Press Release

Thick as Mud explores how mud animates relationships between people and place through the work of eight contemporary artists: Dineo Seshee Bopape, Diedrick Brackens, Ali Cherri, Christine Howard Sandoval, Candice Lin, Rose B. Simpson, Eve Tagny, and Sasha Wortzel. Across multiple geographies, these artists engage mud as a material or subject that shapes personal and collective histories, memory, and imagination.



International exhibitions

International Archives 1st half of 2023

Thick as Mud

Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (United States)

04.02 - 07.05.2023




Both water and earth, mud exists in an in-between state. A medium that dissolves binaries, mud invites a blurring of past and present, personal and political, bodies and landscape, feeling and knowing. The artworks in Thick as Mud move across these porous boundaries in various ways, disrupting linear narratives and dominant hierarchies that shape which places and stories matter.

Drawing from her cultural heritage, Rose B. Simpson (born 1983, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico; lives in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico) adapts a centuries-old practice of working with clay to make sculptures that are powerful agents of Indigenous resilience. Similarly, across multiple media, Christine Howard Sandoval (born 1975, Anaheim, California; lives in Vancouver, British Columbia) explores historical uses of adobe, a desert building material with connections to her familial lineage, to reclaim cultural memory and to address legacies of colonial violence inflicted on the Indigenous people of California.

Eve Tagny (born 1986, Montréal; lives in Montréal) explores constructed landscapes as sites of embodied memory. Her installation for Thick as Mud employs performance video and sculpture—including architectural forms made from cob, a mud-based building material—to reflect on conditions of alienation and belonging produced through the visible structures and latent histories of the built environment. Like Tagny, Ali Cherri (born 1976, Beirut; lives in Paris) investigates the political ecologies of disrupted landscapes. In his video Of Men and Gods and Mud (2022), Cherri traces the central role of mud and floods in creation myths, and in the labor and lives of mud-brick workers near the Merowe Dam in northern Sudan.

Mud transmits the memory of enslavement across time and place in the work of Dineo Seshee Bopape (born 1981, Polokwane, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg). Bopape’s Master Harmoniser (ile aye, moya, là, ndokh) is a recent video and sound environment made with soil and water collected from places that played historical roles in the transatlantic slave trade. Similarly, in Swamp Fat (2021), Candice Lin (born 1979, Concord, Massachusetts; lives in Los Angeles) plumbs mud as an archive that traces histories of race and citizenship. Utilizing clay harvested from Saint Malo, the site of an early Asian American community in the Louisiana bayou also previously inhabited by enslaved maroons and Indigenous people, Lin’s work evokes the transgressive possibilities of the swamp as a place of social fluidity.

Sasha Wortzel (born 1983, Fort Myers, Florida; lives in Brooklyn) engages the queer ecology of the swamp through the social and environmental histories of South Florida. Wortzel’s sculpture and audio artwork activates dimensions of desire, loss, and renewal entangled in the swamp, disrupting hierarchies of value associated with mud. So too does Diedrick Brackens (born 1989, Mexia, Texas; lives in Los Angeles) in his textiles, which integrate racial histories of the American South with his own personal mythology, reclaiming the catfish, a mud-dwelling creature, as a vessel of transcendence for the Black queer body.

Across the artworks, mud becomes an agent of time and transformation and a medium of decomposition and creation. As such, Thick as Mud is an invitation to consider the ecological and narrative histories alive in the mud and to consider the possibilities for knowing differently that this material holds.

Thick as Mud is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Curator.

Exhibition 04 February - 07 May 2023. Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington, 15th Ave. NE & NE 41st St. - Seattle, WA 98195 (United States). T +1 206 543 2280. Hours: Thursday 10am–7pm, Friday–Sunday 10am–5pm






work by Christine Howard Sandoval. Installation view, Thick as Mud, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, 2023. Photo: Jonathan Vanderweit.

Thick as Mud, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, United States

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2023. All Rights Reserved