Artists Carrie Mae Weems and Marie Watt among new slate of Museum trustees

The Portland Art Museum welcomed prominent artists Carrie Mae Weems and Marie Watt to its Board of Trustees in its virtual annual meeting earlier this month. 

“I am so honored and excited that Carrie Mae Weems and Marie Watt accepted our invitation to help lead our institution at this crucial time,” said Brian Ferriso, Director and Chief Curator of the Portland Art Museum. “Our communities need the arts more than ever, and it is vital to have the wisdom of these consequential artists who have both contributed so much and in so many ways to our lives.”  

Watt and Weems are among nine new or returning trustees joining the Museum’s 70-member Board of Trustees. The role of the Board of Trustees is to lead in the governance of the institution, including budget approval and oversight of the Museum’s finances and assets, hiring and evaluating the performance of the Executive Director, and serving on subcommittees overseeing the areas such as the Museum’s collections, development, equity and inclusion, finances and investments, learning and community partnerships.

“I am so thrilled about the incoming group of trustees,” said Board Chair Fred Jubitz. “My family has been closely involved with the Museum for nearly three decades, and seeing the enthusiasm and range of artists, community leaders, and professionals from many different sectors is a testament to the work that Museum and Northwest Film Center are doing in this city.” 

The Portland Art Museum’s new trustees include: 

Photo of Marie Watt by Sam Gehrke, courtesy of the artist.

Marie Watt, who lives and bases her artistic practice in Portland, has artwork in museum collections across the country, from the Portland Art Museum to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. Her work was featured in the 2019 exhibition Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

“As an Indigenous woman, I feel like art, life and story are intimately linked, and the Portland Art Museum offers a space—inside the four walls, but also outside in our community—to amplify that message,” said Watt in her video message during the Museum’s virtual annual members meeting on October 7. 

Photo of Carrie Mae Weems by Audoin Desforges, courtesy of the artist.

Carrie Mae Weems has sustained an influential artistic dialogue for more than 30 years, employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. Her work is in the collections of museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as the Tate Modern in London. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the MacArthur “Genius” grant, the prestigious Prix de Roma, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Weems has been an inspiration to contemporary artists such as Mickalene Thomas, who frequently credits Weems’ 1994 retrospective at the Portland Art Museum as a transformative moment that set her on the path to becoming an artist herself. In a New York Times review of Weems’ 2012-2014 traveling retrospective, Holland Cotter wrote, “Ms. Weems is what she has always been, a superb image maker and a moral force, focused and irrepressible.”

“Art, music, dance, literature are crucial to our lives and to our very survival,” said Weems in her video message during the Museum’s virtual members meeting. “It’s the soul of a nation. It’s the way that we come to know the world around us and ourselves. It’s our way of understanding this extraordinary thing we call Life.” 

“I’m in love with art,” Weems continued. “I don’t know what I would do without it; it’s changed every facet of my life and my time here on this planet. It’s shaped how I see and how I feel. I don’t know really what the world would do without art. I can’t imagine a world without it. And so we need to support art, artists and the cultural institutions that bring it to us. We need to support art like our very lives depend on it, because frankly, it does.” 

The Portland Art Museum’s full Board of Trustees roster can be found online. This year’s full virtual members meeting, including the introduction to the Museum’s new Trustees, is posted on the Museum’s YouTube channel.

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