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Artists share “What Needs to be Said”

Billy Ullmann

Lifestyles editor

MK Guth’s “What needs to be said” encourages audience interaction. Photo: Billy Ullmann

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art opened its newest exhibition, “What Needs to Be Said,” on Saturday, Sept. 14. This exhibit, located in the Melvin Henderson Rubio gallery, features the work of thirteen Oregon-based artists who received the Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts between 2014 and 2016. The artworks exist across a variety of mediums, including photography, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, installation, noise and audience interaction. 

The exhibition itself was named after the work of MK Guth, a fellowship recipient and associate professor of art at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). Her titular work explores the idea of expression by inviting viewers to help create the piece through writing what they believe needs to be said in large blank books placed in the gallery.

Following the first day of viewing, there was a panel discussion led by art curator Diana Nawi. The panel featured a few of the art fellows: Karl Burkheimer, Tom Porchaska, Blair Saxon-Hill and Samantha Wall. 

Nawi began the discussion by explaining that even though the artists have different practices, “there was one common thread: time.” She asked the panelists how they believe their work was a practice of time.

Wall, a drawing instructor at PNCA, created a series of drawings, one everyday, over the month of December 2017 that feature a fist colored in India ink. She explained:

“This was a necessity of reality. After a tragedy in my family, I had to work on something small. I found steadying in repetition. […] I made these to slow down from a frantic pace.” Her work shown in Hallie Ford is a part of a diptych, or work consisting of two matching parts. The half not featured was created in January 2018.

Burkheimer, once a professor and chair of the Master of Fine Arts in Craft at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, showcased his sculpture Hull. He responded to Nawi’s question by saying: “There’s a continuance and a returning. It’s like a wheel: it comes back to it started but continues going forward. [Art] can be unplanned but familiar. After the destruction of something, there is something else left over.”

Porchaska, a retired professor of printmaking at PNCA, has a series of drawings on display with subject matter ranging from landscapes to depictions of sexual interactions. He described his relationship to time by saying, “[My art] is continuous. I draw and make small sculptures. There’s a random tossing of things. [A lot of it] is cumulative and comes with time.”

Saxon-Hill, who owns an art book store called Monograph Bookwerks, works with a variety of mediums but has a common practice of using documents and materials from the past. She explained her relationship with time by saying: “I look at impossible documents and outdated forms of technology to look at our sense of knowing and truth. I examine artifacts and materiality through things like evidence of wear and oscillations of time. A lot of my works have a relationship with something external or a historical moment.”

The panel discussion concluded with Nawi asking the artists how they got to where they were as artists and what they felt needed to be said. Wall responded by saying inspiring others to find a voice is hard.

Burkheimer said, “I just did stuff. It took a long time for me to realize I was doing art. Naming is not as interesting as the doing… There is a continual problem seeking.” 

Porchaska answered, “It’s in not always knowing and looking for surprises. I also share and ask my friends, which feeds me.”

Saxon-Hill described her experience: “[My art] is a way to find answers and think through ideas. I break it down into something digestible; my work produces revelation. There is constant change.”

The exhibit is viewable until Dec. 20. Tannaz Farsi and Geraldine Ondrizek, fellowship recipients, will be giving artist lectures in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall in the Hallie Ford Museum at 7:30 pm on Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, respectively. There are also gallery talks given by museum docents every Tuesday at 12:30 pm starting on Oct. 1 and running until Dec. 17.

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