Marie Watt

Marie Watt (born 1967) is a contemporary artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. Enrolled in the Senaca Nation of Indians, Watt has created work primarily with textile arts and community collaboration centered on diverse Native American themes.

Marie Watt
Born1967 (1967)
NationalitySeneca Nation of New York
EducationMFA, Yale University School of Art
BS Willamette University
AFA Institute of American Indian Arts
Known forinstallation, printmaking
Notable work
Blanket Stories[1]
Awards2009 Bonnie Bronson Award
Contemporary Northwest Art Award
Betty Bowen Award[2]
Patron(s)Willamette University
Seattle City Light
Portland Community College[2]


Marie Watt was born in 1967 in Seattle, Washington.[2] She majored in Speech Communications and Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.[3] She also explored museum studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.[4] She holds an AFA degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts, a BS degree from Willamette University and an MFA degree in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University.[5] Watt is a member of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation and her father's family were Wyoming ranchers.[6] These two factors in her background have influenced her artwork; Watt describes herself as "half Cowboy and half Indian."[5][6]


Watt works primarily with blankets as a material in her installation and collaborative works. She also prints lithography. For her sculpture and installation, she uses a variety of materials, including everyday objects, as well as textiles, alabaster, slate, and cornhusks. She cites Pop art, Abstract Expressionism, and indigenous visual traditions as sources for her work.[7] Watt had a studio in Portland, Oregon and started experimenting with materials, such as corn husk, then began experimenting with woven blankets.[4] In 2002, her stone sculpture Pedestrian was installed along the east bank of the Willamette River in Portland. Her work has appeared in several exhibitions in the Pacific Northwest.[8]

Watt involves community effort when creating artworks. Her project Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones at the Tacoma Art Museum involved creating large-scale installations out of blankets donated by the community.[9] Not only are the blankets the medium but "Watt believes that blankets provide access to social connections, historical traditions, and cross-cultural meanings."[9] Watt hosts sewing circles, groups who gather and work such as with the piece Forget me not: Mothers and Sons in which they constructed portraits of servicemen (and one woman) from Oregon killed in the Iraqi war.[10]


In September 2004, as part of the Continuum 12 artists series, an exhibit of her work opened in New York City and the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian. The exhibit included Blanket Stories, a sculpture made of two towers of wool blankets, with each stack sewn together with a central thread. She collected the blankets over several years, including many Hudson's Bay point blankets that were given to Native Americans in trade by the Hudson's Bay Company during the 19th century.

In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned Watt to produce a site-specific artwork for their Seattle campus.[5] The work, entitled Blanket Stories: Matriarch, Guardian and Seven Generations, is a 14-foot column of wool blankets from all over the world and is located in the building's lobby. Describing how the materials fit this specific location, Watt wrote, "It's the first column I've made with the explicit goal of collecting and integrating blankets from around the world, echoing the Foundation's global mission; the column will be constructed of reclaimed blankets and reclaimed cedar, in resonance with the campus' goal of attaining LEED Gold certification."[11]

In 2014, 350 people contributed to an outdoor sculpture at Tacoma Art Museum. The towers she made were cast in bronze and she posted a micro-website with stories behind each blanket. Watt listens to her material and pulls from a deep sense of community and narrative to create works with history. Her works are both figurative and abstract.[4]

Watt is currently a professor at Portland Community College, and is the coordinator of its Northview Gallery.

Selected ExhibitionsEdit

Awards and FellowshipsEdit


  1. ^ a b Tremblay, Gail. "Marie Watt." Museum of Contemporary Native Arts: Vision Project. (retrieved May 10, 2011)
  2. ^ a b c "Visiting Artist Series: Marie Watt." Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine University of Oregon: Visiting Artist Series: Marie Watt|School of Architecture and Allied Arts - University of Oregon. (retrieved May 10, 2011)
  3. ^ "Marie Watt | The Ford Family Foundation". Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Lovelace, Joyce (Spring 2017). "Gather Round". American Craft. 77: 36–43.
  5. ^ a b c "Marie Watt". Fabric Workshop and Museum. Retrieved February 23, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b "Marie Watt". Laumeier Sculpture Park. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  7. ^ "Marie Watt Studio". Retrieved March 8, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Marie Watt at PDX, PORT, Portland
  9. ^ a b Studio, Marie Watt. "About Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek | Marie Watt | Tacoma Art Museum". Archived from the original on February 6, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  10. ^ "Marie Watt's Sewing Circle". Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  11. ^ "Blanket Stories at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's new campus". Marie Watt Studio. Retrieved February 23, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection" (PDF). Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  13. ^, Anagram, LLC-. "Unsuspected Possibilities". SITE Santa Fe. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  14. ^ "Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019". Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  15. ^ "Indelible Ink: Native Women, Printmaking, Collaboration – UNM Art Museum". Retrieved March 31, 2021.

External linksEdit