It’s hard to get much of a feel for what kind of place our Art Building is from the name alone. At a first reading, “Art Building” seems little more than a utilitarian label, which is, perhaps, fair—a visitor might better recall it as a sandbar in a river of construction, whose orange-hued façade represents the ubiquity of the construction barricades that surround it better than the creative practices inside. Beneath those panels, beyond the traffic cones, and within the halls that have been shaken by jackhammers and bent to the needs of the three art schools that it’s served, though, there exists far more than simply an arbitrary building that happens to serve our community of makers.
Rather, the Art Building might itself be better considered as a work of art, building over time with every dent in a wall or stain on a carpet—an utterly flexible space of collaborative creativity that’s being constantly redesigned, over and over, to suit the needs and whims of its inhabitants in intentional and unintentional ways. Every action enacted upon it is an iteration of our vision for what this place can and should be, and the work those panels represent grows with every artist that builds something new from it. Few, though, have understood how the building’s marks tell its story.
Through a series of micro-exhibitions, short performances, workshops, interventions, and exchanges of both space and purpose, I’ll react to the issues we face in remaking this building as a home, combining that which can be retrieved from its past with the indexes of change that can be scavenged from its present.
Art, building, part of my time as the first-ever Resident+Artist program for the School of Art + Design at Portland State University, will run weekdays from January 6–23 at the Lobby Gallery of the Art Building at PSU.
I hope you can find a way to stop by.