Over the course of 2019-2020, artists at Columbia River Creative Initiatives have been programming a series of exhibitions at two galleries in Portland, Outers Space and Erickson. Through these public exhibitions, the CRCI Artist Residency has built a public audience for the work that is happening inside of the prison. Resident Artists have been able to channel and focus their artistic output into finished work, intended to be seen by a wide audience. Exhibitions have allowed resident artists to widen the scope of considerations to include how their work is installed and contextualized within gallery spaces. Exhibitions have been experimentations in collaboration, exchange, site specificity, publication making, curation, and more.
This first exhibition in the series explored the relationships between artists on the inside and outside in the context of street art. Several prominent street artists created prompts with resident artists at CRCI responded to through writing and visual art. Curated by Jetcet in collaboration with Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr and Berlin Wagar Kim, the show also featured a full scale “grafitti wall”, in the form of panels that were brought into the prison, wheat pasted, and then brought out to install at Outer Space Gallery.
The second exhibition, This is Not Contraband, explored the nuances of power and control set up in the prison environment by looking at the technicalities of what is considered contraband. Resident artists created a conceptually based project where photographs of separate quotidien objects were taken on the inside, which when combined together, created what was technically considered contraband. These object were then combined at Outer Space to create the banned items. Supported by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Memorandum of Understanding
The upcoming exhibition, in collaboration with Erickson Gallery, is a conceptually-rooted, Halloween-inspired project involving the collaborative carving of pumpkins by artists at CRCI and collectors who purchase the pumpkins on the outside. Supported by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Over the course of four weeks, artists at Columbia River Creative Initiatives looked at ways in which masks can be shields, markers of identity, points of perception, and other tools. Each artist has created a unique mask for this exhibition which will be on view throughout March, April, and May. This opening is the culmination of an 8 month series of exhibitions created by artists at Columbia River—incarcerated artists at a minimum security prison—and shown in galleries across Portland. Please join us in celebrating this project! For more information: www.crci.art This project was generously funded by a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.