Destination: The SAM, review by Tammy Nguyen

All photos by Tammy Nguyen

Destination:  The SAM

An unknown time traveler in Seattle disclosed some not-so-confidential information about a portal in the city not too far from the famous Public Market once he verified my association with DOT.  He told me the common folk knew the place as the Seattle Art Museum, but for time travel enthusiasts like yours truly, the code word for reference was “SAM.”

All jokes aside, I was impressed upon my first visit to the SAM.  I never would have guessed it to be an art museum from the exterior because it was very modern looking and similar to the skyscrapers of the big companies in the city.  On the first floor, there was a string of white cars hanging from the ceiling with burst of light coming out from the interior.  This installation was called Inopportune: Stage One, 2004 by Cai Guo-Qiang and I am sure I have even seen it in a movie not too long ago.

Picturing the Artist was a photographic collection of profound portraits of people from diverse artistic backgrounds, such as writers, dancers and photographers to name a few.  These stunning prints captured the artist in their essence and showcased them at their specialized craft.  I enjoyed this exhibition because not only were the subjects diverse in what they were known for, but also because the portraits were taken by different photographers, who all had unique perspectives on how to frame their subjects.  By looking at this body of work, I was able to get a better idea on how I could frame my subjects to make more interesting shots.

The Porcelain Room was another breathtaking exhibition.  A whole entire room to showcase an extensive collection of dinnerware and sculptures made out of porcelain from European and Asian countries dating as far as the 7th century!  The exquisite and intricate details on many of the pieces show how talented the crafters were.  The lighting in the room directed the viewer’s attention to the pieces while also making the atmosphere quite enchanting.  This was definitely one of the more memorable exhibitions in my opinion.

However, my favorite installation during my visit to the SAM was Some/One by DO-Ho Suh made in 2001.  He used 40,000 dog-tags in order to sculpt a robe-like form, which I think is such an incredible task already.  Although each individual dog-tag was “stamped with invented words and nonsensical arrangements of characters,” so as to not bring attention to unique identity, the viewer can easily make the connection of dog-tags to military memorabilia, which ironically identifies the individual it was made for.  Considering all of the casualties that have occurred from the wars the US has been involved with, there is a powerful message of unity between all of the individuals.  This work gives a whole new meaning to the saying: “All for one and one for all.”

So next time you are in the rainy city of Seattle, and want to time travel, stop by the SAM.

Tammy Nguyen

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Photography into Sculpture by Jay Dawes