1. July 30, 2014

    INTERVIEW WITH EMILIE SKYTTA ON THE C.L.U.I. ARTIST RESIDENCY IN WENDOVER, UTAH.
    Photo by Emilie Skytta
    Photo by Emilie Skytta

    INTERVIEW WITH EMILIE SKYTTA ON THE C.L.U.I. ARTIST RESIDENCY

    Emilie Skytta, alumna, gives an in-depth interview on exploring the ostensibly hidden history of Wendover, rediscovering her materials driven and place-based creative practice, and developing strong bonds with fellow-artists while an art resident at the Center for Land Use Interpretation (C.L.U.I.) in Utah.

    How did you find C.L.U.I. and why did you decide to do this residency?
    I had never heard about C.L.U.I. Sometime last semester I learned Matt Coolidge was coming to Portland to give a talk about this residency program based in Utah called, the Center for Land Use Interpretation. I wasn’t completely sure what it was, but it sounded awesome. So, I went to the talk, and was completely smitten with the idea of going. Mack MacFarland had been trying to start a partnership with them, and this residency was 6 or 7 years in the making.  With the dawn of the PNCA move to the 511 building, Mac worked it out so PNCA would fund 5 graduate students and 2 faculty members to be artist residents, and the work made there would be exhibited in the Feldman Gallery prior to a C.L.U.I. retrospective to be shown the following year. I already had unofficial plans to be in Utah this summer, and this residency made those plans more official. I applied – the application process asked why do you want to come here and what do you think you may want to do while you’re here? In my head, I was bound to go to Utah.

    What type of work did you create during the residency and what influenced it?
    Before I went down there I had preconceived ideas of C.L.U.I., knowing full well that probably what I thought it was going to be wasn’t actually what I would encounter. When I got there, it was a constant barrage of information, sites and experiences over the first week. It all started with an overnight campout at the Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt for solstice. Holt had past away earlier this year, so it was a bit of a memorial. There was probably an upwards of 200 people there that were all camping. It was an awesome first night; our welcome to the desert!

    We spent the next couple of days with Matt Coolidge, who is an absolute wealth of information and quite the entertaining person. He took us all over the place. We went out into the salt flats, and we drove down to what I guess were roads, but not really roads. We were in the rental car going – “I don’t know if it’s gonna make it!” We went to bomb craters, and places I don’t think are on maps. You wouldn’ t know otherwise if there wasn’t someone taking you there.

    We traveled a 40-mile radius from C.L.U.I. in any given direction and learned some of the history of the area from Coolidge. We talked for a good long time before Coolidge left for California, and I was telling him about how my work tends to be very based on materials and place.  I get really inspired about whatever I’m touching. And I asked him about the history, and he handed me a book called Canaries on the Rim by Chip Ward. Ward had been living in Utah since this mid-70’s (Emilie begins to draw a map and points out the Great Salt Lake, the border of Utah and Nevada, and Wendover.). Basically from here this way (Emilie points to the southwest portion of Utah), they’re considered downwinders. The book talks about the downwinders and all the towns through here and Tooele County. There is industry, salt factories, chemical incinerators, and a magnesium plant. Essentially what happened from the 50’s onward were a lot of unregulated activities. The military was testing bombs, chemical and germ warfare. The book talks about this history that isn’t acknowledged and how industry and military interaction affected the lives Wendover residents. These towns are filled with patriotic people – the workingman – but eventually their health declined along with their families’.  Much of their livelihood was taken away from them due the testing that had happened. Eventually it was an awakening to these people that they needed to do something about it, even though it might be too late for some. These small towns came together and attempted to change what was happening in their very small communities, and the military was trying to deny what had happened. I got really inspired by this concealed history. No one wants to remember, acknowledge, or take ownership of this history in its entirety.

    I also ended up reading a history book about Wendover to get an idea of the land. I learned Wendover started as a railroad thoroughfare in 1907. It’s one of the only towns in Utah that was not established by Mormons.  So there’s not really a religious presence there, which is bizarre in and of itself. The potash industry came there – the salt pots. Then WWII happened and they basically turned it into a military base. There are abandoned barracks there, and the Enola Gay hangar, you know the one that dropped the bomb? Well, that’s in the backyard of C.L.U.I. We looked at it every single day.

