Lenka Clayton is an interdisciplinary artist whose work considers, exaggerates, and alters the accepted rules of everyday life, extending the familiar into the realms of the poetic and absurd.
In previous works, she has searched for and photographed every person mentioned by name in a German newspaper; worked with artists who identify as blind to recreate Brancusi’s Sculpture for the Blind from a spoken description; and reconstituted a lost museum from a sketch found in an archive.
Clayton is the founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood, a self-directed, open-source artist residency program that takes place inside the homes and lives of artists who are also parents. There are currently over 1,200 artists-in-residence in 82 countries.
In 2017 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum commissioned a major new work by Clayton and collaborator Jon Rubin, entitled A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and a congregation’s call to action circle through New York. With the participation of six diverse venues around New York City, the artists arranged for an essential element from each site—referenced in the project’s title—to circulate from one place to the next, creating a six-month network of social and material exchange.
Laura Glazer (she/her) is an artist whose work is socially-engaged and depends on the participation of other people, sometimes a close friend, and other times, complete strangers. Her background in photography and design inform her social practice, and her projects appear as books, workshops, radio shows, zines, festivals, exhibitions, installations, posters, signs, postal correspondence, videos, and sculpture.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and published in The New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and the BBC. Her book of photographs and interviews, I Want Everyone to Know: The Black History Month Doors at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, was published in collaboration with the Dr Martin Luther King Jr School Museum of Contemporary Art in April 2022. She was a 2022–2023 Artist Fellow at the New York Public Library Picture Collection.
She holds an MFA in Contemporary Art Practice: Art and Social Practice from Portland State University and a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Born in northern Virginia, she was a longtime resident of upstate New York and is now based in Portland, Oregon.
Caryn Aasness (they/them) is an artist and questioner originally from Long Beach, California living and working in Portland, Oregon. Caryn makes work from what is abundant, available, and inevitable in their life; mental illness, queerness, tropes, language, collections, and the kindness of strangers. The field of social practice provided an opportunity for them to use service, conversation, writing, and noticing as central formats in their work. Caryn has a BFA in Fiber from California State University Long Beach, an MFA in Social Practice from Portland State University, and a snake tattoo.
Amanda Leigh Evans
Amanda Leigh Evans is an artist, educator and cultivator investigating the social-ecological interdependence of land use systems, site-specific communities, and deep time. Her work manifests as ceramic objects, gardens, books, websites, videos, sculptures, and long-term collaborative systems. Evans holds an MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University and Post-Bacc in Ceramics from Cal State Long Beach. She was raised in the California Inland Empire and rural Nevada County, and lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.
Evans’ work is rooted in design thinking, research-based inquiry, and long term collaboration, often resulting in artwork that exists outside of traditional gallery spaces. For five years (2016-21), Evans was an artist-in-residence in an affordable housing complex in East Portland, where she collaborated with her neighbors to create The Living School of Art, an intergenerational alternative art school that centered the creative practices of their multilingual community. For eight years (2014-22), she was a core collaborator at KSMoCA, a contemporary art museum and social practice artwork developed with students in a public elementary school in NE Portland. Before that, she was a collaborator on the LA Urban Rangers (2011-13) and Play the LA River (2013-15), on projects making visible the history, politics and ecology of the LA River.
Currently, Evans is a Visiting Assistant Professor teaching ceramics and social practice at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. She and her collaborator Tia Kramer are the DeepTime Collective. They are developing When The River Becomes a Cloud (2022-25), a co-authored public artwork generated through a long term artist residency at a PreK-12th grade public school in rural Eastern WA.
Emily Fitzgerald is a consultant, photographer, artist, educator, and storyteller. Her practice focuses on the intersection of the social, political, and visual in order to inspire dialogue around complex issues and reframe our ways of relating to one another. Emily facilitates conversation and creates site-specific art installations in non-traditional, public, and unexpected places. She is the co-founder of Works Progress Agency, a socially-engaged art studio and consultancy, and from 2016-2019 was a co-curator of MATTER, a storefront space dedicated to social practice exhibitions, workshops, and other happenings. She teaches art, photography, Design Thinking classes at Portland State University.
