Critical Conversations

Sarah Farahat, Self-Portrait, Yuba River, Yuba Goldfields, California, Nisenan Land, 2015. Archival pigment print, 44×66 in. Photo: Kristine Eudey

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A collaborative initiative

Critical Conversations provides a collective space for artists and cultural producers that is rooted in exchange and inquiry. The program is led by our partner, the University of Oregon. Other collaborators have included Reed College, Portland State University, Pacific Northwest College of Art at Willamette University and the Oregon College of Art and Craft.

Visual Arts Curator Tour

Christian Viveros-Fauné and Lumi Tan, two recent visiting curators hosted through the Critical Conversations program at PNCA at Willamette University and the University of Oregon

Case study: Visual Arts Program brings national curators to Oregon

This Visual Arts Program initiative brings professional curators and critics from outside the Northwest to conduct one-on-one studio visits with established artists, deliver lectures and join in community conversations. The program aims to enhance the quality of artistic endeavors throughout the state. Three tours per year are hosted by area institutions in partnership with the Foundation.


Critical Conversations facilitates periodic convenings for artists, arts writers and cultural producers from Oregon and beyond. During these gatherings, participants think through a wide variety of pertinent topics in the field of contemporary art, including:

  • art practice
  • writing
  • public programming
  • education
  • markets
  • community impacts
  • related institutional structures, and
  • socio-cultural currents in Oregon and the world
Visual Arts Convenings

Jan Verwoert, independent curator, critic, and writer presented to an audience at the Portland Art Museum and also gathered with Oregon arts writers for a two-day convening in Salem.



The publications component of Critical Conversations engages Oregon’s arts writers and cultural producers around currents in society, our region and the field of art. Commissioned writing comes from a range of perspectives and creative practices. The writing varies from speculative essays, art reviews and interviews, to photo essays and poems. All can be found on the Oregon Visual Arts Ecology Project.

2021 Conditions: Critical Conversations Arts Writing PDF
2021 Figuring: Critical Conversations Arts Writing PDF

The Oregon Arts Ecology Project

The Oregon Visual Arts Ecology Project website explores and documents the broad field of visual arts in Oregon, from the early 1900s to today. A project of the Oregon Arts Commission and The Ford Family Foundation, the site features historic and contemporary content drawn from multiple sources. The site will never be encyclopedic, but demonstrates and celebrates the interconnectedness of artists, organizations, curators, historians, arts writers and communities across Oregon.

Oregon Arts Ecology Project

Oregon Arts Ecology

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