PNCA Graduate Symposium To Focus on Climate Justice

October 07, 2019

Headshots of Macarena Gómez-Barris and CA Conrad

Portland, OR — October 7, 2019 – Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is honored to present the 2019 Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies Symposium: Art + Environmental Justice November 22 and 23, 2019. Environmental justice is the single most pressing and complex issue of our time. The 4 million activists who recently participated in the Global Climate Strike have brought into focus more than ever the intense urgency around climate justice.

Groundbreaking keynote speakers lay the foundation for this interdisciplinary symposium intended to promote dialog on the roles of art, design, and education in environmentalism, activism, and social justice. In the interest of broadening the conversation and growing the audience for these issues, the symposium is free and open to the public.

Keynote speaker Macarena Gómez-Barris works to find alternatives to the impasses produced by racial and extractive capitalism as Professor and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute and Director of the Global South Center. She is the author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives.

Award-winning poet CA Conrad will give a workshop on “(Soma)tic rituals,” what Conrad calls “a practice of unorthodox steps aimed at breaking us out of the quotidian and into a more political and physical spiritual consciousness of The New Wilderness.”

Scholars, activists, educators, designers and artists working on environmental justice issues will explore the politics surrounding systemic biases and the ways that environmental degradation and climate change intersect with race, gender, and class to create disproportionate outcomes on both a local and global scale. The symposium’s agenda places art and design at the center of these conversations, investigating how creative practices contribute to community and global struggles for environmental justice.

It is core to PNCA’s identity that our students are not bystanders in culture, but active participants in the critical dialogues of our times. PNCA’s Core Themes, which guide the school’s curriculum and the implementation of its mission support critical inquiry, giving students the tools to examine existing and emerging cultural, social and political conditions and to make informed judgments. PNCA supports a global understanding of the world, encouraging an understanding of diverse cultures and teaching students to recognize the interconnectedness of both natural and human systems.


Friday, November 22, 2019

(Soma)tic Poetry Workshop with CA Conrad 
3pm, Room 601
(Soma)tic poetry rituals provide a window into the creative viability of everything around us, initiating an extreme present. With (Soma)tics we will learn how even in crisis we can thrive through poetry, as well as learn to collaborate in unexpected ways with other artistic disciplines. Soon we’ll all agree with Alice Notley saying, “poetry’s so common hardly anyone can find it.”

Keynote Lecture: Macarena Gómez-Barris 
6pm, Mediatheque
Macarena Gómez-Barris is a cultural critic, author and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute. She is founder and Director of the Global South Center, a hub for critical inquiry, aesthetic praxis, and experimental forms of social living. Gómez-Barris works on cultural memory, race, queer and decolonial theory, and rethinking the anthropocene. She is author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives, a book that theorizes social life through five extractive scenes of ruinous capitalism upon Indigenous territories (Duke University Press, 2017). She is also author of Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Politics in the Américas (UC Press, 2018), Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (UC Press, 2009), and co-editor with Herman Gray of Towards a Sociology of a Trace (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). Gómez-Barris is author of numerous essays in art catalogues, including work on Laura Aguilar, Julie Mehretu, Cecilia Vicuna, and Carolina Caycedo, as well as essays in numerous peer reviewed journals. She is co-editor with Diana Taylor of Dissenting Acts, a Duke University Press series.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

9am Optional Tour of PNCA

10am Opening Remarks + Land Acknowledgement by Demian DinéYazhi

SESSION ONE: Art and Activism

Chaired by Emily Scott, Assistant Professor of Art History and Environmental Studies, University of Oregon
The topics the panelists will engage cut across artistic practice, critical theory, and political praxis. Panelists will examine how art functions and how artists create art today in the context of environmental crisis, unjust governmental practices, and corporate greed. The artists will be speaking from personal experience with protests, artist residencies, and other forms of artistic and political intervention and practice. The conversation will critique hindrances to our political imagination and explore new pathways forward.

Criteria for an Ecological Social Work
A participatory workshop that leads participants through questions and criteria for their current, or yet-to-exist work. Reflection questions will cover ecological impact, sustainability, equity or reparations lens, social, gender and racial justice, accessibility aspects, social impact assessment, context, community need, site-specificity, proposed futures, possible futures, and alignment with the makers.

Vo is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager at Impact NW. They have worked as a radical educator for eight years in over twenty countries in inclusion, refugee support, trauma-informed care, and racial justice. They are the editor of Fix My Head, an internationally renowned publication for people of color that has been going for six years, and a speaker, artist, and musician who has exhibited and toured in Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Croatia, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the United States.