    There’s a huge military history. Once the military arrived in Wendover, the population went from 500 to 20,000 overnight. When the military left, it went back to 500 people, and today it’s about 1200 people (on the Utah side). There’s evidence of the history through historical markers, but then there’s no site to be seen. It’s just remnants. There are historical markers with nothing to mark. It’s fascinating to think that people are acknowledging the history, but they also really don’t want to remember it.

    Today, Wendover is split between Utah and Nevada. On the Nevada side there’s about 5 casinos, more money, things are in better shape, where all the businesses are, and more people live there. On the Utah side it’s dilapidated and has hardly any people.

    I started collecting fabric from all different places around C.L.U.I. There were a couple of sites where there were house fires, and I was pulling out burned sheets and curtains as well as getting fabric from dump piles in the middle of the desert. These were seemingly random places in the middle of the desert where people would just go, I think through a lot of effort. They would take their old couch in the middle of nowhere, shove it off their truck bed and use it for target practice. I got fabric from all these places thinking there’s evidence that people exist here; I just don’t know where they are.

    I ended up quilting that all that together. And I’m in the process of collaborating with someone else to make the rest of the project. The whole project is going to sort of reflect on the physical region’s narratives from my outsider perspective. I’m taking a massive amount of information I learned and am trying to piece together to make a narrative about it. It may or may not be totally be accurate, but that’s not the point, it’s more about what I’m discovering about that place.

    How has this residency changed your way of thinking…or has it?
    I don’t know if it’s really changed my way of thinking, but it has changed my way of being. I came back from this realizing it was good for my soul. I needed removal from my daily routine and the place I’m in all the time. Being in an environment that’s so drastically different slowed down my sense of time and tapped into my desires to go out and homestead. It showed me that I need to figure out a way, on an annual basis, to take a sabbatical for 1 – 3 months from daily life. This experience didn’t really change my way of thinking, but it definitely gave me a good idea of how I want the rest of my life to go.

    How do you think this residency may influence your future work?
    I was thinking about that actually. Particularly because my design practice and art practice are completely separate. I see one as nourishing my own personal needs and the other side is my own work ethic. It had been a solid 8 years since I had made anything where I really sat down and thought about creating something that had substance to it, rather than me working with my hands just to make something. I didn’t realize how long of a time had passed, and how important it is for me to create some kind of work at least more frequently that does have some substance.  When I go through the day-to-day grind, I don’t sit down and really think of what I am passionate about or research.

    Most of my work is very material driven, but their tends to be some element of whatever is happening around me at any given moment. What drives my work is experience in a place, what I’ve learned, and the materials. I learned it’s good for me to have an assignment where I’m free to wander, discover, and trust my process.

    Do you have any final thoughts?
    I highly recommend this residency for anybody interested, or even not interested. It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was more amazing than I could have ever dreamt. I was actually very nervous going into it, because I was basically being thrown into a situation where I’d be spending almost a month with 6 other artists, only one of whom I knew, and not very well. I didn’t know what was going to happen – and thought it could turn into a horrible reality show where every day someone says, “I hate your guts!” Who knows!

    But, I had some of the best conversations I’ve had in years while I was out there. Somehow everybody there just worked magically together. The first couple of nights we cooked dinner together. When Mac and Matt left, we kept cooking together, and it literally turned into this family. We were this weird little artist family. I mean just being around those people every day was incredible, and normally, I seek solitude. It was really wonderful getting to know everyone and weird being thrown into such an intimate situation – no subject was taboo. We had very deep conversations from the beginning.

    It was strange because we all sat around the last day and no one wanted to come home. That’s funny, because normally when I leave Portland for more than three days, I really miss it. It was such an incredible experience. If PNCA continues it in the future, I absolutely 100% encourage anyone to apply for it – and take that chance.

     

     

     

  2. July 09, 2014

    INTERVIEW WITH EMMA DOROTHY CONLEY
Alumna, Emma Dorothy Conley, is currently working on an exhibition called Strange Weather with organizations like the Yes Men at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland.

