A space for possibilities opened up when an anonymous sculptor installed a portrait of an American Pioneer on Mt. Tabor a few weeks ago. York immortalized, his story made huge and inclusive, his face deep in reflection. The expression could be asking, “What have I been through, what have I become?” The unknown artist’s story is also left to our imagination. Opening the possibility that many sculptors (you and I) could do something like this, step onto an open stage and change the story of America.
York’s story is our story, not by claiming it or using it, but by opening up our hearts. Letting them break open to stories that have been ignored for hundreds of years.
The theme for PNWS IS Day 2021 is Unrecognized, that which has been ignored or undervalued. Many of us came to be artists because we recognized things in the world that others did not. The skillful artist reveals some of the picture, letting the viewer fill in the missing pieces. The success of that art is when a viewer recognizes part of their self in the story. This was the challenge for IS Day this year, the event would happen only if people found themselves in the theme. The following is an excerpt from the letter sent to the PNWS Membership announcing the theme and inviting participation:
The PNWS Board will facilitate projects or meetings, but the motivation will be up to you as PNWS Members. Our group’s potential should not go unrecognized. We are diverse and resourceful, and if we come out from our studios to meet, we find a commonality that has the potential to be a community. Your reply to this invitation is vital in that effort. Let us know what you think of these ideas and what you would like to see happen.
PNWS Member, Chayo Wilson, has stepped forward, embracing the potential of IS Day 2021. She is leading the fabrication of a sculpture at the Oregon Society of Artists gallery/school. Chayo is a clay artist and a teacher, who has collaborated with several other PNWS Members. The piece she is presenting on April 24th will also include the efforts of a handful of Members, along with two new Partner/affiliates: OSA (hosting the event and providing a pedestal in their front courtyard) and Helensview High School. The relationship with Helensview is new and evolving, but the projection is that the young artists there will be empowered to find their voice through clay. This gesture echoes the installation of the York portrait on Mt Tabor and fulfills the theme, Unrecognized.
The open pedestal in front of OSA is tangible center point of PNWS IS Day 2021. It is like the pedestal on Mt Tabor where a statue of a wealthy white man was replaced by an unappreciated, black pioneer. There is possibility for our evolution as individuals and as a Member organization, that is being played out in many ways. The Board is attempting to recon with racism and other issues of equity in a Membership organization that thrives on a Peer group ethos at the same time that we are looking outward at partnering with other arts and education organizations.
We have the resources to do this all. PNWS is full of diversely talented individuals that can rapidly solve multi-dimensional challenges, when we work together. Our full potential may be unrealized, but not Unrecognized.