Annual GLEAN exhibition opening
6-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21
1231 NW Hoyt St. Suite 102., Portland
The show runs Jan. 21 through Feb. 25.
Noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
From trash to treasure - five local artists spent months picking through discarded objects and turning their finds into works of art. Their work is part of GLEAN, the annual art program where artists are given access to Metro Central transfer station to create art from found materials and items.
The program was created in 2010 as a partnership among Metro; Recology, the waste management company that operates Metro Central; and Cracked Pots, a non-profit organization that focuses on art and waste reduction. GLEAN calls attention to waste in greater Portland and aims to inspire people to think differently about the things they throw away.
This month, the artists of GLEAN will show these artworks at the annual artist-in-residence exhibition. Here's a bit about this year's artists and why they make art.
Even before being selected as an artist in residency for GLEAN, Caryn Aasness often thought about the relationship between people and the things they own. Previously Aasness explored compulsive hoarding - what people buy and keep. At the transfer station, they’ve seen another side through massive dumps of trash.
Aasness is a MFA candidate in Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice program. They earned a bachelor of fine arts in fiber from California State University, Long Beach. Aasness hopes their GLEAN work will prompt people to ask questions about the stuff in their lives and what they throw away.
“I think it's important that our world has room for people to be artists,” they said. “It inspires other people, and it also breeds innovation and creates a space for a conversation that isn't happening anywhere else.”
Colin Kippen grew up in rural Vermont. After a nine-year jewelry apprenticeship, Kippen earned a master in fine arts in craft and a post-baccalaureate certificate in metals from Oregon College of Art and Craft in addition to a bachelor of arts in studio art from Carleton College. He teaches art at Portland Community College and Clark College in Vancouver, WA.
In his sculptural work, Kippen often focuses on the texture and architecture found in everyday objects. He highlights features, such as patterns of take-out containers or packaging materials, bringing attention to often overlooked details. For Kippen, art is a way to deeply engage with the world of objects around us.
“The act of opening up my attention to things around me, it’s part of that personal need to do that, to reconnect more fully with the things I do every day and use every day,” he said.
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta
Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is an interdisciplinary artist with a strong passion for the literary arts. She has been awarded several writer-in-residencies around the world. Mehta has written and published over a dozen books showcasing her poetry and fiction.
Mehta, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, will combine poetry and installation pieces focusing on residential boarding schools, white supremacist institutions that forced Native American children to assimilate to Euro-American culture. Many children in these schools endured abused. Some were killed. Mehta’s father was a survivor of a residential boarding school.
Mehta makes art because, “It's not a choice,” she said. “It's my best form of communication. It's my best form of healing.”
Malia Jensen says that she is obsessed with wastefulness in our culture and the drive to produce and consume new products. Jensen is concerned about limited resources like water. Through her art, she wants to reframe our use of water, to bring awareness to resources around us that are treated as a convenience or taken for granted.
Jensen earned a bachelor of fine arts from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She is represented by the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland and the Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York. Her work has been added to public and private collections throughout the country.
Art is the lens through which Jensen views and interacts with the world. “It's always been the armature that I used to try and make sense of the world,” she said. “And art making is of an intellectual and a physical armature for asking questions or delving into problems or situations.”
Willie Little is a multimedia artist who combines sculpture, painting, sound installations, memorabilia and found objects to speak truth as he sees it. Little grew up in the rural South, navigating the dual identities of being Black and gay. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been showing his work in group and solo exhibitions since 1989.
Little says that a common theme throughout his work is decay - in objects, people, history and society. He’s compelled to draw attention to erosion. He often uses humor and irony mixed in with rage and defiance. For GLEAN, he plans to work with toys from his youth, exploring gender roles.
“I feel like I was born to do this, and it's my reason for living,” he said. “What keeps me alive is creating, and observing things around me, and figuring out how to navigate through life, and actually tell stories through art and to entertain.”