Content: Historical artifacts, didactic timeline and panels, and interactive stations
This dynamic interactive exhibition takes visitors on a multi-faceted journey through time, exploring the history, culture, and art of the region’s African American community. Beginning with the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the chronological timeline encompasses three centuries of challenges and opportunities that were experienced by people who settled in the Pacific Northwest and called it home.
Dance Theatre of Harlem: Forty Years of Firsts
September 17, 2016 – March 19, 2017
Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts is an exhibition that highlights the many accomplishments of African Americans and other minorities who dared to overcome social norms and prejudices to pursue their passion and pave the way for future generations of world class dancers. The exhibit is organized by Dance Theatre of Harlem, California African American Museum, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington D.C., Dance Theatre of Harlem.
The colorful history and powerful social and artistic impact of the renowned ballet company and school is brought to life in the exhibition’s more than 250 objects, including costumes, historical photographs, set pieces, and documentary video excerpts from four dramatically-staged ballets that are iconic to the company: A Streetcar Named Desire, Creole Giselle, Dougla andFirebird.
In addition to the costumes and staged ballets, exhibition highlights include numerous artifacts including original tour programs, letters from choreographers and dignitaries, magazine articles, design bibles, more than 20 original tour posters from the company’s New York City and worldwide touring seasons over the decades—including Dance Theatre of Harlem’s (DTH) first performance in New York City at the Guggenheim Museum and their first international tour—and an overview of Arthur Mitchell’s career and accomplishments. The exhibition also contains a large one-of-a-kind quilt with embroidered images of signature DTH ballets, and patrons can view a BBC documentary on Arthur Mitchell and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Posing Beauty in African American Culture
April 30, 2016 – September 4, 2016
Posing Beauty presents a century of photographs of black Americans as they wished to see themselves and be seen by others. Among the many distinguished photographers represented are Anthony Barboza, Sheila Pree Bright, Leonard Freed, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Russell Lee, Jamel Shabazz, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Ernest C. Withers.
The exhibition of about 70 photographs is divided into two overlapping sections, “Posing” and “Beauty.”
In “Posing,” subjects present themselves to the camera in photographic studios and less formal settings. They are represented as distinguished, thoughtful, stylish, outrageous, celebratory, and proud. The activist D’Army Bailey wrote, “We had our portraits made to reinforce our own stereotypes, which were positive. We saw ourselves as sharp. . . . Photography provided an extension of ourselves at our best.”
The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper
November 21, 2015 – April 17, 2016
The sixty-eight works in this exhibition date from the late 1910 to 2002 and represent just a fraction of what is contained in one of the country’s major collections of African American art. Included are drawings, etchings, lithographs, watercolors, pastels, acrylics, gouaches, linoleum and color screen prints by such noted artists as Ron Adams, Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, John Biggers, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Eldizer Cortor, Margaret Burroughs, and many other outstanding lesser known artists.
Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution
Animation Art from Classic Cartoons of the 1970s.
November 22, 2014 – May 3, 2015
Organized and toured by the Museum of Uncut Funk
This special exhibition commemorates the 40th anniversaries of 1970s Saturday morning cartoons that featured positive black characters for the first time in television history. The exhibition features sixty original production cels and drawings used to produce these cartoons. Also included are images from the animated opening to Soul Train.
Pitch Black: African American Baseball in Washington
February 1 – November 9, 2014
Organized by NAAM
Baseball in Washington’s black communities has a strong but quiet history. Most people know the segregated history of our national pastime, but few know how the story played out on the baseball fields in Seattle and throughout Washington. Left without a professional Negro Leagues team until 1946, much of our State’s black baseball history was undocumented. Pitch Black features vignettes of this rich history using iconic artifacts, photographs, and oral histories.
Marita Dingus: Buddha as an African Enslaved
October 12, 2013 – January 12, 2014
On loan from the Tacoma Art Museum
Artist Marita Dingus, inspired by a 60-foot tall standing Buddha that she saw in Beijing in 1995, made Buddha as an African Enslaved, in Texas, where she was researching the history of American slavery. When Dingus installed the piece sideways in an art gallery, her black Buddha, compressed between ceiling and floor, recalled old diagrams of slave ships, which showed “human cargo stacked like books on a shelf.” Dingus then added long tresses of hair that she made of fabric chains. This Buddha is a monument to endurance. Its overwhelming scale and non-aggressive demeanor suggest the moral force of non-violence as preached by Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bearing Witness from Another Place: James Baldwin in Turkey
Photographs by Sedat Pakay
October 20, 2012 – September 29, 2013
This exhibition shares rarely seen photographs of James Baldwin in Turkey taken by his friend Sedat Pakay. Piercingly intimate and beautifully candid, these images capture the vibrant world of acquaintances, friends and collaborators Baldwin cultivated while living intermittingly in Turkey from 1961-1971.
