PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture Presents no. Not Ever and Organize Your Own

October 08, 2019

Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements

Portland, OR—October 8, 2019—The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is pleased to present two timely exhibitions: no. NOT EVER., a multi-media installation that provides an anti-racist framework for countering the rise of white nationalism today and Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements (OYO), an exhibition addressing the history of white working-class people organizing against racism. Both exhibitions open on November 7 and run through December 17, 2019.

The timing of these exhibitions coincides with a surge in white nationalist violence and anti-Semitic rhetoric fueling debates across the country on the importance of advocating for tolerance and social justice. For a college of art and design, these exhibitions are important conversations, infusing a national perspective on activism, and social and racial justice into the classrooms and campus.

“Social and environmental justice has been a curatorial focus for the past decade. It is part of our core culture at PNCA,” states Mack McFarland, Director for the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA. Long recognized as provocateurs or agents of change, many artists and designers engage in creative activism. These individuals have created artworks and designs to voice their own political and social beliefs, and have aided groups in getting their messages seen.

Art, design and creative energy is often fueled by a desire for justice. Within a creative education one learns social justice history while also engaging in contemporary issues to have an impactful outcome. “A key element to PNCA hosting these exhibitions,” states McFarland, “is connecting history to the present day for our community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni – to Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

Organized by If You Don’t They Will, a Seattle-based collaboration that provides concrete and creative strategies to counter white nationalism through a cultural lens, no. NOT EVER. is a video-centered “living archive” which depicts a wide-range of rural and suburban organizing strategies from the 1980’s and 1990’s that say “no. NOT EVER.” to white nationalism in the Pacific Northwest.

This exhibition, which will be hosted in PNCA’s Albert Solheim Library, combines video footage from archival interviews, interactive research stations and a community resource guide. This dynamic “living archive” functions as a participatory teaching tool and as an intergenerational bridge to support ongoing efforts to say "no. NOT EVER." to white nationalism in a wide range of communities and contexts. In response to the Northwest Territorial Imperative, a late 1970’s call to (re)create a white homeland in the Pacific Northwest, a network of 120 rural and suburban grassroots groups organized to counter white nationalist attacks on their communities. Some of these groups consisted of a few people, some were formalized non-profits with a board of directors, some were only around for five years, and some still exist today. The activists interviewed developed invaluable creative and resourceful ways to differently counter a variety of white nationalist assaults in and on their communities. Their strategies break down isolation, provide networks for resource and research sharing, and challenge urban assumptions and stereotypes about rural and suburban organizing.

Opening concurrently at PNCA, Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements is a touring exhibition and event series that features new work by contemporary artists and poets that responds to archival materials related to the history of white people organizing their own working-class white neighborhoods in Philadelphia (the October 4th Organization) and Chicago (the Young Patriots Organization) in keeping with the mandate from the Black Power movement to “organize your own” community against racism.

Organized by Daniel Tucker, Organize Your Own was launched in Chicago and in Philadelphia at Kelly Writers House in early 2016 and will continue to tour between now and the end of 2019. The exhibit features newly commissioned artwork by participants from around the country, including Amber Art & Design, Anna Martine Whitehead (with Thread Makes Blanket), Irina Contreras, Robby Herbst, Matt Neff, Mary Patten, Dave Pabellon, Helen Shiller's Keep Strong Magazine photo archives, Society Editions collaboration with the poets of the Young Patriots Organization, Dan S. Wang, and Rosten Woo. The reading area of the exhibition includes the project catalog edited by Anthony Romero for Soberscove Books with reflections on this project from Fred Moten, Mark Nowak, Rasheedah Phillips, Bettina Escauriza, Mariam Williams, and Jen Hofer. Also see online project documentation featured on by Irina Contreras, Anne Braden Institute, Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, Salem Collo-Julin, and Thomas Graves with Jennifer Kidwell.

Exhibition Affiliated Events Announced to Date:

American Revolution 2, with an introduction from Walidah Imarisha and Hy Thurman
October 22 – 6:00 – 7:45 PM, PNCA’s Shipley Collins Mediatheque

This screening of American Revolution 2 (1969) Co-Directed by Mike Gray and Howard Alk is a lead up event to the exhibition Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements. The film charts Gray and Alk's journey to a deeper understanding of race relations and the political reality outside of the 1968 student demonstrations at the chaotic Democratic Convention in Chicago. The work will be introduced by Walidah Imarisha, a writer, activist, educator and Hy Thurman, an original member of the Young Patriots Organization, a group featured in the film and exhibition.

Daniel Tucker
November 21, 6:30 – 7:30 PM, PNCA’s Shipley Collins Mediatheque

Daniel Tucker works as an artist, writer and organizer developing documentaries, publications, exhibitions and events inspired by his interest in social movements and the people and places from which they emerge. His writings and lectures on the intersections of art and politics and his collaborative art projects have been published and presented widely.

Rosten Woo
December 9, 6:30 – 8:00 PM PNCA’s Shipley Collins Mediatheque

Rosten Woo is a designer, writer, and educator living in Los Angeles. He produces civic-scale artworks and works as a collaborator and consultant to a variety of grassroots and non-profit organizations. including the Advancement Project, the American Human Development Project, the Black Workers Center, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, as well as the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.

About Pacific Northwest College of Art
Pacific Northwest College of Art empowers artists and designers to reimagine what art and design can do in the world. Founded in 1909 as the Museum Art School in Portland, Oregon, PNCA offers 12 art and design Bachelor of Fine Art programs, 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.