2019 Hallie Ford Fellows Announced

Artists from Eugene, Pendleton and Portland 

acknowledged for their talent and their creative practices

May 31, 2019: The Ford Family Foundation today named its 2019 Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts, recognizing five Oregon visual artists for demonstrated excellence of their work and potential for significant advancement in their practices of art. 

A jury of five arts professionals from within and outside of Oregon selected Niraja Lorenz of Eugene, James Lavadour of Pendleton, and Corey Arnold, Jess Perlitz and Sharita Towne of Portland from an exceptionally diverse pool of nearly 190 applicants. They each will receive a $25,000 unrestricted award and will join 35 of their peers selected over the last nine years as Hallie Ford Fellows.

"Their talent cuts across the spectrum of disciplines," said Anne Kubisch, president of the Foundation. “They represent contemporary forms of expressions that convey ideas and stories that encourage viewers to think about our world in a different way.” 

The jurists individually reviewed and then collectively debated the applicants. They determined that each awardee is at a pivotal moment of career transition and an infusion of resources now may help to catalyze each artist’s practice in transformative ways. Serving on the panel were: Lisa Dent, Artistic Director of Converge 45 (New York, N.Y.); Emily Liebert, Curator of Contemporary Art, Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio); Mack McFarland, Artist, Director of the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture, Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland, Oregon); Helen Molesworth, Independent Curator and former Chief Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Los Angeles, Calif.); and Christopher Rauschenberg, Artist, President of Blue Sky Gallery, and President of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (Portland, Oregon). 

The 2019 recipients were selected based on the following criteria: 

  • Quality of their work: artistic excellence/exemplary talent and depth of sophisticated exploration evidenced in past work,
  • Evolution of their work: whether the individual is poised at a pivotal point in his or her practice and would benefit from a Fellowship at this time of career, and
  • Effect of the Fellowship on their work: how the Fellowship goals are consistent with the artist's goals, potential for future accomplishment and capacity both to improve individual work and contribute significantly to Oregon's visual arts ecology.


Corey Arnold: Documentary and fine art photography. Commercial fisherman. Arnold’s practice is grounded at the intersection of nature and human interaction. His father introduced him to the sea, a relationship he has continued throughout his formative and college years. In 2002, Arnold embarked on a 17-year journey of documenting the visceral experience of life at sea for commercial fishermen worldwide. What started as an attempt to capture the surreal encounters he once experienced while working on a crab boat in the Bering Sea, led to a deeper contemplation of humankind’s relationship with the wildness and why it captures our collective imagination.  His photographs have been exhibited worldwide, including solo shows in Perth, Scotland; Kabelvåg, Norway; Shanxi, China; Knokke-Heist, Belgium, Provence and Le Guilvinec, France; and in museums and galleries in the United States including Portland, Oregon; San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif.; Telluride, Colo.; New York City; Chicago; and Seattle. Participation in selected group exhibitions have taken him across North America, Europe, and Asia, including Vienna; Brussels, Belgium; Nigbo, China; London; Bologna, Italy; Paris; Oslo; and Tokyo. His photographs have been featured in The New Yorker, National Geographic, The Paris Review, Time, New York Times, California Sunday Magazine, Harpers, Outside, Esquire, Rolling Stone (Italy), Stern Magazine (Germany), Artweek, MARE (Germany), GEO (France), The Guardian, American Photo, Juxtapoz, and others. Nazraeli Press has published two of his books including Fish-Work: The Bering Sea (2011) and Fishing with My Dad (2012). Arnold was awarded a National Geographic Society Storytelling Grant in 2019. He won first prize for nature in the 2018 World Press Photo awards and won first prize at Pictures of the Year International. (PoYI) for his 2016 National Geographic cover story: “Unplugging the Selfie Generation.” Numerous private, corporate and public collections have collected his work, including the Portland Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography.  He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif. Arnold is represented by Charles Hartman Fine Art (Portland, Oregon); Richard Heller Gallery (Santa Monica, Calif.), and by Redeye Represents (Los Angeles).

 Artist Quote: “I recently revisited the industrial fishing centers of the Aleutian Islands where I’d  worked as a commercial crab fisherman. This time, I dove into themes that symbolize the tension between humanity and wildness.  In Dutch Harbor, Alaska, America’s national symbol retains its mighty appearance while also ravaging rotting fish carcasses and old lunch meat out of dumpsters and fishing nets. For me, the capture of a blinking bald eagle, scrappily defending his or her meal from surrounding scavengers seems to immortalize the soul of America working hard to adapt to one another and a changing environment.”  