Curator: Brian J. Carter
Xenobia Bailey: The Aesthetics of Funk
October 29, 2011 – May 6, 2012
Organized by NAAM
This exhibition featured the work of Seattle native Xenobia Bailey. With a background in industrial design and fiber arts, Bailey’s crochet works explore the ways history, memory, style, spirituality and social performance intersect. Incorporating a vast array of social and visual issues, Bailey’s solo show at NAAM transformed the gallery into a gathering/viewing/participatory space where the domestically charged crochet objects incited conversation and public engagement. Centered on the idea of an African American visual aesthetic, the installation will include large scale wall mandalas, sculptural hat forms and other elements. Xenobia dedicated this exhibition to her parents, Joseph and Alice (Bobby) Bailey.
Guest Curator: Sandra Jackson-Dumont
Checking Our Pulse
October 29, 2010 – September 30, 2011
Organized by NAAM
“The Northwest African American Museum is proud to partner with Swedish Medical Center on an exciting new exhibition, “Checking Our Pulse.” The exhibit focuses on health in the local African American community. It will share the stories and achievements of African American medical professionals and probe the realities of critical health issues impacting the Black community in the Puget Sound.
Curated by Brian J. Carter. Special thanks to Sherry Williams, Flavia Zuniga-West and Chieko Phillips”
[the traveling component for this exhibition went to several Swedish Hospital Sites, UW campus, as well as other locations]
East by Northwest: Ethiopian Journeys to the Northwest
November 14, 2009 – October 4, 2010
Organized by NAAM
“Over the past several decades the Pacific Northwest has welcomed a growing community of immigrants from Africa’s eastern countries. These newcomers from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and beyond bring the vitality and traditions of their diverse cultures to cities throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho. This exhibition explores only one culture in this wonderful collection of new neighbors.”
– Seattle’s Ethiopian community
From restaurant owners to surgeons, teachers to corporate executives, Ethiopian immigrants are contributing their experience and talent to the myriad of professions, social organizations, community groups, political parties, and regional institutions that define American culture. Indelibly marking this region’s cultural landscape, the Ethiopian community has provided a much appreciated infusion of language, cuisine, history, dress, music, sports, art, laughter and life.
Stories That Cover Us
March 18, 2009 – October 4, 2009
Organized by NAAM
In this exhibition, the women of the Pacific Northwest African American Quilters bravely gave us access to their lives- brimming with memories, hopes, joys, milestones, losses, passions and accomplishments. Though the quilts reflect the lives these particular women had lived, their stories were so familiar and inviting as to convince us they spoke on our behalf as well. The stories woven into these quilts tell of an African American community living at this particular time in history, in this particular place.
Curated by Brian J. Carter, Deputy Director. Special thanks to Barbara Johns, Gwen Maxwell-Williams, Jawara O’Connor.
Making a Life, Creating a World: Jacob Lawrence and James W. Washington Jr.
March 8, 2008 – February 8, 2009
Organized by NAAM
The opening exhibit in the Northwest Gallery featured the work and lives of two artists who profoundly reshaped our region’s cultural landscape, Jacob Lawrence and James W. Washington Jr. This exhibition was as personal as any story that attempts to relate the meaning of a life to a community. The artwork and objects here revealed the interests and passions of two artists who were central in helping us understand the power of creativity. They lived among us not as mythic characters but as neighbors and friends and they left human tracks.
We Are One
September 23 – October 27, 2017
We Are One explores the historical cultural diversity that has long influenced and defined Seattle’s Central Area. Featuring intimate depictions of prosaic life, the exhibit pays homage to the various communities of color that represent the city’s history. Spotlighted in paintings bursting with vibrant colors, diverse styles and inspired materials are key figures, landmarks and communities from the Central Area between 1840 and today.
An Elegant Utility
January 28 – September 3, 2017
Local artist, Inye Wokoma’s exhibit explores the creation of place, identity, and the Northwest African-American community that has historically characterized Seattle’s Central District neighborhood by interrogating the ways in which structural violence produced the precarious conditions his family was forced to navigate after settling in the Central District during the Great Migration. Wokoma examines archived family photographs, artifacts, and oral histories to illuminate how building community and claiming space allowed them to materialize their aspirations. Layered narratives also examine how shifting systemic oppression has facilitated the erasure of Black presence which once defined the Central District.
This exhibit urges us to recognize the relationship between redlining, racial restrictive covenants, inaccessible resources and the current displacement of Black people. How do we preserve and continue to build identity, community, and place as rapid processes of gentrification change the Central District?
Black Bodies in Propaganda
October 29, 2016 – January 15, 2017
Propaganda is used to mobilize people in times of war. Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster presents 33 posters, most targeting Africans and African-American civilians in times of war. These carefully designed works of art were aimed at mobilizing people of color in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands.
