Companion Species: Blanket Stories, Generations and Acknowledgment consists of three permanent sculptures rendered in different tactile materials. Each depicts, through its own visualization, folded and layered blankets. As the artist says: “they appear as you’d find them in a linen closet.”
Blanket Stories is made of stacked blankets, which have been donated by Loro Piana’s friends, partners, and family. This columnar piece symbolizes the themes of stewardship of a flock, of protection, and of heirlooms – both physical and spoken – that may be passed down through the ages.
Generations is made of reclaimed wood, channeling environmental harmony, ancestry and the endless connections between us and nature. In Seneca culture, the Seventh Generation principle emphasizes that the decisions we make today should work to benefit seven generations into the future. As a continuation of this dialogue, guests will be asked the question: “What do you want to pass on to future generations?”, and their answer, which will be written on a tag, will be affixed to the sculpture.
Acknowledgment is made of bronze, representing long standing Indigenous land, the Goddess Pachamama, and the circularity of stories, be they from the past, present or the future.
In addition, Watt notes that the three sculptures recall, in height and form, the “Three Sisters.” In Seneca and Iroquois teachings, the “Three Sisters” are corn, beans and squash. When grown together, each plant flourishes. They are considered physical and spiritual sustainers of life.
7 Words Stories
Blankets are markers of memories and time. In addition to Marie Watt’s art installation, a blanket personalization service will be available at the Meatpacking District Store from December 14th, 2020 through January 31st, 2021. Taking inspiration from Watt’s large scale patchwork blankets, crafted by community sewing circles, seven varieties of embroidered patches will be available in store to create a blanket that is uniquely yours. Each embroidered patch is hand sewn by Watt and, for her, each word has its own meaningful story.
The Seneca Nation is one of six tribes that make up the Iroquois Confederacy; we call ourselves the Haudenosaunee, which translates to “people of the longhouse”. Haudenosaunee communities use the term Skywalkers, which refers to the many Iroquois ironworkers who built the skyscrapers and bridges of Manhattan and North America.
Does the earth remember? The earth records events throughout time and space, in the fossils and geologic layers and strata. As inhabitants of the earth, humans are part of earth memory. Over generations we mark the earth with our memories and our creations. As humans, we create physical imprints - through our art and objects but directly on the earth as well. The earth has been here for millions of years before us and will remember us long after we’re gone.
Iroquois teachings call upon the community, its leaders, and individuals to intentionally consider how our actions affect not only the next generation but seven generations forward. Seven Generations wisdom acknowledges our interconnectedness to one another, to land, and to animals. It encourages a long view of the future that is infused with accountability to family but also to the earth. What do you want to pass on to future generations? What does generational stewardship look like? Perhaps the act of beginning to answer these questions is also a commitment to taking the steps.
Places are important to humans and animals. We can develop profound connection and kinship to places; they can be cherished and loved. A beloved place can transcend a physical site; it can be an emotional place that feels like home. I like to think about places that transport us in mind and spirit – I call these “transportation objects.” The beloved place that is Manhattan is the traditional homeland of the Lenape Nation. Where is one of your beloved places?
We make circles with our bodies to see and hear and share with each other. My mom says that circles can expand and contract to include everyone; therefore, everyone’s voice is equal in a circle. The Klamath elder Gordon Bettles says, “My story changes when I know your story.” I like to think about story circles as living forms that change as we speak and listen together.
The world is full of wild, natural beauty. I am drawn in by the drama of things that are untamed or uncultivated – a profusion of flowers, a river that floods its banks, uncombed hair, a tangle of thread. In this rawness, there is complexity and surprise. With a mix of desolation and disorder, tenacity and movement, wild beauty is a powerful force.
Horizons are the edge of what we can see, the brink of what we know. Horizons live in the future and indicate possibility. As we move forward through space, the horizon changes and moves ever outward. In this way, they represent an ever-dawning day, a fresh start, and a journey.