Marita Dingus

As a “junk artist,” Seattle native, and African-American woman, Marita Dingus’ identity is as richly textured as the sculptures and wall-hangings she fashions from fabric, plastic tubes, light bulb bases, and other recycled curiosities. Her vibrant show at Seders Gallery incorporates her various talents—sewing she learned as a child, glass work from a recent residency at the Museum of Glass—and her deep interest in the relics of the African Diaspora. Dingus takes the hateful golliwog image of the past and makes it her own. Her black characters are not mockeries nor pathetic. But many are wounded, with stitching across their troubled faces, zippers for a mouths, and bodies made from hardware scraps and throwaway bits and pieces. Her wall of headless and twisted small figures, “400 Men of African Descent,” in the Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection, clearly evokes an eerie cargo hold, or tree full of “strange fruit.” Yet Dingus is not out just to proselytize—her work is too artistically interesting for that, and just plain innovative. Twenty fabric babies leap and dance on one wall, a photograph of a child’s face patched onto each. One has dried paintbrushes for hair, another, glittery yarn cornrows. Though covered in discarded items—buttons, picture hooks—these children of color have character and individuality. “Leaf Fence” is perhaps the “prettiest” piece in this show—a rectangular network of silver wire and heavily stitched bright green fabric leaves (although, fences, in Dingus’ lexicon, represent captivity). This is not mournful work, but not exactly joyful, either. Dingus’ very resourcefulness is itself a commentary on how the poor and powerless have always had to make do with little to get along, whether it’s patching up hand-me-downs, or reinventing oneself after society has shackled you with chains or stereotypes. She is clearly exploring physical textures, but also far deeper emotional and historical contexts,

which makes her work fascinating and, at times, powerfully troubling. Francine Seders, 6701 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-782-0355, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat.; 1–5 p.m. Sun. Ends Jan. 15.

More in Arts & Culture

City Arts Ceases Publication

The free local culture magazine shuts down operations after 12 years.

Greta Klein (center right) brings the soft indie pop Frankie Cosmos to The Neptune. Photo by Angel Ceballos
The Soft Comfort of Frankie Cosmos

Sub Pop’s tenderest band brings its indie pop to The Neptune.

French dance company Compagnie Käfig brings the lights of ‘Pixel’ to Meany Center. Photo by Laurent Philippe
Pick List: Compagnie Käfig, Brooklyn Rider, Pete Souza

The week’s best entertainment offerings.

At times, the actors in Outlaw King are hard to tell apart under the mud, furs, 
and filthy mullets. Courtesy Netflix
Coming for the Throne

‘Outlaw King,’ the Chris Pine-led 14th century epic about the First War of Scottish Independence, signals Netflix’s attempt to conquer the Oscars.

Jonah Ray (yellow) joins Crow, Servo, and original host Joel Hodgson on the ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ live tour. Photo courtesy MST3K
The Timeless Formula of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ Goes Live

New host Jonah Ray discusses tour, honorable riffs, and nerd fan acceptance

Pedro the Lion. Photo by Ryan Russell
Pedro the Lion Returns with “Yellow Bike”

After nearly 15 years without new music, the Seattle band releases a song and video from the upcoming album, ‘Phoenix.’

Mr. Daisey’s desk at Seattle Rep. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld
‘A People’s History’ Takes Aim at American Triumphalism

Mike Daisey’s 18-part monologue at Seattle Rep serves as an engaging, fiery, and confrontational history class.

Big-screen Queen via Bohemian Rhapsody. Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox
Not Quite A Killer Queen

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ hits some musical high notes, but the Queen biopic largely plays it too safe.

A wedding procession welcomes you to <em>Peacock in the Desert</em>. Photo by Natali Wiseman/Seattle Art Museum
The Royal Opulence of ‘Peacock in the Desert’

Seattle Art Museum’s showcase of Indian art might lack cultural depth, but it’s certainly a spectacle.

Martial Arts at the Armory

Seattle Shakespeare’s affectionately traditionalist staging of Shaw’s unsentimental wartime satire, ‘Arms and the Man.’

Mitski auditioning for a role in a new <em>Poltergeist </em>film. Photo by Bao Ngo
Seattle Halloween Concert Guide

With a handful of stellar options, how should one celebrate Rocktober?