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Exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum Merges Modern-day Patterns with Tradition
Joe Feddersen, Stealth, 2006. Blown glass, sandblasted, 10 x 15 ½ x 15 ½ inches. Collection of Arlene and Harold Schnitzer, Portland, Oregon.
TACOMA, WA.- Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs, a major retrospective exhibition of work by this highly regarded artist and teacher, is on view at Tacoma Art Museum September 26, 2009, through January 10, 2010. Vital Signs features an extraordinary selection of Joe Feddersen’s printmaking, collage, glass, and weaving created since 1996. Through powerful combinations of contemporary forms and Native American iconography, the works in the exhibition demonstrate the artist’s fascination with the interrelationships between urban place makers—such as parking lots, tire tracks, high voltage towers, cinder blocks, and chain link fencing—and the landscape Feddersen finds in the Northwest.

Following in the footsteps of his Plateau Indian ancestors, who interpreted their environment in the patterns of their baskets, Feddersen transforms the rhythms of the urban centers and natural landscapes surrounding him into art forms that are both coolly modern and warmly impressionistic.

Feddersen’s mastery of many contemporary forms provides him with the opportunity to update and renew traditional Plateau motifs without negating their history and significance. “My work is about the investigation of signs and about the language of patterns,” says Feddersen. “It’s about sign and place. And I would hope that people from the Plateau area recognize the traditional patterns that are keeping the language alive, while also seeing the humor in the new ones, as to how our land is changing.”

Born in 1953 in Omak, Washington, just off the Colville Indian Reservation, Joe Feddersen studied at the University of Washington in Seattle with renowned printmaker Glen Alps. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989 and went directly to The Evergreen State College, where he served on the faculty until his retirement this year in 2009. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally since 1982 and is in several major public and private collections throughout the United States.

The exhibition includes a full-color 128-page catalogue. Co-published by the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the University of Washington Press, and The Evergreen State College, the book will be a major new volume in the Jacob Lawrence Series on American Artists. In addition to an essay by exhibition curator and Willamette University professor Rebecca Dobkins, the book includes an introduction by artist Barbara Earl Thomas, a critical essay by artist/writer Gail Tremblay, over 130 color and black-and-white illustrations, a biography on the artist, and a bibliography for further reading.


Tacoma Art Museum | Joe Feddersen | Contemporary Forms | Native American Iconography |


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