Can you tell me a bit of what you’re doing now?Right now I work for the Center of Genomic Gastronomy, which is an artist led think tank that examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems.
Are there connections between your capstone and your work now?Yes, I was really interested in future-thinking – imagining what future scenarios might be like on a bunch of different scales. A lot of what I get to work on now is the future of food, and helping to bring ideas of the future into material form to make them more easily communicated to a wider public audience.
What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in Collaborative Design?I think a big part of collaborative design is making it what you want it to be. You should find the collaborators that make sense for you and your vision, while also being open to changes in direction and learning in every moment – pivoting or going in deeper at the right times. 
How do you maintain your creative practice?I think everyone is creative all the time. We’re constantly using creativity to solve problems in our lives and achieve the futures we see in our imaginations. I don’t think of maintaining my creative practice. I think creativity is more what is necessary to answer questions. If I have a question I’m trying to answer, usually a creative process is the natural way of finding answers to that question. 
What keeps you motivated and engaged?Everything in the world keeps me motivated and engaged. I really like it when ideas get to be explored on multiple levels and in multiple forms. I find it motivating when a concept is build upon in lots of layered directions, and conversations in each direction are engaging and challenge how you originally considered the concept. 
Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed your work?There was a point that I realized art and design could be used in a more practical way than I had been exposed to before – that was really exciting to me. I realized that by using different art and design approaches I could communicate ideas or ask larger and more critical questions than I could before. It was empowering to see that as an artist and designer, I could combine these creative practices with a practical approach and achieve an effective (and enjoyable!) means of communication. 
Do you have any final thoughts?What’s really exciting about working in the arts in this way (with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy), is that you get to wear a lot of different hats, learn new things constantly, and interact with so many different organizations. There’s so little money and resources in the arts – you’re constantly around brilliant, motivated, hardworking people who really care about what they are doing. Now, I’m off to work on an exhibition for the Science Gallery in Dublin with some more amazing people!

    INTERVIEW WITH EMMA DOROTHY CONLEY

    Alumna, Emma Dorothy Conley, is currently working on an exhibition called Strange Weather with organizations like the Yes Men at the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland.

    Can you tell me a bit of what youre doing now?
    Right now I work for the Center of Genomic Gastronomy, which is an artist led think tank that examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems.

    Are there connections between your capstone and your work now?
    Yes, I was really interested in future-thinking imagining what future scenarios might be like on a bunch of different scales. A lot of what I get to work on now is the future of food, and helping to bring ideas of the future into material form to make them more easily communicated to a wider public audience.

    What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in Collaborative Design?
    I think a big part of collaborative design is making it what you want it to be. You should find the collaborators that make sense for you and your vision, while also being open to changes in direction and learning in every moment pivoting or going in deeper at the right times.

    How do you maintain your creative practice?
    I think everyone is creative all the time. Were constantly using creativity to solve problems in our lives and achieve the futures we see in our imaginations. I dont think of maintaining my creative practice. I think creativity is more what is necessary to answer questions. If I have a question Im trying to answer, usually a creative process is the natural way of finding answers to that question.

    What keeps you motivated and engaged?
    Everything in the world keeps me motivated and engaged. I really like it when ideas get to be explored on multiple levels and in multiple forms. I find it motivating when a concept is build upon in lots of layered directions, and conversations in each direction are engaging and challenge how you originally considered the concept.

    Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed your work?
    There was a point that I realized art and design could be used in a more practical way than I had been exposed to before that was really exciting to me. I realized that by using different art and design approaches I could communicate ideas or ask larger and more critical questions than I could before. It was empowering to see that as an artist and designer, I could combine these creative practices with a practical approach and achieve an effective (and enjoyable!) means of communication.

    Do you have any final thoughts?
    Whats really exciting about working in the arts in this way (with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy), is that you get to wear a lot of different hats, learn new things constantly, and interact with so many different organizations. Theres so little money and resources in the arts youre constantly around brilliant, motivated, hardworking people who really care about what they are doing. Now, Im off to work on an exhibition for the Science Gallery in Dublin with some more amazing people!

  3. June 26, 2014

    The Center for Land Use Interpretation

    Curious about residencies? Some Collaborative Design students are doing one right now in Wendover, Utah. It will be exciting to see what happens! 