100% Kanekalon: The Untold Story of the Marginalized Matriarch
June 4 – October 16, 2016
100% Kanekalon tells a story of the matriarch that exists in the margins, free of any privileged agenda, where satire exterminates appropriation.
The marginalized matriarch’s story remains in the margins because it shouldn’t be understood by everyone. It can only be understood by those who need to understand. Originating from an inherent need to protect and identify family and self in a world where no protection is offered and no sense of identity is available- the marginalized matriarch’s strength, character, and wisdom exist independent of judgment or a perceptible state of “normal” where everything from style to sexuality remains liquid and can be expressed as sacred or superficial.
Created and curated by artist Tariqa Waters
The Atomic Frontier: Black Life at Hanfort
October 31, 2015 – March 6, 2016
As the US entered World War II at the close of 1941, the perceived threat of an imminent mainland attack by the Japanese Imperial forces spurred the possibility of nuclear warfare into a reality. Under the umbrella organization of the Manhattan Project, the War Department – with the E.I. duPont de Nemours & Company as the main subcontractor – recruited thousands of people to quickly construct several nuclear weapons production facilities across the country.
It is little known that one of these sites was located in eastern Washington State, and even lesser known that blacks made up a significant percentage of the recruits to the Hanford Engineer Works facility. The Atomic Frontier: Black Life at Hanford uncovers what it was like to work in secrecy on an undisclosed “war project” in the early 1940s, an experience complicated by discrimination, segregation, and the unfamiliar landscape of eastern Washington. Even after the war ended, this bourgeoning black community persisted in making a permanent home in the Tri-Cities for themselves and future generations.
Eyes to Dream: A Project Room by C. Davida Ingram
April 4 – July 5, 2015
Award-winning artist and curator C. Davida Ingram creates projects that examine race, gender, sexuality and other markers of identity. Her recent collaborations stereoTYPE and I Wish a Mother***** Would explore the aesthetics and innate beauty of both racial and social justice. Working in different mediums, Ingram poses simple questions which encourage visitor participation and rich, open-ended answers. Eyes to Dream highlights recent work by Ingram and selections from artist Barbara Earl Thomas and poets Duriel E. Harris, francine j. harris. Sound Design by Lara Davis, Robb Kunz and Ari Lindholm.
The Fabric of Our Lives: Tales of Dirty Laundry, White Sheets, and Bodies—in parts.
January 24, 2014 – March 22, 2015
Using the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment as fodder, artist Anastacia Tolbert has transformed our PACCAR Gallery into an immersive histio-artistic experience. Tolbert provides her artistic interpretation and a multitude of thoroughfares through which visitors can exchange with the exhibit information about to the impact of the 13th Amendment.
Onyx Fine Arts Collective: A Decade of Art
September 19, 2014 – Jan 11, 2015
Organized by NAAM and Onyx Fine Arts Collective
A Decade of Art features prize-winning artists from exhibitions that have been presented annually by the Onyx Fine Arts Collective over the last ten years. It includes artwork in diverse styles and media from established artists to promising new-comers in the local arts community. The mission of Onyx Fine Arts Collective is to give greater visibility and opportunities to artists of African descent. Imbued with the properties of the black gem stone that represents positive energy, guards against negativity, fortifies self-confidence and sharpens the senses, Onyx inspires artists to develop and grow creatively and professionally.
AFROS: A Celebration of Natural Hair
June 6 – September 7, 2014
Organized and toured by the Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Over five years, photographer Michael July approached a variety of individuals and asked them to participate as subject models for a volume he was creating to chronicle the evolution of the Afro in America. This exhibit shows pictorially the power, beauty and glorious nature of the ‘Fro and tells the deeper “hairstory” of each of its models. This exhibition, inspired by the original book, captures the spirit and essence of the Afro today and pays homage to the historic significance of natural hair iconic voyagers.
Marita Dingus: At Home
January 18 – May 26, 2014
Organized by NAAM
Content: baskets, quilts, mixed media sculptures, and photographs
Baskets, quilts, fences, and dolls are all sculpture to Marita Dingus, whether they’re displayed on the wall, used for storage, or enclosing her pet goats. Objects from Dingus’s home, including her collection of African and Caribbean figures, are the basis of this intimate and revealing exhibition. In contrast with the gallery setting, a series of photographs taken by Spike Mafford will show how the artist actually lives with her art.
Guest Curator: Vicki Halper
Marita Dingus: Fashion Free-For-All
August 17, 2013 – January 5, 2014
Organized by NAAM
Marita Dingus: Fashion Free-for-All exhibits complete outfits and accessories made by the artist as part of her personal wardrobe between 2002 and 2008.
In creating her clothing, Dingus uses the same techniques and aesthetic asin her figurative sculpture-recycled and reconfigured materials, mixed media, and raw exuberance. “There’s no difference between my art and my clothing,” she says. “Of course I want to cut up and modify both.”
