Twenty-four years ago, the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Berlin was torn down. To the east, the Israeli-Palestinian border shows the result of a long and convoluted conflict. Half a world away, the U.S.–Mexican border has become a place of national political discourse on immigration control.
These three dividing lines are the focus of a photography project by Professor Terri Warpinski of the UO Department of Art. In “Surface Tension,” Warpinski examines border security and draws parallels among the three areas of special contention. A grant of $1,500 from the Oregon Arts Commission plus $6,074 from The Ford Family Foundation will fund her field excursion to conclude the project. She plans to make a trip to the Middle East to conclude the photography and research for “Surface Tension.”
“I’m looking at [the project] as a reflection of human values as they are evidenced in place and how [the area] is susceptible to cultural influences, impacted by politics and religion,” said Warpinski.
The grants will support the exhibition of “Surface Tension” at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, in August 2014.
After receiving forty-one requests for grants totaling more than $58,000, the Oregon Arts Commission awarded grants to fifteen recipients, including Warpinski and two UO alumni.
The OAC provides funding to arts programs through its grants, special initiatives, and services. This year, more than $52,000 in competitive Career Opportunity grants were given to artists for development of new work for major exhibitions and to undertake career opportunities.
“It was really, extremely nice to find out that I had [been awarded the grant],” said Warpinski. “I’ve been wanting to make one more trip to the Middle East and this is going to allow me to do that.”
In 2000-01, Warpinski was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship to visit Israel. That trip inspired her new exhibition.
“It gave me access to a world I really didn’t understand at all,” she said. “I think [it] opened up my sensitivities in a way that made me view what was going on here along the U.S.–Mexican border differently.”
Laura Vandenburgh, associate professor and head of the UO art department, said the funding allows Warpinski to amplify her creative approach to “Surface Tension.” "[Terri's photography] is amazing, Vandenburgh says. "There’s been quite a transition to this documentary approach that’s quite different from the work that preceded it. It’s been a big leap in her work to a different kind of language, which allows her to explore different sorts of subjects that are more about current human experience.
“Working with color and a more documentary view, she’s also involved in more complicated approaches to how to work between images, making pieces that require the viewer to negotiate between different points of view,” Vandenburgh continued. “That seems central to the project.”
Above: A view of the installation that photography professor Terri Warpinski exhibited at the Center for Photography in Woodstock (CPW), New York, where a small selection of her work was shown in 2012.
Warpinski also has work featured in “Connection to Place: Photography and Graphics,” a show at the Art Center Gallery at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon, from November 14 to January 16. The show also features photographs by Melissa Mankins, BFA ’11. Artist presentations are from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on November 14.
UO alumni Miki’ala Souza and Cara Tomlinson also received grants from the most recent round of funding by the Oregon Arts Commission.
“To see two of our alumni also on that list was wonderful,” said Vandenburgh. “It’s indicative that the UO art department is the strongest program in the state. It’s not surprising that both our students and our faculty are operating at high levels within the professional arts community in the state.”
Souza, who graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in painting, was awarded $1,500 to support a trip to Kokiri Putahi, the seventh gathering of international indigenous visual artists in Kaikohe, New Zealand, in January 2014. The event is organized by the Ngapuhi Tribe and Toi Maori Aotearoa (Maori Arts of New Zealand).
“Things about her own identity and family history engaged her when she was here, "Vandenburgh said. "That she’s sustained that work and obviously has this international opportunity is tremendous. I was really proud to learn that about her.”
Tomlinson graduated in 1993 from UO with a master’s degree in painting. She was awarded $1,200 to support travel to and shipping of work for exhibition of her paintings and video at the Work Place Gallery, an established artist collective gallery in May 2014 in Belgium. She now works as an art professor and studio head of painting at Lewis and Clark College in Portland.
“I think she’s making tremendous contributions both as an educator and as an artist to the region,” Vandenburgh said. “We’re very proud of her.”
The Oregon Arts Commission is supported with general funds appropriated by the Oregon legislature, federal funds from the National Endowments for the Arts, and funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust.
The remaining deadlines in this cycle are December 2, 2013, and April 7, 2014. Guidelines for grant application can be found at http://www.oregonartscommission.org/grants/career-opportunity.