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Aaron Fowler: Into Existence

Dec 13 2019 – Oct 25 2020

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

This gallery is closed until further notice to help ensure safe physical distancing within the museum.

Aaron Fowler’s larger-than-life works are at once paintings, sculptures, and installations. They are made from everyday discarded items and materials sourced from the artist’s local surroundings in Los Angeles and St. Louis, among other places. Items include cotton balls, security gates, afro wigs, hair weaves, broken mirrors, djellabas, sand, broken-down movie sets, found car parts, ropes, lights, and much more. Taking compositional cues from American history painting, religious iconography, and family lore, Fowler inserts both imagined narratives and real stories from his own experiences and those of his friends and family. Each work illustrates a poignant subject, event, or action he wishes to manifest—from portraits of incarcerated loved ones being freed to fantastical scenarios incorporating historical figures alongside friends, role models, contemporary public icons, and often his own likeness.

The works in Into Existence are illustrations of dreams and ideas that Fowler is working to bring into being. The title of the exhibition is a nod to words of encouragement—almost a mantra—that the artist’s grandmother has uttered his entire life: "You need to speak it into existence."

Aaron Fowler is a recipient of the Seattle Art Museum’s Gwendolyn Knight | Jacob Lawrence Prize.

This exhibition is curated by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and SAM’s former Deputy Director for Education and Public Programs/Adjunct Curator in Modern and Contemporary Art.

Funding for the prize and exhibition is provided by the Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence Endowment and generous support from the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation.
Image: Installation view of Aaron Fowler: Into Existence, 2019, installed at Seattle Art Museum, 2019, photo: Natali Wiseman.


The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.