The Aperture Opens
An introduction by President Tom Manley and Director and Chief Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers to We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live
On the occasion of We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live at Museum of Contemporary Craft, and on the publication of We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, the exhibition catalog, PNCA President Tom Manley and MoCC Director and Chief Curator Namita Gupta Wiggers contributed the following introduction:
The aperture opens. The brush touches the canvas. The flame of the torch lights up the metal. This is the transformative moment when material becomes a work of art.
A similarly catalytic event in an artist’s life is an award that brings unexpected resources for space, materials, and time for deep exploration. For the nine accomplished Oregon artists who have been selected for the Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts, this $25,000 unrestricted award translates into a welcome opportunity for such creative exploration.
It is fitting that Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art is hosting the inaugural exhibition of the Hallie Ford Fellows, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, as five years ago PNCA itself received a gift that was also transformative. In 2007 the late Hallie Ford, a lifelong supporter of the arts and co-founder of The Ford Family Foundation, personally gave the College a $15 million gift to create PNCA’s Ford Institute for Visual Education. This generous gift, the largest to any arts institution in Oregon history, fueled many new initiatives for the College, including funding the development of our thriving graduate programs: the MFA in Visual Studies, the MFA in Applied Craft + Design with Oregon College of Art and Craft, the MFA in Collaborative Design, the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies, and the MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research.
The relationship between The Ford Family Foundation, PNCA, and the greater community continues as the Foundation has recently given PNCA a gift to acquire Memory 99, a monumental sculpture by PNCA alumnus Lee Kelly ’59. In order to preserve public access, the sculpture has just been sited outside the front doors of the College’s future home, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, on what will be Portland’s New North Park Block. Here it serves as a reminder to both residents and visitors of the power of creativity and the value in lives of creative practice.
Likewise, this exhibition builds on the Museum’s work to reveal and exhibit lives of creative practice, the impact of which extends well beyond the studio and the exhibition space. It is especially gratifying that the College and Museum host this exhibition as nearly half of the Ford Fellows have ties to PNCA. Michelle Ross ’87 is an alumna, David Eckard is Chair of the Sculpture Department, and Daniel Duford and Ellen Lesperance are PNCA faculty members.
Thus, this exhibition represents the intersection where the transformative power of an individual artist’s creative vision meets that of an extraordinary and visionary supporter of the arts. The presentation of this exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Craft continues its long-standing tradition over its 76-year history of presenting exemplary work by contemporary artists, craftspeople, and designers in thoughtful, provocative, and educational ways. The College and Museum of Contemporary Craft are proud to host the inaugural exhibition of the work of The Ford Family Foundation’s Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts.
— Tom Manley
President, Pacific Northwest College of Art
CEO, Museum of Contemporary Craft
— Namita Gupta Wiggers
Director and Chief Curator
Museum of Contemporary Craft