The Center for Contemporary Art and Culture at PNCA is pleased to announce "Arrowhead," a forthcoming permanent intervention of artworks into PNCA’s main campus building by eight Oregon Indigenous artists to symbolize our commitment to an Indigenized future.
Funding for this project has been graciously provided by the Oregon Community Foundation's Creative Heights Initiative and The Ford Family Foundation’s Visual Arts Program and ongoing support from the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture at PNCA.
PNCA’s main campus building is a former federal post office designed by American architect, Lewis P. Hobart, which opened in 1919. Carved into the travertine of the Historic Hallway over eight of the doors on the ground floor are identical male “Chieftain” heads adorned in feathered headdress. They do not represent real people nor were the tribal people of this place a part of their making or compensated in any way.
Conceptualized in 2018, PNCA faculty member and lead artist Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos) and former director/curator for the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture Mack McFarland designed the "Arrowhead" project, which would simultaneously decolonize and Indigenize the school.
The concept was to commission eight Indigenous artists of the Columbia Bioregion to create architectural interventions into the building at these sites. Commissioned artists include: Greg Archuleta (Clackamas/Chinook/Santiam Kalapuya/Shasta), Anthony Hudson/Carla Rossi (Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde/Siletz), Natalie Kirk (Warm Springs), Lillian Pitt (Wasco/Warm Springs/Yakama), Greg Robinson (Chinook), Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos), Toma Villa (Yakama), and Shirod Younker (Coquille/Coos).
In 2022, project progress was rekindled after the pandemic by Sara Siestreem, Mack McFarland, and Hannah Bakken Morris, assistant director for the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture. After months of careful planning and collaboration with OCF and FFF, we are excited to announce that a final installation plan to disperse the creative visions and messages of these eight Indigenous artists throughout the entire first floor of PNCA is currently underway.
The original carving sites will receive a new permanent intervention by Sara Siestreem, assisted by MFA in print media candidate Marvin Parra. She is creating copper shields adorned with text and basket patterns that "work together to educate and uplift the community who inhabit the space and to honor the land and people who host you."
As a teaser to announce this project, Anthony Hudson/Carla Rossi's video piece, "Lamp Back," has been set into its permanent installation site in the PNCA Atrium. The general public is encouraged to come view during our normal gallery hours: Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The final installations covering the original carved marble “Chieftain” heads will provide time and space for PNCA’s community and its many visitors to reflect upon how the image of the Native American is deployed in historical and contemporary culture in the U.S. This project is one way for PNCA and Portland residents to physically decenter the history of settler colonialism, and more importantly, to mark the vision of an Indigenized future.
A public reception and additional programming is scheduled for April 2023 and beyond -- please stay tuned through our email newsletters for forthcoming details!
If you have any questions about this project, please contact Hannah Bakken Morris, assistant director for the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture at firstname.lastname@example.org.