2021 Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts named

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July 8, 2021, Roseburg, Oregon: The Ford Family Foundation today named its 2021 Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts, recognizing three Oregon visual artists for demonstrated excellence.

A jury of five arts professionals from within and outside of Oregon selected Ka’ila Farrell-Smith of Modoc Point, Rainen Knecht of Portland and rubén garcía marrufo of Portland, from a competitive pool of 198 applicants. They will receive a $35,000 unrestricted award and will join 43 of their peers selected over the last 11 years as Hallie Ford Fellows.

“It is powerful to see these three Fellows’ creative practices. Art making is central to their own well-being, as well as the well-being of their family and community. This is something that Hallie Ford experienced first-hand,” says Anne Kubisch, president of the Foundation.

The jurists individually reviewed and then collectively discussed the applicants. They determined that each awardee demonstrates a mastery of artistic practice that prepares them to step into rigorous and meaningful opportunities in the global contemporary art world. Serving on the panel were: Mike Bray, artist, Hallie Ford Fellow, and co-founder, Ditch Projects (Eugene, OR); René Morales, director of curatorial affairs and chief curator, Perez Art Museum Miami (Miami, FL); Meg Onli, Andrea B. Laporte Associate Curator, ICA Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA); Ashley Stull Meyers, writer, editor, and program director of the Multicultural Resource Center, Reed College (Portland, OR); and Ali Subotnick, an independent curator and adjunct curator, Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA).

The 2021 recipients were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of work: Artists demonstrate artistic excellence, exemplary talent, and depth of sophisticated exploration.
  • Evolution of work: Artists stand at a pivotal point in their practice and would benefit from a Fellowship at this point in their careers.
  • Impact of work: Artists' goals are consistent with Fellowship goals, and they show potential for future accomplishment and capacity to contribute significantly to Oregon's visual arts ecology.


Ka’ila Farrell-Smith (Klamath Modoc)

(b. 1982. Lives and works in Modoc Point, Oregon)

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith. Photo: Sam Gehrke / Stardust, 2020, Acrylics, Painted Hills wild red, aerosols, graphite, oil bars on wood panel, 30 x 24 in. Photo: Mike Bray

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith relocated to her Southern Oregon ancestral homelands near Modoc Point to recenter place and decolonial freedom into her art and life. The daily practices of working and harvesting from the land allow her to gather found objects, such as bullets, discarded metal, and machine parts to use as stencils in her paintings. She describes this cycle as performative, physical and intellectual: “My aim is to heal and bring forth resiliency and transformation of perception and memory.”

Farrell-Smith’s work has been recently been included in exhibitions by the Portland Art Museum, the Portland 2019 Biennial at Oregon Contemporary (formerly Disjecta Contemporary Art Center), Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon; the High Desert Museum of Art, Bend; and Linfield Gallery, McMinnville; as well as the Museum of Northwest Art, La Conner, Washington and Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art. Farrell-Smith is a 2019-2020 Fields Fellow with the Oregon Community Foundation. Her current painting series, “Land Back,” will be on view in a solo exhibition at Ditch Projects in Springfield, Oregon, August 2021.

Fellow artist, mentor and activist Mic Crenshaw says of Farrell-Smith’s impact to the Oregon arts ecology: “Drawing on ancient awareness of a people who exist in resilience and full knowledge, Ka'ila's work is profound and essential.”

Rainen Knecht

(b. 1982. Lives and works in Portland, Oregon)

Rainen Knecht. Photo: Sam Gehrke / Garbage Brain, 2020, Oil on linen with artist frame, 18 x 15 x 1 in.

Employing a form of dream logic, Rainen Knecht examines beauty, humor, and horror. Her femme figures are, as she describes, “situated between a warrior princess and sturdy milkmaid.” Clawed and distorted, they enact art historical motifs imbued with mischievous agency. In recent work, Knecht, a new mother, has studied the mother and child figure intertwined. The massive upheaval of becoming a mother, paired with the experience of witnessing her own mother’s death of cancer, is a centering gravity in Knecht’s paintings.

“Often the maternal figures are subjected to strange dreamy forms of pain and suffering, but the presence of tenderness and love is always lurking,” describes Stephanie Snyder, Director and Curator of the Cooley Gallery, Reed College.

Knecht studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2006. Her exhibition history includes solo and two-person exhibitions at Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, Oregon; SITUATIONS, New York, New York; and CAPITAL, San Francisco, California, as well as recent group exhibitions at Shulamit Nazarian and Various Small Fires in Los Angeles, California; Fisher Parrish, Brooklyn, New York; Stems Gallery, Brussels, Belgium; Ditch Projects, Springfield, Oregon; and PMOMA, Portland, Oregon. Knecht is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary.

rubén garcía marrufo

(b. 1986. Lives and works in Portland, Oregon)

rubén garcía marrufo. Photo: Sam Gehrke / el cielo más hermoso,2019, Installation view, Oregon Contemporary (Formerly Disjecta Contemporary Art Center), Portland, Oregon, Digital HD Video Projection, 22 min, Found bench. Photo: Mario Gallucci

rubén garcía marrufo describes themself simply as “a border artist.” They were born in Los Angeles on a Thursday and returned to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico on a Sunday. marrufo has a poet’s interest in language and translation. Translation enters their imagination as one might expect of a bilingual creative, but also as a tactic in artmaking, as they explain, “smuggling concepts through different mediums.” Film, video and sound are often central to this process, as collaborative jumping-off points, as the building blocks of installations, as pure moving image. marrufo’s video work borrows from documentary but is not purely fact, borrows from cinema but is more poetic than character or narrative driven.

marrufo received a Master of Fine Arts from Pacific Northwest College of Arts. Their work has been exhibited by Mexicali Rose Centro de Arte/Medios, Mexicali, Mexico; Kunstverein, Munich, Germany; MexiCali Biennial, San Bernardino, California; LACE, Los Angeles, California; MoMA and artist space, New York, New York, and in Oregon at the Portland20219 Biennial, Oregon Contemporary (formerly Disjecta Contemporary Art Center), Portland; Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and UNA Gallery, Portland. They are a 2020 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship recipient.

Collaborator and Hallie Ford Fellow Sharita Towne says of marrufo’s work, “No one is sharing work like this in Oregon that I'm familiar with. It feels like a soft shaking up of things, a breathing of a love of film and moving image, performance, and installation. It feels like something new, something to be curious about.”


The Visual Arts Program honors the late Hallie Ford, co-founder of The Ford Family Foundation, who left a legacy based on an interest in and a lifelong support of the visual arts. The Hallie Ford Fellowships are the flagship element of the Visual Arts Program. In addition, the program offers grants to visual artists for unanticipated career opportunities; supports artists-in-residence programs in Oregon and out of state; brings curators and critics from outside the region to Oregon for studio visits and community dialogue; supports exhibitions, catalogues and other forms of documentation; and awards grants for small capital projects.

The Ford Family Foundation was established in 1957 by Kenneth W. and Hallie E. Ford. Its mission is “successful citizens and vital rural communities” in Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. The Foundation is located in Roseburg, Oregon, with a Scholarship office in Eugene. For more information about the Foundation and its Visual Arts Program, visit www.tfff.org.

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