2023-24 Art + Social Practice Program Coordinator
M. Michelle Illuminato (she/her) creates events, public exchanges, and artworks that help to reveal the complicated and often contradictory relationship between people, their culture, and the land they live on. She works individually as well as with the collective, next question on projects that have been exhibited nationally as well as in Italy, Poland, Germany, and Serbia.
In 1982, Illuminato began working in the steel mill town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. Over the next several years she invited hundreds of artists to collaborate with each other, the towns people and the place. The project received, ‘Best Event in Pennsylvania’, the key to the city for Illuminato, as well as broke ground on new ways that socially-community-driven artworks could receive art funding. After visiting Aliquippa, curator Mary Jane Jacob included her in a year-long project, ‘Points of Entry’, funded by the Three Rivers Art Festival and included Group Material, Ann Carlson, Fred Wilson, Daniel Martinez. Recent work includes: Momentary Monuments for a Wednesday Afternoon, Portland,Tripoli Street BakeYard, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, Pittsburgh, and Lost & Found Factory, Pittsburgh and Denton, Texas, which received a national award from Americans for the Arts. With next question, she created, The Neighborhood Revisited, a trolley tour that used Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood tours as a way to better understand shifting city spaces.
For 2023-24, Illuminato will be the Coordinator of the Art + Social Practice Program and since 2016 has been the Head of the CORE Program at Portland State University. Deeply interested in alternative teaching practices, she received the Master Teaching Award from Foundations: Foundations: Art, Theory, and Education in 2017.
Adrian Ruth Williams
Adrian Williams (she/her, b. 1979, Portland, Oregon) is a transdisciplinary artist and writer invested in various forms of language. Her practice involves voice, text, sound, video, photography, performance, and the immersive handling of space. Employing conceptual narrative structures, her work revolves in both literal and fictitious arenas, fielding the conditions that determine form to explore the form of the human condition.
Williams’ work has been exhibited internationally at institutions including the 21er Haus, Vienna, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Portikus, Frankfurt, Artpace, San Antonio, Art Production Fund LAB, New York, GAM – Galleria Civica D’Arte Moderna E Contemporanea, Turin, MACBA, Barcelona, the Athens Biennial, Athens.
Williams received a Bachelors degree from the Cooper Union, New York, and is a Meisterschulerin of the Städelschule, Frankfurt. She resides in Frankfurt, Germany and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Applied Sciences (HFG), Offenbach, writing about voice.
Alison Heryer is an interdisciplinary artist whose work combines costume, installation, performance, and community engagement. As a costume designer, she is a member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829. Her design credits include productions at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 59E59 Theaters, La MaMa, The New Victory Theater, Portland Center Stage, Portland Opera, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Artists Repertory Theatre, ZACH Theatre, The Hypocrites, and Redmoon. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, World Stage Design, and The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Awards include a RACC Build Grant, Drammy Award and Austin Critics Table Award for Costume Design, and the ArtsKC Inspiration Grant. Heryer is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Texas at Austin. She is a faculty member at Portland State University where she was recently granted the Sue Horn-Caskey & Charles F. Caskey Professorship of Textile Arts & Costume Design.
Alison Heryer’s 2021/2022 projects have been generously supported by a RACC Build Grant.
Patricia Vázquez Gómez
Patricia Vázquez Gómez works and lives between the ancient Tenochtitlán and the unceded, occupied, stolen and colonized lands of the Chinook, Clackamas, Multnomah and other Indigenous peoples. Her art practice investigates the social functions of art, the intersections between aesthetics, ethics and politics and the expansion of community based art practices. She uses a variety of media to carry out her research: painting, printmaking, video, exhibitions, music and socially engaged art projects. The purpose and methodologies of her work are deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and other social justice movements in the US and Mexico. Patricia’s work can be explored at patriciavazquez.art.