Brian Gillis Talks to UO Today About Art Research

February 5, 2020

portrait of Brian GillisProfessor of Art Brian Gillis at the 2019 CFAR launch

Paul Peppis, director of the Oregon Humanities Center, recently interviewed Professor of Art Brian Gillis for UO Today.

“I came to art by way of graffiti,” said Gillis, who is also the director of the Center for Art Research (CFAR) and the ceramics coordinator for the School of Art + Design. Growing up in Los Angeles in the ’80 and ’90s, he said there was no art at school.

Because of his exposure to graffiti, Gillis would go on to study graphic design, and eventually ceramics and sculpture.

Sculpture in a gallerySculpture by Gillis at the 510 Oak building

Here are some of the highlights from the UO Today episode:

On the artists that CFAR hosts: “It becomes more and more clear that we are not interested in performing knowledge. We don’t want to invite people here for just the benefit of an audience. We want the way that they engage us to benefit their work.”

On CFAR’s theme for the coming academic year: “Our theme next year is going to be based on power, based on trying to understand what power is, has been, and could be—ways that it manifests in the world. We’re initiating something that we call papers on power. This is a series of commissioned papers that are going to start to be published through our website.”

On teaching industrial ceramics: “None of us knew how to make objects with any sort of industrial precision. For the last 25 years I’ve been pursuing trying to understand this. It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost like the loss of language in some ways.” 

“A lot of what I did is go to Chinese factories where they would let people see how they do things and try to talk to old-timers who might have been educated in the ’30s and ’40s, and then really just try to make things up myself.”

“There is my generation of educators from the ’90s who have started to do this and resuscitate industrial production related to ceramics.”

Watch the full interview below.