Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt, installation view at University Galleries, University of San Diego. Photo by Chandler Hubbard
Marie K. Watt (Native American, Seneca; b. 1967), Companion Species (Word), edition 7/20, 2017. Copper plate etching. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer Collection. 2020.459
On View
Aug 31, 2023–Dec 2, 2023
Main level, East Gallery

Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt from the Collections of Jordan Schnitzer and his Family Foundation in partnership with University Galleries, University of San Diego

Organized by Jordan Schnitzer and His Family Foundation in partnership with University Galleries, University of San Diego

Supported at KAM by Viktoria Ford and Stephen Kaufman; Additional support provided by the IFPDA Foundation.

We gave thanks for the story, for all parts of the story
because it was by the light of those challenges we knew

Joy Harjo (Muscogee / Creek), National Poet Laureate


This retrospective exhibition traces Marie Watt’s career in print from 1996-present. For the first time, Watt’s early work from her MFA program at Yale, and her collaborations with master printers at Crows Shadow Institute, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Tamarind Institute, and more recently Mullowney Printing Company are exhibited alongside the artists monumental scale textiles and sculpture. This exhibition also explores Watt’s evolving practice of convening sewing and printing circles with family, friends and community members. 

Multimedia artist Marie Watt is a storyteller. As a member of the Seneca Nation (one of six that comprise the Haudenosaunee Confederacy) with German-Scots ancestry, her stories draw from Native and non-Native traditions: Greco-Roman myth, pop music and Pop art, Indigenous oral narratives, Star Wars and Star Trek.

Watt reminds us of the stories told by her Seneca ancestors: how the world came to be, what we have to learn from animals, 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.

As a Klamath elder once told her: “My story changes when I know your story.”

Storywork: The Prints of Marie Watt was curated in partnership with the University of San Diego by Dr. John Murphy, Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College.

The exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue that includes an artist interview with Derrick Cartwright, Director of University Galleries, University of San Diego and essays by Dr. Jolene Rickard, Associate Professor Art History at Cornell University, and the exhibition curator, Dr. John Murphy, Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College.

About the Artist

Marie Watt (b. 1967) holds an MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale University; she also has degrees from Willamette University and the Institute of American Indian Arts; and in 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Willamette University.She has attended residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Vermont Studio Center; and has received fellowships from Anonymous Was a Woman, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Harpo Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, and the Native Arts and Culture Foundation, among others.

Watt’s work in important museum collections across the United States. Selected collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Yale University Art Gallery, the Crystal Bridges Museum, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and Renwick Gallery, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the Portland Art Museum. 

Curated by Dr. John Murphy, Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College.

About the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation 

At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon contemporary art gallery, evolving into a lifelong avocation as a collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. Today, the collection has become one of the most important post-war and contemporary collections in all mediums, exceeding 20,000 objects and has grown to be the country’s largest private collection of prints and multiples. He generously lends work from his collection to qualified institutions with no additional fees. The Foundation has organized over 180 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 160 museums. Mr. Schnitzer is also President of Schnitzer Properties, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Portland, Oregon, owning and managing office, multi-tenant industrial, multi-family and retail properties in six western states. 

The Foundation was established in 1997 as a non-profit organization to manage the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. The Foundation publishes scholarly brochures, exhibition catalogues, and catalogues raisonnés in conjunction with exhibitions drawn from the collections. The Foundation also funds museum outreach and programming – especially to lesser served communities – furthering the mission of letting artists speak to us, through their art, on important issues facing society.