Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Field DC/Portland Touring Exchange

Our latest Network Touring Exchange wrapped up this Spring! Launched in 2016, this program provides the opportunity for movement-based Network Site Leaders and Fieldwork facilitators to visit another Network Site for 2-7 days of mutual capacity-building activities. Read about the 2016 Network Touring Exchange here.

This Spring we were happy to have Claire Alrich (Site Coordinator of The Field/DC; independent dance artist) and Sarah Greenbaum (Fieldwork facilitator; Dance Place Artistic & Community Program Manager) travel to Portland, Oregon from April 13-16, 2018. Here's what they reported from the field, to The Field!


Project Summary

The goal of this exchange was to research residency models. During the exchange we planned to meet with community leaders and organizers of art spaces that host artist residencies to research different ways feedback is incorporated into residency structures. These conversations also focused on how programs centered equity, and how equity could be enhanced.


Friday, April 13: We began our first day in Portland meeting with Subanashi (Suba) Ganesan, Creative Laureate of Portland, Portland-based dance artist, and founder of New Expressive Works (N.E.W.), a flexible use dance space in SE Portland, which hosts performances, classes, and rehearsals. We talked with Suba about N.E.W.’s residency program which incorporates three sessions of Fieldwork over its six-month session. These Fieldwork sessions are led by The Field/ Portland Site Coordinator Katherine Longstreth.

Claire Alrich, Subashini Ganesan, Sarah Greenbaum (selfie)
Next, we met with Linda K. Johnson, who shared some history of the Portland dance scene and, specifically, her role in Conduit Dance Company, which was a major force in the local, national and international dance community until it closed in 2016 after 21 years due to lack of affordable space. Linda also discussed her mentoring program Corpus, which was devised from a need in the community for continuing artistic and community development for post-graduates in the Portland area.

Saturday, April 14: Saturday morning we attended an Authentic Movement class at FLOCK, a one-room dance center in Northeast Portland with eight member-artists, each of whom pays a flat fee each month for dedicated time in the space as well as access to flexible time they can reserve week by week. Authentic Movement is one of the only regular classes the space offers; generally it is dedicated to rehearsal and workshops for its members.

After class we talked with Tahni Holt, choreographer and founder of FLOCK. Tahni shared her experience of running FLOCK as well as her motivation for starting the space; we also spoke more generally about the successes and challenges of the Portland dance community, specifically in-regards to gentrification and shifting demographics of neighborhoods.

Claire Alrich and Tahni Holt (Photo by Sarah Greenbaum)
Saturday afternoon we participated in a Fieldwork showing organized by Portland-based artists Katherine Longstreth, (The Field/ Portland Site Coordinator), and Jen Mitas (Fieldwork facilitator.) The showing took place at Performance Works NW, a church-turned-studio space run by Linda Austin, which hosts an Artist in Residence program. Several Portland-based artists, including Catherine Egan, Allie Hankins, and Michael Galen, showed their work. We shared a segment of our evening-length work, Holon!, which will premiere this July at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC.

Following the showing we went out for drinks and snacks with the Fieldwork participants, getting to know each other and sharing about our respective communities.

Sunday, April 15:
We spent Sunday morning exploring the West Hills of Portland and the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Sunday evening, we returned to N.E.W. for the Artists in Residence Fieldwork showing. We watched works in progress by the four artists and participated in the feedback session, with about 30 minutes of feedback for each artist. Katherine Longstreth led the session and Suba Ganesan also attended.

Joint showing with Field/PDX and Field/DC artists (L-R) Celine Bouley, Catherine Egan, Allie Hankins, Rachael Dichter, Katherine Longstreth, Claire Alrich, Jen Mitas, Michael Galen (Photo by Sarah Greenbaum)
Monday, April 16: Monday morning we gathered at Jen Mitas’ home along with Katherine Longstreth to discuss the Fieldwork Facilitators Guide, with an eye towards shifting the guide to make Fieldwork more equitable and accessible to all. Prior to the meeting, Jen met with Suba Ganesan; Jen brought Suba’s insight to the meeting as well. We met for three hours and had a fruitful conversation, but recognize that there is much more work to do.

From there we went to Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) to meet with Erin Boberg Doughton (Artistic Director and Curator of Performance), Roya Amirsoleymani (Artistic Director and Curator of Public Engagement) and Van Pham (Development Associate). We discussed PICA’s structure, its position in a changing neighborhood and its Creative Exchange Lab, a three-week, interdisciplinary, research-based residency that takes place on site at PICA and at nearby artist retreat Caldera Arts.

We also attended the Creative Exchange Lab’s open showing at PICA, where artists shared samples of their work with the Portland community.

Takeaways & Actions

This residency provided us with ample time to learn, discuss, question, reflect and connect. The following points reflect recurring themes that surfaced during our time in Portland – important conversations that we continue to reflect on.
  • Bringing together diverse groups of people in flexible spaces 
  • Working from a scarcity vs. abundance lens as a means for creating more equitable sharing of resources 
  • How artists shift - and shift with - the changing landscape of a city 
  • The importance of holding space for process, without expectation of a product 
  • The impossibility of a “blank slate” and the need to acknowledge background/assumptions when viewing art and giving feedback.

To learn more about future Network Touring Exchanges or how to bring Fieldwork to your city, visit The Field Network at thefield.org.

No comments: