GLEAN, an annual art residency program, is accepting artist applications for the 2019 program. Artists with a broad range of experience and cultural perspectives are encouraged to apply. One of the five residencies is reserved for a student currently enrolled in an art program at a local college or university. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31.
Apply for GLEAN
GLEAN is an art residency program run through a partnership between Metro, the government that manages the greater Portland area's garbage and recycling system; Recology, an employee-owned company that manages resource recovery facilities; and crackedpots, a local environmental arts nonprofit.
Artists are selected each year by a jury of arts and environmental professionals. The program is accepting artist applications for the 2019 program.
Apply before January 31.
GLEAN was created in 2010 to help raise awareness about our consumption habits and waste, and to inspire new ways of looking at trash as a resource. Artists selected for the program are given license to rummage the piles of Metro Central transfer station for the materials they’ll use to make art. The resulting pieces are then exhibited in a local gallery.
As GLEAN opened its call for next year’s artists, it also welcomed Leslie Vigeant as its new program manager. Vigeant has a Master’s degree in Applied Craft and Design and has been working in the arts for about ten years. She also freelances in marketing and event planning, and teaches at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and Portland State University.
She was also a GLEAN artist.
We sat down with Vigeant to talk about her experience and her vision for GLEAN.
You were a GLEAN artist. How did that experience impact you?
Being a GLEAN artist was a really awesome experience for me. I was doing my Master's thesis at the time, so half of the program was during my thesis and half of the program was after. It was really helpful for me to have a show a few months outside of grad school, because it's generally a slump that people go through. GLEAN helped me to work through that and to maintain a rigor in my practice.
And then post-GLEAN I think that I felt more empowered. There's something really badass about being a five-foot woman in steel-shank boots tromping around in a pile of trash. I sold work at the opening and you get a stipend, so I think in a lot of ways the experience was just really validating for me. I was like “OK, people are interested in my art, and they are interested in my ideas. There is something to be done here.” It was a great motivator.
Why do you get excited about GLEAN?
Oh, man. It's just a wonderful program. It makes so much sense. It's such a smart and obvious thing that should be happening across the country.
The thing that gets me the most excited about it now from my new position is getting other people excited about it, and getting other artists to think about material in a new way. It's something that has been happening in the art world for quite a long time, where we don't feel as an artist that we are still restricted to using only oil paint, or porcelain or high-brow traditional materials any more. A lot of contemporary artists are using cement and couches and all types of things. The thing that’s the most exciting to me now is thinking “How can we hook other artists into getting excited about these really obscure materials and translating them into a new context?”
What does GLEAN offer the community at large?
It shows people that trash is a subjective term and that we can shift the way that society views, values or devalues materials. There's the (Do-It-Yourself) movement and there's a push for people to reduce, reuse and recycle. Portland is a great city for that but we're definitely not perfect. I've seen the mounds of trash that I'm personally guilty of throwing away. GLEAN is an eye-opener.
Where do you see GLEAN headed in the future?
We now have a really rich history of artists coming in and making beautiful work and I am interested in continuing to elevate the work. I'm also interested in diversifying the program more. I think that we can always encourage artists to make better, more critical work.
Down the road, it would be amazing to do something similar to San Francisco where artists have studios. I want to look into partnering with an institution or finding some kind of space so that some of the artists have access to things that they might not have, like a metal shop, or a wood shop. And I think about the big picture — how can we do more of this in other places? How can we refine and then become a prototype and something that can be implemented across the country? I mean, why not?
What would you say to someone who is considering applying to GLEAN?
Apply! Do it! I think everyone who is interested should apply. GLEAN should be a place where people feel comfortable taking risks, because that's inherent in what we do as artists. I think that if someone gets excited about material exploration, or if somebody wants to work big but can't afford it; if somebody has a really strong practice but is feeling like they're in a rut — there's just so many ways that all types of people at different levels within their art practice can access this program. I think they should all apply. It's free to apply — we deliberately make it very accessible.
You don't need to be someone who already uses waste material. I really want to encourage artists that have a practice outside of that to apply too. It's really an opportunity to grow your practice. It's certainly for people who already use reused materials, but it's just as much for people who don't.