Lunch Break (lunch is provided)

 SESSION TWO: Queer Ecology

Chaired by Dr. Shawna Lipton, Chair of Critical Studies
This panel will examine queer subject-object relations and the non-human by exploring geology and how queer social movements relate to the earth. Using photography, sculpture, drag, and biennales as subjects of inquiry, the panelists seek to rethink ecology and how we interact with the natural world. The body, landscapes, and art will be discussed in light of their potential to unsettle the natural.

3:00pm-4:00 pm
 SESSION 3: Pedagogy and Community Based Learning
Chaired by Benjamin Craig, Doctoral Candidate, European Graduate School
Three faculty members from Portland State University’s interdisciplinary “University Studies” program examine environmental justice within an educational program that centers social justice and social responsibility. This panel explores educational strategies and environmental justice in three local contexts: local food systems, disability and higher education, and outdoor education projects

 READING: CA Conrad, Allison Cobb, Demian DinéYazhi, introduced by Jay Ponteri, Lead Faculty, Low-Residency MFA Creative Writing and moderated by Daniela Molnar, Program Head of the Art + Ecology progra

CA Conrad is a 2019 Creative Capital Fellow, and the author of nine books of poetry and essays. Their book, While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017), received the Lambda Award. A recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, they also received the Believer Magazine Book Award and the Gil Ott Book Award. Their work has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Polish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Danish, French, and German. They teach regularly at Columbia University and at the Sandberg Art Institute in Amsterdam.

Allison Cobb is the author of After We All Died (Ahsahta Press); Plastic: an autobiography (Essay Press EP series); Born2 (Chax Press); and Green-Wood, originally published by Factory School with a new edition in 2018 from Nightboat Books. Cobb’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, and many other journals. She was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and National Poetry Series; has been a resident artist at Djerassi and Playa; and received fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Cobb works for the Environmental Defense Fund and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-hosts The Switch reading, art, and performance series and performs in the collaboration Suspended Moment

Demian DinéYazhi´ is an Indigenous Diné transdisciplinary artist born to the clans Naasht’ézhí Tábąąhá (Zuni Clan Water’s Edge) and Tódích’íí’nii (Bitter Water). Growing up in the colonized border town of Gallup, New Mexico, the evolution of DinéYazhi´’s work has been influenced by their ancestral ties to traditional Diné culture, ceremony, matrilineal upbringing, the sacredness of land, and the importance of intergenerational knowledge. Through research, mining community archives, and social collaboration, DinéYazhi´ highlights the intersections of Radical Indigenous Queer Feminist identity and political ideology while challenging the white noise of contemporary art. DinéYazhi´ has recently exhibited at Portland Biennial (2019), Counterpublic (2019), Honolulu Biennial (2019), Whitney Museum of American Art (2018), Henry Art Gallery (2018), Pioneer Works (2018), CANADA, NY (2017); and Cooley Art Gallery (2017). DinéYazhi´ is the founder of the Indigenous artist/activist initiative, R.I.S.E.: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment. They are the author and self-publisher of ANCESTRAL MEMORY (2018) and AN INFECTED SUNSET (2018), and their writing has appeared in numerous publications. They are the recipient of the Henry Art Museum’s Brink Award (2017), Hallie Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts (2018), and Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow (2019)

Demonstration of Learning from Cascadia, a set of multimedia maps, bound together on a single web-based platform to create an atlas of the Columbia River Basin and the bioregion known as Cascadia, created by Brian Holmes and Mack McFarland. Focusing on the political ecology connected to this river system, Learning from Cascadia is as much a geography of persons, histories, and collective experiences, as it is a map of locations and sites. The project is highly collaborative, blending the insight and authorship of many different people. It is a work in progress, full of information and insights, but also gaps, errors and hidden prejudices or distortions that the authors cannot see. You're welcome to enjoy it and to help make it better. Anyone is welcome to help make the project better and can offer information to add, comment, or critique by emailing

Also available for demonstration will be Creating Cascadia, a fully interactive atlas where we ask, What is Cascadia? Where is Cascadia? Why is Cascadia? Here you can make your intimate sensations of the region public, and write your ideas directly into a common landscape. Tell everyone who cares why particular places matter to you.

Learning from Cascadia and Creating Cascadia are funded in part by the support of c3:Initiative, the Oregon Cultural Trust, and Mapseed.