Companion Species (What's Going On)

Marie Watt (American, b. 1967)
Sheet/image : 17 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (44.45 x 46.99 cm)
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Hope College Collection
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The term “companion species”--used in the title of this print--typically refers narrowly to evolutionary relationships in which different species of animals and plants become interconnected and interdependent on each other. This print and its pair belong to a larger series of artworks by Seneca Nation artist Marie Watt in which she poses the question: “What would it look like if, as humans, we thought of ourselves as a companion species?” One half of the diptych is a geometric design inspired by the interlocking patterns found in traditional Native American blankets, which Watt often uses in her art to symbolize the importance of social and environmental relationships in Native American culture. The other half of the diptych consists of phrases taken from Marvin Gaye’s famous 1971 civil rights and anti-war anthem What’s Going On. By combining these references to Native American and African American cultural history, Watt makes a powerful statement about the common interests that exist among all marginalized and oppressed peoples in their struggle for dignity, equality and justice.

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