IN THE SPIRIT Northwest Native Festival will go virtual for 2020

The annual IN THE SPIRIT Virtual Arts Market and Northwest Native Festival…

TACOMA, Wash — The Washington State Historical Society (WSHS), Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), and Museum of Glass (MOG) invite you to the annual IN THE SPIRIT Virtual Arts Market and Northwest Native Festival, a celebration of Native cultures. Normally held as a free, day-long indoor/outdoor festival at all three museums, this year the celebration will take place online with events held on multiple days from September 10-October 17, 2020.

The 2020 IN THE SPIRIT exhibition, festival and events have been guided by a thoughtful advisory committee, shepherded by Michael Finley, Washington State Historical Society’s tribal liaison, and Molly Wilmoth, lead program manager at WSHS.

“I’m honored to be working with the team to bring this year’s festival forward through a virtual platform. The feedback we received from our tribal partners was invaluable in our endeavor to provide a meaningful virtual experience for everyone,” said Finley.

IN THE SPIRIT includes representation from more than 20 Indigenous nations and presents opportunities to learn about diverse cultures and art through online programming from all three museums. There will be 16 virtual events.

The festival begins on September 10 with an intimate look at the work featured in the IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition in conversation with the exhibition’s jurors, followed by the presentation of the annual exhibition awards.

Other events will include online conversations with artists and fashion designers in their studios and Meet The Artist video interviews.

A virtual arts market will also open September 10, hosting vendors of many cultural and tribal affiliations who have created jewelry, textiles, leather goods, fine art and more.

The October 17 closing finale features a performance by and conversation with the band Khu.éex’, playing their one-of-a-kind mix of song and spoken word with atmospheric, visionary jazz improvisation. See for the full event schedule.

“When The Evergreen State College Longhouse first partnered with the Washington State Historical Society to host a Native arts market and exhibition, both organizations saw it as an opportunity to showcase the Northwest’s vibrant world of Native arts and cultures. It has always been a labor of love,” said Laura VerMeulen (Tlingit, Haida), assistant director at The Evergreen State College Longhouse.

“One of our early hopes for the festival was that it would expand to include the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum who also engage in and support living Native artists, which I think helps educate the public that Native arts, artists and cultures are alive and well here in the Pacific Northwest as well as across the continent. The Longhouse formed life-long friendships in those early days, and we are so proud of the work WSHS has continued since,” Ver Meulen added. “Today visitors can take their time with the works in the virtual exhibition to really visit and explore works by artists working in an amazing diversity of media who are expressing the ideas of their time. Every time a show goes up, the next generation of Native artists is watching with hope and a vision for themselves.”

A crowd favorite among the festival events during recent years has been the Native designer fashion show at Tacoma Art Museum. While the runway show cannot happen this year, TAM looks forward to sharing interviews with two designers, including a September 25 home studio tour with Mary Kelsay (Unangax /Unangan) of MEKA Clothing, who has shown her work at TAM since 2013. She will talk about her influences and how the pandemic has changed her work. On October 2, TAM will post a talk with Jacinthe TwoBulls, a Haida weaver who uses traditional weaving techniques to create wearable art.

Artist spotlights hosted by WSHS feature artists whose work is included in this year’s IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts exhibition.

On September 24, hear from Peter Boome (Upper Skagit) about Prayer Rattles (male, female) and sunrise on the mountains; on October 1, see an interview with Lily Hope (Tlingit) who created the Chilkat Protector mask; and on October 8, meet artist Dan Friday (Lummi) as he describes the creation and inspiration behind his works Owl Totem and Forager Totem. Friday’s work Cedar Star Basket, a glass piece created in 2018, was selected for the Spirit of the Northwest Award, People’s Choice Award, and the Purchase Prize winner in the 2019 exhibition and is now in Washington State Historical Society’s permanent collection.

The Museum of Glass will host multiple Meet the Artist videos, including Rande Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw), Joe Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation), Preston Singletary (Tlingit), and others.

“We are looking forward to hosting the annual IN THE SPIRIT festival in a new virtual format. While we are not able to gather together in person this year, this annual celebration of Indigenous creativity, resilience, culture, and community feels particularly essential in this challenging moment,” said Christina Westpheling, director of education and community engagement at Tacoma Art Museum. “The arts bring us together in joy and solace, and we cannot wait to share these events with our communities, and they’ll be accessible via tablet, laptop, computer and smartphone.”

For the full schedule and artist line-up, visit:

About The Washington State Historical Society:

The Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Washington State History Museum is located in Tacoma’s downtown core along Pacific Avenue. The museum features permanent exhibitions, unique rotating exhibitions, and dynamic traveling exhibitions. WSHM is one of six museums in the thriving Tacoma Museum District.

Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

Hours: *Currently closed in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

About Tacoma Art Museum:

Tacoma Art Museum is an anchor in Tacoma’s downtown with a mission of connecting people through art. TAM’s collection contains more than 5,000 works, with an emphasis on the art and artists of the Northwest and broader Western region. The collection includes the largest retrospective museum collection of glass art by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly on permanent view; the most significant collection of studio art jewelry by Northwest artists; key holdings in 19th century European and 20th century American art; one of the finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints on the West Coast; the Haub Collection of Western American Art; and the Benaroya Collection.

Hours – *Currently closed in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

About Museum of Glass:

Located in Tacoma, Washington, Museum of Glass is a premier contemporary art museum dedicated to glass and glassmaking in the West Coast’s largest and most active museum glass studio. Opened in 2002, the Museum has established a reputation for hosting impactful and engaging artist residencies, organizing nationally traveling exhibitions, and creating unique programs for visitors while building a growing permanent collection chronicling the development of modern and contemporary glass. Museum of Glass provides an environment for artists and the public to ignite creativity, fuel discovery, and enrich their lives through glass and glassmaking. Museum of Glass is a non-profit organization sponsored in part by the City of Tacoma Arts Commission, ArtsFund, Leonard and Norma Klorfine Foundation, The Dimmer Family Foundation, and D.V. & Ida McEachern Charitable Trust.

Hours – *Currently closed in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

– Washington State Historical Society

When will Tacoma Museum District reopen?

TACOMA, Wash — The museums in the Tacoma Museum District are pleased that cultural institutions around the state have been given the option of reopening in Phase 2 or 3, under specific protocols. The directors of the Tacoma Museum District entities (Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Foss Waterway Seaport, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, and LeMay – America’s Car Museum), who have held weekly remote meetings throughout the pandemic, recently met with Dr. Anthony Chen, Director of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department to hear his agency’s perspective on our local COVID-19 transmission rates and trends.

Tacoma remains a hot spot in Washington, but is headed in the right direction, with new COVID-19 cases declining. As community partners, we recognize our role in helping to reduce transmission of this virus through thoughtful decision-making when it comes to reopening our buildings to the public.

For now, we have chosen to stay “paused” as we continue to monitor local conditions on a daily basis. While the buildings are closed, many staff are working remotely to provide enriching online presentations and activities, as well as providing extensive downloadable learning materials to engage with history, arts and culture from home. We encourage you to check each museum’s website for remote events, apps, curriculum and other online activities.

We are also preparing to reopen. We are eager to welcome our community back into our museums for uplifting connection, learning, and creative experiences. The reopening timeline will be different for each museum based on the layout of our individual buildings, staffing configurations, financial models, and exhibition styles.

– Tacoma Museum District


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