Ka’ila Farrell-Smith

Hallie Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts 2021

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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.”

“As a content creator, writer, mark maker and mentor, I've removed my labor from the urban center instead focusing my conceptual practice of performative painting with the land. This performance of refusal and flight is rooted in learning decolonial modes of resistance and freedom from my ancestors and contemporaries."

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.”


Stardust, 2020, Acrylics, Painted Hills wild red, aerosols, graphite, oil bars on wood panel, 30 x 24 in. Photo: Mike Bray

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