Volume XV | Issue 1 | Spring 2015
David Eckard strikes a still pose in his artwork from Prestidigitation-A Folly in Eleven Acts, 2009. Photo: David Eckard

An artistic community

David Eckard makes a plan that includes other artists

David Eckard grew up on a farm in the Midwest.  When he turned 50 last year, he started sowing seeds of a slightly different nature but with the same sense of family and community that imbued his early years. 

one of the first three Hallie Ford Fellows

In 2010, The Ford Family Foundation named Eckard one of its first three Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts. The fellowship is a $25,000 award bestowed on Oregon visual artists who have demonstrated a depth of sophisticated practice and potential for future accomplishment. Eckard, a sculptor and mixed media artist, is an associate professor in sculpture at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland. 

“Receiving the award … deepened my feeling of community, not just the faculty community, but of active, dedicated artists such as what we experience when the Fellows go away for our annual convening,” Eckard says. “This is important because creative work can be so isolating that you feel as if you are in a desert sometimes.”

Down payment

One of his first jobs after receiving the fellowship was a public artwork for the Vashon Island library.  This commission financed a down payment on a permanent residence, complete with a barn and enough land to build studio spaces for other artists in the back of the property. The deal closed in July 2014.

“Turning 50, I began to realize that if I was going to be in a good situation by the time I was 60, I’d better start getting serious about finding a property that would allow me to have goals that were longer than semester to semester,” he says.

An eight-spoked wooden structure.David Eckard’s Spoke from the exhibition Tournament (lumens), which debuted at the Art Gym at Marylhurst University. Photo by Meg Shiffler.

One of those goals is to build community, and he hopes to do that by building studio spaces for other artists. “This is about committing to my own creativity, but also how I might be more inclusive, sharing the opportunity with others,” Eckard says. “How exciting this would be to be able to offer up more space and actually build a community on the property. I fantasize about what that could be — an art campground.”

“I want to surround myself with people who are doing the good work, the dirty work, the hard work, who are also helping to maintain a creative culture.”  Eckard says he’d like to see artist colleagues work collectively and challenge one another to have a larger presence. In his vision of the space, artists would be dedicated to their individual work but encouraged to collaborate on shared projects. 

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