  4. June 18, 2014

    INTERVIEW WITH JOAN LUNDELL
Alumna, Joan Lundell, embraces ambiguity to leave room for exploration and discovery.  In this interview, Lundell talks about maps, bees, education, and fearlessly going after what you are most passionate about. 

Can you tell me a bit of what you’re doing now?Currently, the projects I’m working on involve data visualization and UX design. All of the projects I have worked on since graduation are highly collaborative and share expertise from different fields. 
One project is with Portland State University’s Cartography department. It is a collection of 5 years of maps from professional to student work. My role in the project is making the map assets cohesive. Another project I’m working on is a consumer-facing digital experience that visualizes data. 
A past project, which ran from January to mid-May, was with the Continuing Education (CE) department at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in collaboration with high schools to teach a Design + Build curriculum. Two high schools were selected that serve at-risk youth. Alpha High School in Gresham, the first to launch the design + build class, focuses on sustainability in their core curriculum. The course explored systems thinking, ecology, design and fabrication of a bee box for their school’s campus. The exciting thing about using bees as a topic is was how multifaceted it is in talking about larger issues in our world. We really dug deep into the environmental issues such as colony collapse and why bees are important for our agriculture and food systems. A challenge was guiding the students to think visually rather than verbally. An important aspect of the course was that the students learned to share their work with their peers and to the public.
Are there connections between your capstone and your work now?Some of the skills that I learned involved collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, which I am now applying to projects. It’s interesting for the Alpha High School design + build class the qualitative and quantitative process wasn’t something I used to develop curriculum, but to convey its success to our grantors in the final report. 
What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in Collaborative Design?I would say to go ahead and a look at positions that are exactly what you want to do be doing when you graduate. Look at the characteristics the organization/firm/company is seeking and use your resources and experience in school to explore within that realm.
How do you maintain your creative practice?At this point in my creative practice I am selective. I take on projects that I know I can gain from and give back to in order to help my skill base grow as well as offer my expertise to the client. 
What keeps you motivated and engaged?I think constantly looking to the work of others. I look at projects by architects, scientists, engineers, artists and all types of designers. I love it when I find a truly inspiriting project that motivates me! 
Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed your work?I began looking at the whole system of a design challenge, rather than just the piece of pie allocated to me. I have become much more flexible in my designs and embrace ambiguity. Before, I was looking for the direct path – without leaving enough time for exploration and discovery. 
Do you have any final thoughts?It is important to stick with what you’re passionate about. Upon graduation you become scared, because you have this fear of not getting a job right away, but the first couple jobs lay the foundation. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned and pursue opportunities you see your practice growing in.

 

 

 

    INTERVIEW WITH JOAN LUNDELL

    Alumna, Joan Lundell, embraces ambiguity to leave room for exploration and discovery.  In this interview, Lundell talks about maps, bees, education, and fearlessly going after what you are most passionate about.

    Can you tell me a bit of what you’re doing now?
    Currently, the projects I’m working on involve data visualization and UX design. All of the projects I have worked on since graduation are highly collaborative and share expertise from different fields.

    One project is with Portland State University’s Cartography department. It is a collection of 5 years of maps from professional to student work. My role in the project is making the map assets cohesive. Another project I’m working on is a consumer-facing digital experience that visualizes data.

    A past project, which ran from January to mid-May, was with the Continuing Education (CE) department at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in collaboration with high schools to teach a Design + Build curriculum. Two high schools were selected that serve at-risk youth. Alpha High School in Gresham, the first to launch the design + build class, focuses on sustainability in their core curriculum. The course explored systems thinking, ecology, design and fabrication of a bee box for their school’s campus. The exciting thing about using bees as a topic is was how multifaceted it is in talking about larger issues in our world. We really dug deep into the environmental issues such as colony collapse and why bees are important for our agriculture and food systems. A challenge was guiding the students to think visually rather than verbally. An important aspect of the course was that the students learned to share their work with their peers and to the public.

    Are there connections between your capstone and your work now?
    Some of the skills that I learned involved collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, which I am now applying to projects. It’s interesting for the Alpha High School design + build class the qualitative and quantitative process wasn’t something I used to develop curriculum, but to convey its success to our grantors in the final report.

