Marie Watt to speak for Jo Hockenhull Lecture Series

Renowned artist specializes in intricate blankets, expresses heritage through work

RACHEL KOCH, Evergreen reporter

Art is often a form of expression and serves as an emotional outlet for the artist, regardless of the medium.

However, Marie Watt uses her fine art for a much larger purpose. Her artwork embraces her cultural heritage, her political views and her personal values.

Tonight in the Fine Arts Auditorium, Watts will be the first speaker of the Jo Hockenhull Distinguished Lecture series. This series focuses on female artists and is organized in part by the WSU Women’s Studies department.

Watt received an MFA from Yale University in painting and printmaking. She also attended Willamette University and the Institute of American Indian Arts where she pursued other fine arts-related degrees, according to her studio website.

Since then, Watt has specialized in making intricately artistic blankets. She wrote on her website that in several indigenous communities, such as the Seneca and Iroquois nations, blankets often “are given away to honor those who are witness to important life events.”

Currently living in Portland, Oregon, Watt is a member of the Seneca Nation, Faith Price, assistant director of Native American Programs at WSU, said.

One of the programs involved in WSU’s Native American Programs is the Plateau Center for Research and Collaboration. Its purpose is to facilitate the graduation of Native American students from the Columbia Plateau region.

The Plateau Center is co-sponsoring Watt’s lecture alongside WSU Fine Arts. Price said the Plateau Center began its collaboration with Fine Arts at the beginning of the fall semester.

“We’re very excited that they’re bringing a Native American artist,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been looking forward to since the fall, and we’re excited and ready to support her.”

Price also said Watt gathers influence from her Native American culture and often uses her artwork as a statement of activism in its own form.

“She’s going to be talking about indigenous art, politics, activism, feminism and how they all intersect into her art,” Price said.

Marie Watt will speak tonight in the Fine Arts Auditorium, or Room 5062, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. The event is free for all to attend.