James Lavadour: Painting and printmaking. A self-taught artist, Lavadour learned his art through endless walking, looking, hearing and feeling the natural world around him; from music, reading art magazines and, most of all, from the act of painting itself. His work is deeply rooted in the landscape of Eastern Oregon, daily hiking the ceded boundaries of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation where he lives. He has been making artwork and exhibiting for more than four decades, regionally and nationally in Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tenn.; Missoula, Montana; Indianapolis, Ind.; Seattle; Toledo, Ohio; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Bentonville, Ark.; New York City.; Tacoma, Wash., Boise, Idaho; Santa Fe, N.M.; Philadelphia; New Brunswick, N.J.; Tulsa, Okla; Houston, Tex.; and Washington, D.C. Abroad his work has been showcased in the 55th Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy; in Geneva, Switzerland; as well as in the New Zealand cities of Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton; and in Canadian provinces of Ottawa, Saskatchewan and Alberta. He has been awarded state and national recognition and support by the Flintridge Foundation (Pasadena, Calif.); the Joan Mitchell Foundation (New York City); the Oregon Governor’s Arts Award (Salem, Oregon); the Seattle Art Commission’s Major NW Major Works Award; the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art; Rutgers Center for the Innovative Print Making Fellowship (New Brunswick, N.J.); and an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters by Eastern Oregon University. Museums that have collected his work include the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (New York City) the Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, Wash.); the Whitney Museum of American Art, (New York City); the Montclair Art Museum (Montclair, N.J.); and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, Ark.). Regionally he has been collected by the Boise Art Museum (Boise, Idaho), the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, (Pendleton, Oregon); the Crocker Museum of Art (Sacramento, Calif.); the Washington State Arts Commission (Olympia, Wash.), the Oregon State Capital Art Collection (Salem, Oregon) and in Portland by the Oregon Health and Science University and the Portland Art Museum. His career is well documented in catalogues produced by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; the Global Art Affairs Foundation (Leiden, Netherlands); the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (Salem, Oregon), the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (New York City); The Gallery at Bristol-Meyers Squibb, (Princeton, N.J.), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Ariz.), the Seattle Art Museum; and the Portland Art Museum. Fine art publications and national newspapers that have chronicled his career include ARTFORUM, New York Times, Seattle Times, Indian Country Today, Art in America, Art Reviews and ArtWeek. One of his greatest accomplishments is his dedication to Native American and indigenous artists with his founding and continual leadership of Crows Shadow Institute of the Arts located on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon. One hundred percent of proceeds from Lavadour’s prints sold by Crow’s Shadow are donated back to support of CSIA’s ongoing operations and programming. He is represented by PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.

Artist Quote: “My art education came from the land, having hiked the Umatilla Reservation and endlessly examined the properties of paint. The erosion, sedimentation, flow and hydrology that shape the land are the same as what happens in paint. There are mountains and rivers in a wet brush stroke. The land and I are one.”

Niraja Cheryl Lorenz: Quilting. After twenty years as a research psychologist she is now a full-time artist. Lorenz’s medium is quilting, specifically “piecing,” working with shibori-dyed fabric and solid-colored commercial and hand-dyed cotton. She cuts free-hand shapes and lines, sews them together in varied combinations that create textures and forms, and then combines them into large compositions. The daughter of an artist and a scientist, Lorenz began weaving as a teenager.   Quilting became her passion 25 years ago. With additional mentoring by renowned fiber artist Nancy Crow, her unique visual voice quickly emerged. Her work steadily receives invitations to exhibit as she begins moving from the quilt art world to that of exhibition installation. In 2015 she was invited to submit to Color Improvisations 2, an acclaimed international exhibition. Two of Lorenz’s large-scale quilts from her Strange Attractor series, were accepted and continue to travel through Europe and North America. With the expansion of the scale of her work, the detail and complexity also intensified. Thousands of pieces of fabric are combined to create subtle variations in color and texture resulting in powerful visual images. Some works have absorbed as many as 250 hours of creative labor. Lorenz has exhibited in the Textile Museum of Canada (Toronto); the Carnegie Center for Art and History (New Albany, Indiana); at the Schweinfurth Art Center (Auburn, New York); the Visions Art Museum (San Diego, Calif); Huntington Museum of Art (Huntington, W.  Va) and numerous locations in Oregon. The traveling exhibition including her recent work is being showcased in Sitges, Spain; Kurpfalzisches Museum, Heidelberg, Germany; Touch & Technik Textilmuseum, Neumunster, Germany; the Hallen am Rhein, Schaffhausen, Switzerland; and the Council Building, Konstanz, Germany, and in 2020 at the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH). She has also exhibited in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. Lorenz has received awards associated with the exhibitions including Award for Best of Show multiple times, Award for Design Excellence, Award for Creative Artistry, and Sponsor’s Choice Award. Her work is preserved in catalogues accompanying the exhibitions. In 2020 her most recent work, “Edge of Chaos”, will be showcased in Pasadena, California, as part of Art of the Cosmos, a 4-month long event featuring international artists inspired by images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The medium of quilting engages both her creative and scientific spirits; she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Western Washington University, followed by a Ph.D. in human experimental psychology from Cornell University.