    What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in Collaborative Design?
    I would say to go ahead and a look at positions that are exactly what you want to do be doing when you graduate. Look at the characteristics the organization/firm/company is seeking and use your resources and experience in school to explore within that realm.

    How do you maintain your creative practice?
    At this point in my creative practice I am selective. I take on projects that I know I can gain from and give back to in order to help my skill base grow as well as offer my expertise to the client.

    What keeps you motivated and engaged?
    I think constantly looking to the work of others. I look at projects by architects, scientists, engineers, artists and all types of designers. I love it when I find a truly inspiriting project that motivates me!

    Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed your work?
    I began looking at the whole system of a design challenge, rather than just the piece of pie allocated to me. I have become much more flexible in my designs and embrace ambiguity. Before, I was looking for the direct path – without leaving enough time for exploration and discovery.

    Do you have any final thoughts?
    It is important to stick with what you’re passionate about. Upon graduation you become scared, because you have this fear of not getting a job right away, but the first couple jobs lay the foundation. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned and pursue opportunities you see your practice growing in.

     

     

     

  5. May 29, 2014

    INTERVIEW WITH DAVE LAUBENTHAL ON DESIGN MUSEUM PORTLAND.
Alumnus, Dave Laubenthal, is about better problem-solving. Dave is the Launch Director of Design Museum Portland. He does educational programming on the role of design which involves the entire city. His MFA Collaborative Design thesis, a hypothetical program called BridgeLab, is now a functioning entity at PNCA.
Can you tell me a bit of what you’re doing now?
I’m the Launch Director for Design Museum Portland. It’s a new non-profit in town, and we started at the first of the year. We like to call ourselves a distributed museum, which means there’s no brick and mortar Design Museum. Instead we put on our exhibitions, events, and education workshops all throughout the community, thereby turning the city into the museum. 
The first one started in Boston almost five years ago, and it’s been a huge success. It’s in the tagline, “Design is everywhere,” and so are we. Design Museum thought, we do it all around Boston, let’s do it all over the US. And so they chose Portland as the second location, and we’re looking at Chicago and the Bay Area for next year. 

 Are there connections between your capstone and your work now?
Yes, going back to school later in life after running my own design firm for almost ten years made me aware of something I could not ignore. It was the realization that there were some gaps in PNCA’s approach for achieving their mission statement of preparing student’s for a life of creative practice. 
My undergrad degree is in the fine arts, and I had the perspective of an artist and a designer, so I wanted to create a hypothetical program that would address those gaps. This became my thesis project called, BridgeLab. There were community building attributes and features to BridgeLab, which runs in alignment with the Design Museum. The similarities are dense with PNCA and Design Museum Portland, but PNCA has over 600 in enrollment and alumni, and Design Museum Portland works with the entire city. 

What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in Collaborative Design?My take away from Collaborative Design is it’s an ideal, it’s not a thing. What I mean by that is, it’s a mindset and a strategic approach to whatever you’re doing. We talked a lot about systems thinking and design thinking in Collaborative Design, and depending on whom you’re talking to and the context, a lot of those things mean the same thing at the end of the day – it’s about problem solving better. It’s about incorporating multidisciplinary people and approaches into every consideration. So, if I was meeting with someone who was thinking about doing something like that, no matter what your focus or interest, this program and that way of thinking will help you with whatever you do.

How do you maintain your creative practice?
Right now it’s challenging. There are creative aspects to what I do in my day-to-day with Design Museum Portland. But with my personal practice, there’s not a lot of time these days because we’re such a nascent organization that if there’s a waking hour, I’m usually working on something. However, there was an art auction a couple weeks ago for Harper’s Playground, and I love that organization. They asked me if I would donate a piece. And rather than donate something that was in my inventory, I made a new piece.  It was a lot of late nights and a messy kitchen, but it was fun, and stimulated my appetite to find more time to do that. Although, I would say more often than not, my creative outlets these days all revolve around how to do Design Museum better.

