Dr. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse is named Curator of Northwest Native Art

June 23, 2016
Burke Museum

The Burke Museum is pleased to welcome Dr. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse as the new Curator of Northwest Native Art. 

Dr. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Curator of Northwest Native Art

The Burke Museum is pleased to welcome Dr. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse as the new Curator of Northwest Native Art.

Currently the Associate Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art at the Burke Museum, Dr. Bunn-Marcuse manages the Center’s Native artist grant program and publication series with UW Press. She curated the 2014 exhibit Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired, which showcased new Northwest Coast artworks that were inspired by historical pieces in the Burke Museum’s collection. She also teaches Indigenous North American art in Art History and American Indian Studies as a visiting professor at the University of Washington. Dr. Bunn-Marcuse will start her new curator position in September 2016, and will teach courses as an Assistant Professor in the University of Washington’s School of Art + Art History + Design.

Dr. Bunn-Marcuse’s research focuses on nineteenth-century Northwest Coast jewelry and other body adornment, the indigenization of Euro-American imagery, and the art, dance and song of the Kwakwaka’wakw people of British Columbia, Canada. Her research approach considers not only the visual aspects of historical Native art, but also the intangible properties to which they are connected—such as song, dance, language and genealogy. In her research and teaching, as well as curating and museum administration, she works collaboratively with artists and Native community members to build on knowledge and skills that collectively enrich the projects at-hand, while supporting the urgent needs of communities’ access to, and use of, their own heritage.

Dr. Bunn-Marcuse’s recent publications include “Eagles and Elephants: Cross-cultural Influences in the Time of Charles Edenshaw,” in Charles Edenshaw (Vancouver Art Gallery 2013) and “Form First, Function Follows: The Use of Formal Analysis in Northwest Coast Art History” in the award-winning book, Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas (UBC Press 2013). Her forthcoming article “Streams of Tourists: Navigating the Tourist Tides in late 19th Century SE Alaska,” in an upcoming publication from University of Toronto Press focuses on an early moment of Indigenous tourism and the development of the Northwest Coast art market.

Dr. Bunn-Marcuse with Namgis artist Bruce Alfred and the mask that inspired the Seahawks logo.

Dr. Bunn-Marcuse with Namgis artist Bruce Alfred and the mask that inspired the Seahawks logo.

“We are excited to have Dr. Bunn-Marcuse join the curatorial team at the Burke Museum,” Burke Museum Executive Director Dr. Julie K. Stein said. “For the past eight years, Kathryn has been dedicated to connecting Indigenous communities and the public as a whole to Northwest Native Art here at the museum. In her new role as curator, she will be able to expand on this great work for many years to come.”

Bunn-Marcuse will collaborate with First Nations communities and artists to identify research priorities and to activate the Burke Museum’s holdings in ways that are responsive to cultural revitalization efforts. One project currently underway is a new, digital publication of a set of films made in the village of Tsaxis (Fort Rupert) by Franz Boas. The publication will include Boas’ audio and film recordings of crafts, games, and dancing made in Fort Rupert, British Columbia, in 1930. The films are in the archives of the Burke Museum and the new publication is a collaborative research project lead by Bunn-Marcuse with Coreen, Kaleb and Tom Child of Fort Rupert, colleagues who are descendants of the film’s original participants (members of the Hunt, Martin, Wilson and Williams families), with the goal to remedy both scholarly misconceptions about the films and issues of aboriginal and academic accessibility. This collaborative work on the Boas films has reconnected kinship ties to regalia and specific dances featured in the films, as well as reawakened songs that were silent for several generations.

“I’m thrilled to be taking on this new position,” Dr. Bunn-Marcuse said. “Having a joint position between the Burke and the School of Art + Art History + Design provides so many opportunities to bring together scholars, artists, students and communities. The most rewarding part of working at the Burke is witnessing the connections between Indigenous artists and the historical collections. Having a chance to share that deep knowledge with students and with the public is very exciting.”

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