Artist Quote: “I like to say that my work is not driven by a concept, but rather stories arise only after each composition emerges. My creations can be seen from many dimensions: a magnification of microscopic particles, the vastness of space, a cross-section, an aerial view, or all of these in one piece.”

Jess Perlitz: Sculpture.  Associate professor of art and head of sculpture, Lewis & Clark College. Jess Perlitz makes sculpture to think about how space gets articulated and how we communicate within that. At the center of her practice is a fascination with how artwork can be used and occupied as well as the pageantry of participation. She focuses on how the symbolic functions. Rather than thinking about what the symbolic represents, she is interested in how people use it to make meaning. Her projects take many forms, traversing performance, sculpture, drawing, and writing. Her recent work considers landscape — not as something separate from us, but instead considering the ways in which we seek to define and recognize ourselves within it. Exhibitions of her work have crisscrossed the country including the most recent Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts by the New York Academy of Arts and Letters (NY) and two years ago, a permanent outdoor installation in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). Her installation, Chorus, has been at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia since 2015, as part of the historical site’s ongoing artist installation series. A Canadian by birth, she immigrated to the United States and lived on the East Coast. Her work has appeared in a variety of venues such as playgrounds, fields, galleries and museums, including the Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY; Cambridge Galleries, Ontario, Canada; and De Fabriek, Eindhoven, the Netherlands. She has exhibited in other communities including Gainesville and Miami, FL; Arlington, VA; and Franconia, MN. Perlitz is the recipient of awards and grants from her earlier years from the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils and the Canadian Sculpture Centre, and a 2009 Joan Mitchell MFA Grant Award. Since moving to Oregon, she has received project and research grants from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) and Lewis & Clark College as well as an Individual Artist Fellowship and the 2018 Joan Shipley Award, both from the Oregon Arts Commission. She has appeared in publications, including Canadian Art, Philadelphia Art Magazine, Queens Chronicle, Spacing Magazine, Harper Collins Publishers and the Toronto Star. Perlitz is a graduate of Bard College, received her Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and clown training from the Manitoulin Center for Creation and Performance. 

Artist Quote: “I make sculptures to contemplate how we define and locate ourselves in the world around us. I am attentive to how we understand scale through our bodies, how we connect with each other, and the symbolic ways we create identity, seek relief, or communicate power and place.” 

Sharita Towne: Interdisciplinary. Adjunct professor in Intermedia, Thesis, and Critical Studies, at Pacific Northwest College of Art. In prior years she was a teaching assistant on a Fulbright grant in Bahia, Brazil, and served as an instructor for the Portland African American Leadership Form & SEI as well as video at Portland State University. She served as a cultural ambassador for the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program in Sevilla, Spain. Towne is a research-based video artist and printmaker most interested in creating interdisciplinary community art projects that engage local and global Black geographies, histories and possibilities. Her interests lie in unpacking the inherited struggles of past burdens and in affording collective catharsis. Her practice takes on the past, surveys the present and demands a better future by creating counter-archives to recorded history. She works in ink, paper, fabric, video, stereo-photography, performance, installation, educational workshops, public conversation and through self-publishing to honor adversely affected diasporic communities. She was recently awarded a Creative Capital grant for BLERG - the Black Life Experiential Research Group, an interdisciplinary collaborative for inquiry and activism at the intersection of art, urban planning and radical geography. In shifting through historical and contemporary Black geographies, the work provides clues to understanding how Black possibilities live, breathe and reclaim space. The project "gives language, shape and form to Black imagination through public art and intervention, augmented reality, print and video, to breathe possibilities back into sites of Black Life in Portland and beyond." Through collaboration, stereo-photography, printmaking, video and community art projects, she has worked at memorials in Germany; in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria; in Brazil; in gentrifying cities like Portland, Oregon, and New Orleans; in schools, museums and neighborhoods; and within her own family. Her work has been exhibited in Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Cleveland; Ann Arbor, Mich.; at PSI MoMA in New York City; the Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans; the Brooklyn Museum in New York City; and the Buenos Aires Faena Arts Center. Her studies in Berlin; Copenhagen, the West Bank in Palestine; Rio de Janeiro; Santiago de Chile; and the Yucatan, Mexico have enlightened her perspective on her creative practice. She has received support from organizations such as Art Matters, the Fulbright Program, the Precipice Award, Calligram Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, The Ford Family Foundation and the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC). Towne speaks or has working knowledge of five languages. She received a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a Master of Fine Arts in contemporary art practices from Portland State University.

Artist Quote: “Within the framework of a city and state built on exclusion, not unlike other places, my hope with my latest work is that new blueprints can be envisioned and that art can point us toward a spatialized repair, reform, and restructuring of the place we live.”

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