What keeps you motivated and engaged?
I think what keeps me motivated and engaged now, as opposed to a few years ago before Collaborative Design, are successful collaborations, catalyzing community, and engaging someone in a new way. And knowing that the person you just collaborated with is walking away thinking going, “I would never have thought of that,” or “I’ve never looked at it that way.” It’s the broken record of teaching moments and learning moments being around us all the time, and when I’m teaching workshops or classes, I’m getting so much in return - as much as I’m giving away. I think that before the Collaborative Design program, I maybe didn’t recognize that. 

Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed your work?
Part of the really great thing with the program, was it’s emphasis on presentation. I became a lot more comfortable hearing myself and confident in my pitch or presentation. This has definitely served me well in the role I am currently. I know I would not be in this role if I had not gone through Collaborative Design. I mean, part of it was the people I met along the way, but some of the intangible and soft skills that weren’t polished, got polished in that program.

Do you have any final thoughts?
My final thoughts specifically to Collaborative Design, is I believe in it as much as I ever have, and I hope it continues to flourish. I appreciate the folks at PNCA that advocated for it in the beginning, because it’s a hard thing to explain to people. The ROI (Return on Investment) with that program is hard to quantify. Peter (Chair of Collaborative Design Program) being at the helm, as we both know, flies just enough off the radar, but he also has a ton of conviction. He’s not afraid to buck the trend, so to speak. And I think there should be more programs like that, and even though the content is a little bit different, I think the structure, or lack of structure (laughs), is a really great thing. Especially, since the education system, particularly art and design, is completely in flux.  Policy, education in general, and the economy are all in flux as well.  The nebulous nature of Collaborative Design, where we all were at one time in the program going, “What the hell is going on? ” were the moments we learned to embrace discomfort and undoubtedly serves us all well going forward. This is great training for the real world, and perhaps where ‘innovation’ lives. I’m glad it’s there, and I’m endeavoring to support the program as much as I can.

 

    INTERVIEW WITH DAVE LAUBENTHAL ON DESIGN MUSEUM PORTLAND.

    Alumnus, Dave Laubenthal, is about better problem-solving. Dave is the Launch Director of Design Museum Portland. He does educational programming on the role of design which involves the entire city. His MFA Collaborative Design thesis, a hypothetical program called BridgeLab, is now a functioning entity at PNCA.

    Can you tell me a bit of what you’re doing now?

    I’m the Launch Director for Design Museum Portland. It’s a new non-profit in town, and we started at the first of the year. We like to call ourselves a distributed museum, which means there’s no brick and mortar Design Museum. Instead we put on our exhibitions, events, and education workshops all throughout the community, thereby turning the city into the museum.

    The first one started in Boston almost five years ago, and it’s been a huge success. It’s in the tagline, “Design is everywhere,” and so are we. Design Museum thought, we do it all around Boston, let’s do it all over the US. And so they chose Portland as the second location, and we’re looking at Chicago and the Bay Area for next year.

     Are there connections between your capstone and your work now?

    Yes, going back to school later in life after running my own design firm for almost ten years made me aware of something I could not ignore. It was the realization that there were some gaps in PNCA’s approach for achieving their mission statement of preparing student’s for a life of creative practice.

    My undergrad degree is in the fine arts, and I had the perspective of an artist and a designer, so I wanted to create a hypothetical program that would address those gaps. This became my thesis project called, BridgeLab. There were community building attributes and features to BridgeLab, which runs in alignment with the Design Museum. The similarities are dense with PNCA and Design Museum Portland, but PNCA has over 600 in enrollment and alumni, and Design Museum Portland works with the entire city.

    What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in Collaborative Design?
    My take away from Collaborative Design is it’s an ideal, it’s not a thing. What I mean by that is, it’s a mindset and a strategic approach to whatever you’re doing. We talked a lot about systems thinking and design thinking in Collaborative Design, and depending on whom you’re talking to and the context, a lot of those things mean the same thing at the end of the day – it’s about problem solving better. It’s about incorporating multidisciplinary people and approaches into every consideration. So, if I was meeting with someone who was thinking about doing something like that, no matter what your focus or interest, this program and that way of thinking will help you with whatever you do.

    How do you maintain your creative practice?

