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!
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)|
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)|
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)|
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.
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.