Remarkable images bring water’s myriad meanings to life

This still from The Boat People, a film shot in the Philippines following five children as they travel by sea, collecting objects, is one of many evocative artworks on display at Seattle Art Museum’s exhibition Our Blue Planet: Global visions of water


4 May 2022

Tuan Andrew Nguyen 2021. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York

Seattle Art Museum

FROM its pure essence to its significance in culture and society, water takes on rousing and inventive forms in these artworks from Our Blue Planet: Global visions of water, an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum in Washington. The show explores one of the world’s most crucial resources through more than 80 artistic interpretations.

The Garden of Earthly Delights V, ca. 2004, Raqib Shaw, mixed media on board, 47 5/8 x 83 7/8 in. Gift of Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, 2004.97 ? Raqib Shaw

Raqib Shaw


At top is a still from The Boat People by Tuan Andrew Nguyen. Shot in the Philippines, the film follows five children as they travel by sea, collecting objects. Above is The Garden of Earthly Delights V, Raqib Shaw’s mixed-media depiction of mystical underwater creatures, inspired by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.

Nooksack, 2005, Claude Zervas, CCF (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps, wire, electronics, steel, 36 x 96 x 216 in. Gift of John and Shari Behnke, Rena Bransten, Carlos Garcia and James Harris, David Lewis, Kim Richter, Josef Vascovitz, Robin Wright, Dawn Zervas, and the Contemporary Arts Council, Seattle Art Museum in honor of Lisa Corrin, 2005.140 ? Claude Zervas

Claude Zervas

Mirage 24, 2018, Adrienne Elise Tarver, American, born 1985, ink on paper, 5 ? x 4 in., Josef Vascovitz and Lisa Goodman

Adrienne Elise Tarver

Above shows: Nooksack, a sculpture by Claude Zervas made from wire and cold-cathode fluorescent lamps that mimics the form of the Nooksack river in Washington state; Mirage 24 by Adrienne Elise Tarver, part of her watercolour series of nude women lounging and swimming in tropical environments; and below, Mask of Kumugwe’ (Chief of the Sea), an alder and red-cedar-bark mask made around 1880 by the Kwakwaka’wakw Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast, whose culture and traditions are centred on the natural environment.

Mask of ?umugwe? (Chief of the Sea), ca. 1880 Native American, Kwakwaka'wakw Alder, red cedar bark, cloth, paint 19 1/4 x 17 x 6 in. (48.9 x 43.18 x 15.24 cm) Gift of John H. Hauberg, 91.1.30

Mask of Ḱumugwe’ (Chief of the Sea), ca. 1880 Native American

Our Blue Planet is on display at the Seattle Art Museum until 30 May.

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