist and a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, who has been pushing the boundaries of art, storytelling, and community engagement. Her work is a testament to the power of creativity in bridging cultures and communities.

In this epsiode we are gonna explore the stories she weaves, the materials she uses, and the impact she's has on the art world.


Marie Watt (b. 1967) is an American artist. She is a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians and also has German-Scot ancestry. Her interdisciplinary work draws from history, biography, Iroquois protofeminism, and Indigenous teachings; in it, she explores the intersection of history, community, and storytelling. Through collaborative actions, she instigates multigenerational and cross-disciplinary conversations that might create a lens and conversation for understanding connectedness to place, one another, and the universe.


Watt reminds us of the stories told by her Seneca ancestors: how the world came to be; what we have to learn from animals; and our ethical obligations to the planet, as well as to past and future generations. She tells stories about humble, everyday materials and objects—blankets, quilts, corn husks, letters, ladders, and dreamcatchers—that carry intimate meanings and memories.

Over the course of her career, Watt has told these stories through prints. The collaborative printmaking process is consistent with Watt’s desire to build communities through art and storytelling. The stories the prints tell are personal, cultural, and universal, dealing with elemental themes of shelter, dreams, the earth and sky, and the cosmos.

Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea

The exhibition Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea examines the perspectives of 48 modern and contemporary artists who offer a broader and more inclusive view of this region, which too often has been dominated by romanticized myths and Euro-American historical accounts. 

The exhibition’s three sections — Caretakers, Memory Makers, and Boundary Breakers — highlight the various ways artists explore singular conceptions of the American West, often demonstrating the resilience of marginalized communities who survived against the odds. The modern and contemporary artists featured in Many Wests reveal that “the West” has always been a place of multiple stories, experiences, and cultures.  

Caretakers examines how artists can redefine what it means to take care of themselves, their communities, and their futures. Featured artists include Ka’ila Farrell-Smith (Klamath Modoc), Awa Tsireh/Alfonso Roybal (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Patrick Nagatani, and Marie Watt (Seneca). Through their work, these artists demonstrate a commitment to the stewardship of land, history, language, and culture. They draw upon personal narratives, communal ties, and collective experience in the American West to honor the past and shape legacies for generations to come. 

Memory Makers explores how artists act as transmitters of cultural memory as they bring forth neglected histories of the West through their work. Featured artists include Jacob Lawrence, Roger Shimomura, Christina Fernandez, and others who go beyond the familiar accounts of European settlers and bring to light lived histories and identities that are essential to a truthful history. 

Boundary Breakers highlights artists that unsettle common beliefs that inform the popular understanding of the American West. Their representations break away from myths and assert their continued presence despite centuries of omission and erasure by mainstream culture. They question simplified notions of identity, affirm their lived experiences, and refute romanticized imagery.


That's a wrap for today's episode. We hope you enjoyed this deep dive into the world of Marie Watt's art. Her ability to blend tradition with contemporary themes and engage communities through her work is truly inspiring.

If you want to see some of Marie Watt's incredible pieces, be sure to check out our show notes for links to her exhibitions and galleries. And don't forget to subscribe to Insights of an Eco artist so you never miss an episode.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes, feel free to reach out to us on our website or through social media. We'd love to hear from you!

Share your work and opinion with us on social media @insightsofanecoartist and use the #IOAEAmariewatt


Have a look at the artist's works:

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