Dingus made the garments to celebrate her return to the Northwest after four years of living in the deep South, a culture that she found alien and sometimes frightening. (In 1998, James Byrd, Jr. was tied to a truck and dragged to his death in Texas, where she was then living.) Like many in the art world, she once dressed in black. In the South, she wore khaki and white, “trying to look invisible.” Back in the Seattle area, she expressed her relief by dressing herself in colorful, improvised, and lighthearted clothing.
Guest Curator: Vicki Halper
book of the bound
December 15, 2012 – July 28, 2013
Organized by NAAM
Carletta Carrington Wilson’s most-recent series of mixed-media collage layers symbols of language, silence, bodies, and bondage to honor the unheard voices of the enslaved.
Traveling shows with original content added
Tacoma’s Civil Rights Struggle: African Americans Leading the Way
February 5 – December 20, 2009
Norman B. and Constance Rice Legacy Hall
This timely exhibition explores the trials and tribulations of the Civil Rights movement in Washington State’s city of Tacoma and features more than 100 artifacts including reports, photographs, articles and other artifacts, many not seen in more than half a century. The exhibit focuses on the years from 1960-72, although it explores history beginning at the end of World War II when Tacoma’s African American population grew by nearly 400%. In the years following the war, Tacoma’s Civil Rights movement concentrated on obtaining equal rights and the exhibit provides insight into housing issues , local activism and events leading up to passage of the Congressional Equal Rights Amendment in 1972. The display concludes with a look at how the equal rights effort continues today.
This traveling exhibition was organized by the Washington State History Museum and the Tacoma Civil Rights Project.
April 17, 2010 – December 25, 2010
Norman B. and Constance Rice Legacy Hall
NAAM is excited to offer an exhibition documenting the exciting jazz scene that flourished in the Northwest between 1930 and 1960. Composed of contemporary portraits of jazz-era legends, vintage photographs and historic artifacts, After Hours captures the pulsating atmosphere and entertaining characters of the era. Focusing on the vibrant jazz scenes in three Northwest cities-Portland, Seattle & Spokane- the exhibition will look at the ways in which the clubs, performers, and music shaped the rhythms of each city.
INDIVISIBLE: African-Native American Lives in the Americas
August 20,2011 – October 16, 2011
To IndiVisible, NAAM adds the story of Julia Jacob. Though labeled “Negro” at birth, Julia was adopted by Chief Jacob of the Suquamish tribe in the early 1870s. Julia learned the lifeways of the tribe, specifically medicine making, Basket weaving, and speaking Lushootseed, and passed her knowledge to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Today, Julia’s family continues to tell her story and preserve Suquamish traditions. With this exhibition and additional programming, NAAM will tell a lesser known story of cultural blending and probe further into African American Native American cultural intersections in our society, our community and our personal histories.
The Test: The Tuskegee Project
May 26, 2012 – September 30, 2012
This traveling exhibition tells the story of the first African American aviation units in the U.S. military to serve in combat. It examines the major campaigns and operations in which the Tuskegee Airmen of the 99th FS and the 332nd FG participated, the aircraft they used, and the prejudice and racism they faced during a time when many doubted African Americans were fit to serve as fighter pilots. NAAM is excited to announce that The Test also honors members of the local Sam Bruce Chapter of the Tuskegee Airman, Inc.
Legacy Hall Foyer
Spirit in Nature
February 23, 2017 – May 28, 2017
Earline Alston’s artistic processes includes: watercolor, infused acrylic, chalk and pastel, oil pastel and ink on paper. This animated exhibit, Spirit in Nature engages the viewer to see how art is used to create a meditative experience. Alston combines poetry with visual art to express emotions and thoughts.
Self Portraits: YOUTH DOCENT/CURATOR PROGRAM
February 12 – August 31, 2008
In partnership with the Seattle Youth Employment Program, NAAM is proud to present its first annual Youth Docent/Curator exhibition- Self Portraits. Six local high school students came together at NAAM to be introduced to the history, philosophy, forms and practices of museum work. This pilot program in visual learning was designed to inspire a small group of students to engage with the Museum as a safe and nurturing gathering-place to explore their history, culture and identity. Both talented and dedicated, this group of teens designed and mounted an inspirational exhibit that shares the stories of their personal experiences. This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to engage with and better understand the lives of our youth: their dreams, accomplishments, passions, hopes and concerns. This exhibition will run from July 4, 2008-August 31, 2008. The students will provide guided tours of the Museum’s galleries, as well as their own exhibits, serving visitors as docents through the month of July.
Jackie and Me display for Seattle Children’s Theater performance of Jackie and Me in summer of 2011.
Our Porters created for Seattle Rep’s performance of Pullman Porter Blues in Fall 2012 and currently on display at NAAM.