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Painting Deconstructed: Selections from the Northwest Collection

June 11, 2021 - August 11, 2021

The stages of the moon are painted on strips of blue and grey and black, each in sequence, in a massive grid.

Painting is one of the most popular and familiar art forms. Though this artistic genre first appeared over 40,000 years ago, artists continue to find new ways to combine its basic elements into uniquely personal expressions.

Looking more intently at the different parts of a painting can reveal how artists shape our experiences of their work through aesthetic choices.

The exhibition is divided into four sections that focus on key aspects of painting: medium and support, composition, color, and technique. The examples in each section offer both well-known and unusual variations. Together they provide one approach among many to interpreting works of art.

The Northwest is home to a diverse and multi-talented group of painters, a number of whom are spotlighted here. All of the artworks on view are by Black and Indigenous artists, artists of color, and women artists. They were selected from Tacoma Art Museum’s collection of more than 700 Northwest paintings. Additional information on the artists in the exhibition, including links to their websites, interviews, and more, is available on our resources page. You can also find short artist biographies and more information on each work as well as the rest of the museum’s painting collection in our online database.

Artworks can affect us in many ways from their overall impact to the lure of a particular detail. Studying the technical features of a painting both underlines the artistry that goes into the finished work and highlights the endless inventive power of creative imagination.


Tacoma Art Museum
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Wheelchair accessible
BIPOC artist(s), Women artist(s)
Event Type
Museum, Visual Art
Pandemic Info


Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402 United States
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