Pacific Northwest College of Art Launches the WPA@PNCA

July 09, 2009

July 9, 2009

Ann Hudner | Vice President, Communications & Public Programs
Pacific Northwest College of Art 503 821 8894 or 774 264 0852

“The contributions of the WPA have gradually emerged from unawareness. They are drawing renewed attention now, not only for the program’s arts and brick-and-mortar legacies but also for its example. The Roosevelt administration placed an extraordinary bet on ordinary people, and the nation realized a remarkable return. The story of the WPA reminds us that the backbone of the United States is the strength, the patience, and the underlying wisdom of its people when they are called upon to face a crisis and are given the means to overcome it.”
American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, Nick Taylor, 2008

Pacific Northwest College of Art Launches the WPA@PNCA
A Creative Approach to Student Leadership and Professional Practice Program Launches In Collaboration with Gerding Edlen Development and Cyan/pdx in Downtown Portland

PORTLAND, OR– – Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) today announces the creation of the WPA@PNCA, a unique program to enhance students’ capacity for employment, and professional practice, while offering exposure to community service, arts activism and volunteerism.

Building upon the original spirit of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), established in the early 1930’s under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, this program does not replace existing jobs, but rather, offers financial relief to students and young alumni in support of core projects within the College, creates collaborations within the Portland community and the development of a WPA-society-based student leadership program. The guiding principles that surfaced in discussions surrounding the development of the WPA@PNCA program included creating a culture of pride, respect, professionalism, commitment and a sense of community manifested in professional practice, arts activism and volunteerism.

The first project of the WPA@PNCA is a collaborative initiative with Gerding Edlen Development and their new Cyan/pdx building, located in the heart of downtown Portland. Multifaceted in its approach, the project consists of a site-specific installation in the lobby of Cyan/pdx, led by PNCA faculty member and Portland-based artist, Emily Ginsburg; alumni exhibitions; public programs and the creation of a cultural residency program between the College and Cyan/pdx.

PNCA students and alumni, chosen to participate in the WPA@PCNA program and to represent the College will play a critical role, serving in various capacities assisting in the development, fabrication and installation of the Ginsburg project, participating in the implementation of the public programs and serving as ambassadors and liaisons between PNCA and Cyan/pdx.

“The opportunity to collaborate with PNCA to launch their WPA@PNCA program was a very appealing project for us,” states Mark Edlen, principal, Gerding Edlen Development. “Not only does it allow us to support an important student-based initiative, it also creates a vibrant ingredient into the Cyan/pdx community by infusing diverse voices and programming that will intersect with arts, culture and contemporary issues.”

During the development phase of the Ginsburg project, the College will mount two alumni exhibitions (September – December) and work in collaboration with Cyan/pdx to host a series of public programs centered on a dual commitment to a progressive living concept that reflects the triple bottom line of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. These conversations, open to the residents of Cyan/pdx, the PNCA community and the greater Portland community will address topics specific to contemporary and cultural issues and include artist talks, presentations, and the development phase of the Ginsburg installation.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students and the PNCA community as a whole,” states Tom Manley, president of PNCA. “As an internationally recognized leader in sustainable development, Gerding Edlen develops creative alternatives to community that advance progressive social and environmental ideals and values. Aligned with PNCA’s values to educate our students for a life of creative practice, this initiative allows for the expansion of PNCA’s creative footprint into the cultural landscape of Portland while giving our students professional exposure.”

Through PNCA’s Department of Communications and Public Programs and the Department of Career Advising, additional WPA@PNCA students will document and promote PNCA-Cyan/pdx projects, utilizing such expertise as photography, video, web development and assisting in the installation of the alumni exhibitions and hosting of public programs.

Concurrently with this project, Gerding Edlen and PNCA also announce the formation of a Cultural Residency program, hosting prominent artists, designers, writers and social activists that will enhance the cultural vibrancy of the Cyan/pdx community and the greater Portland community. Those selected for the residency would be invited by PNCA to visit and spend an extended amount of time in Portland to experience the city, immersed within the PNCA community and have interaction with the residents.

The launch of the WPA@PNCA through the PNCA-Cyan/pdx project is the first phase in the continued development of this program for the College. Over the course of the next year PNCA will further explore the expansion of the WPA@PNCA program to include potential funding opportunities to enhance employment opportunities and the development of the student-leadership program.

The intention is to create a replicable model of art activism and volunteerism within an educational institution that challenges and supports professional practice through community engagement. Recently chosen to host an AmeriCorps VISTA Member through Oregon Campus Contact, Melissa Brazeale will join the College to serve as the WPA@PNCA Program Administrator. This position will work alongside members of the College to manage and advance the concept through research and continued discussions within the PNCA community.

About the WPA@PNCA Program
What began as a discussion within a student sounding board discussion in the fall of 2008, has emerged as the WPA@PNCA, a student-oriented initiative to enhance professional opportunities of an advanced expectation that will integrate and complement current efforts for professional practice, academic curriculum, and career advising. This program is manifested in three forms: internal projects, external public-oriented projects, and a WPA-society-based student leadership program.

Approximately 80% of PNCA students work between 15-30 hours a week outside of any financial aid they may receive from the College to offset the cost of their tuition. Many of these part-time jobs are beginning to disappear as the local unemployment rate rises and often these jobs do not match their expertise or add to their body of knowledge in the creative capacity.

About PNCA
Since its founding in 1909, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) has become a leader in innovative educational programming that connects students to a global perspective in the visual arts. The College offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Communication Design, Illustration, Intermedia, General Fine Arts, Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture. In addition, the College offers a mentor-based MFA in Visual Studies and a new joint MFA in Applied Craft and Design with Oregon College of Art and Craft. PNCA has the oldest continuously running community arts education program in the Northwest. PNCA is actively involved in Portland’s cultural programming through exhibitions and a vibrant public program of lectures and visiting artists from around the world, in conjunction with its Ford Institute for Visual Education (FIVE).