Oregon Community Foundation Awards PNCA $100K Creative Heights Grant to Commission Installations by Indigenous Artists

September 03, 2019

Portland, OR—September 3, 2019—Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a Creative Heights grant from the Oregon Community Foundation in the amount of $100,000 to support commissioning eight Indigenous artists to create installations to cover “Chieftain” heads carved into the travertine above the eight doorways in the corridor of PNCA’s main campus building, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design. PNCA's main campus building is a former federal post office designed by American architect, Lewis P. Hobart, which opened in 1919.

Sara Siestreem (Hanis-Coos) is the lead artist on the project. Siestreem has 20 years’ experience in creating and administering public art projects and institutional reform around decolonization. The project is organized by Mack McFarland, Director of Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA working with Siestreem. In addition to Siestreem, the other confirmed artists to date include: Greg Archuleta (Clackamas/Chinook/Santiam Kalapuya/Shasta); Lillian Pitt (Wasco/Warm Springs/Yakama); Greg Robinson (Chinook); and Shirod Younker (Coquille/Coos).

“We are incredibly honored to receive this grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. This affirmation of PNCA as a leader in the community and the recognition of our shared values of equity, inclusion, and justice in the community is significant,” says Chris Maples, Interim President of PNCA. “It is our desire that this investment in works by Indigenous artists will generate informed conversation and further actions as we all move toward a more just and equitable future.”

As noted in the proposal for this grant, “This use of the Native American character and icon, as sports mascot and in these architectural details, reinforces what Siestreem calls ‘the acceptability and elevation of colonial entitlement to Indigenous property.’” The need for the project was clear.

“This project is a physical manifestation of the endeavor that PNCA’s Equality and Social Justice Action Committee has undertaken: to recognize and address our blind spots in the fight for equity,” says McFarland. “These artworks will be a way to embed PNCA’s commitment to an Indigenized future into the physical and psychic structure of the institution, and acknowledge an Indigenous presence and the many peoples and histories that lived on this land before the process of settler colonialism,” says Mack McFarland, Director of the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA.

PNCA’s recent inclusive and collaborative strategic planning process reconfirmed and elevated the institution’s commitment to working toward equity, inclusion, and justice. In addition to the formation of an Equity Council and broadly attended Equality and Social Justice Action Committee, PNCA in 2018, named V Maldonado as Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. In addition, PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture last year launched the Cultural Organizer in Residence (COR) to support artists and scholars working in social and activist arenas toward a just world. The first three residents included Dr. Lisa Bates, Sarah Farahat (2008 BFA alumna), and Roger Peet.

OCF’s Creative Heights initiative provides opportunities for artists and cultural organizations to stretch their creative capacity, share new works and test new ideas. The initiative aims to increase Oregon’s cultural visibility and vitality while supporting unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture. Grants are for the creation and/or presentation of new and innovative performances, exhibitions, programs, and other works of art and culture. OCF selects up to 12 projects annually with grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 per project. PNCA received the highest level of funding available through this very competitive grants program.

About Pacific Northwest College of Art

Founded in 1909 as the Museum Art School, PNCA has helped shape the region’s visual art and design landscape for more than a century. Today, PNCA offers 11 Bachelor of Fine Art programs in art and design, eight graduate programs including Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs within the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies, a Post-Baccalaureate program, and Community Education courses for artists and designers of all ages. For more information, visit pnca.edu.

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