    Right now it’s challenging. There are creative aspects to what I do in my day-to-day with Design Museum Portland. But with my personal practice, there’s not a lot of time these days because we’re such a nascent organization that if there’s a waking hour, I’m usually working on something. However, there was an art auction a couple weeks ago for Harper’s Playground, and I love that organization. They asked me if I would donate a piece. And rather than donate something that was in my inventory, I made a new piece.  It was a lot of late nights and a messy kitchen, but it was fun, and stimulated my appetite to find more time to do that. Although, I would say more often than not, my creative outlets these days all revolve around how to do Design Museum better.

    What keeps you motivated and engaged?

    I think what keeps me motivated and engaged now, as opposed to a few years ago before Collaborative Design, are successful collaborations, catalyzing community, and engaging someone in a new way. And knowing that the person you just collaborated with is walking away thinking going, “I would never have thought of that,” or “I’ve never looked at it that way.” It’s the broken record of teaching moments and learning moments being around us all the time, and when I’m teaching workshops or classes, I’m getting so much in return - as much as I’m giving away. I think that before the Collaborative Design program, I maybe didn’t recognize that.

    Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed your work?

    Part of the really great thing with the program, was it’s emphasis on presentation. I became a lot more comfortable hearing myself and confident in my pitch or presentation. This has definitely served me well in the role I am currently. I know I would not be in this role if I had not gone through Collaborative Design. I mean, part of it was the people I met along the way, but some of the intangible and soft skills that weren’t polished, got polished in that program.

    Do you have any final thoughts?

    My final thoughts specifically to Collaborative Design, is I believe in it as much as I ever have, and I hope it continues to flourish. I appreciate the folks at PNCA that advocated for it in the beginning, because it’s a hard thing to explain to people. The ROI (Return on Investment) with that program is hard to quantify. Peter (Chair of Collaborative Design Program) being at the helm, as we both know, flies just enough off the radar, but he also has a ton of conviction. He’s not afraid to buck the trend, so to speak. And I think there should be more programs like that, and even though the content is a little bit different, I think the structure, or lack of structure (laughs), is a really great thing. Especially, since the education system, particularly art and design, is completely in flux.  Policy, education in general, and the economy are all in flux as well.  The nebulous nature of Collaborative Design, where we all were at one time in the program going, “What the hell is going on? ” were the moments we learned to embrace discomfort and undoubtedly serves us all well going forward. This is great training for the real world, and perhaps where ‘innovation’ lives. I’m glad it’s there, and I’m endeavoring to support the program as much as I can.

     

  6. May 23, 2014

    MFACD ‘13 reunion! #mfacd #alumni #events

    MFACD ‘13 reunion! #mfacd #alumni #events

  7. May 23, 2014

    Collaborative Design show opening in full swing! #mfacd #collaborativedesign #pnca

    Collaborative Design show opening in full swing! #mfacd #collaborativedesign #pnca

  8. May 23, 2014

    We’re so happy to be releasing Blight 14 tonight! Congrats to the whole team. #blightmag #pnca (at mfa collaborative design studio)

    We’re so happy to be releasing Blight 14 tonight! Congrats to the whole team. #blightmag #pnca (at mfa collaborative design studio)

  9. May 22, 2014

    MFA Collaborative Design Exhibition opening is tomorrow at 6:00pm! Second floor. Gallery 214. Don’t miss MiMonster, GoBetter, and My PDX! #mimonster #gobetter #mypdx #graduate #exhibition #collaborativedesign #capstones

    MFA Collaborative Design Exhibition opening is tomorrow at 6:00pm! Second floor. Gallery 214. Don’t miss MiMonster, GoBetter, and My PDX! #mimonster #gobetter #mypdx #graduate #exhibition #collaborativedesign #capstones

  10. May 21, 2014

    Sean Tichnell defending his capstone called, Go Better: The Super Commute Challenge. Emilie Skytta and Jake Richardson up later today! #gobetter #capstone #mfacd #collaborativedesign #multimodal #transporation

    Sean Tichnell defending his capstone called, Go Better: The Super Commute Challenge. Emilie Skytta and Jake Richardson up later today! #gobetter #capstone #mfacd #collaborativedesign #multimodal #transporation