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North View Gallery reopens with Charged Voids

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Green, turquoise and pink scaffolding with the words "Charged Voids".Exhibition Dates: August 22 to October 28, 2022

Opening Reception:  Saturday, September 10, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Related Programming:

  • Artist Talk: Thursday, October 13, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  • Gridy: Prints on Paper – Intervention by artist Noah Matteucci: October 1 – 14
  • Reframing Brutalism: Panel conversation with Grace Kook-Anderson, Brian Libby, and  Julianne Sandlin: Saturday, October 22, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Closing Reception and performative sound installation by Jesse Mejía: Thursday, October 27, 6:00 pm

The North View Gallery at Portland Community College is pleased to reopen after two years, with a new site-specific installation by the artist Avantika Bawa.

In Charged Voids, Avantika Bawa exposes the intersections between exterior and interior, functional and aesthetic, within the context of the PCC Sylvania campus. Throughout August, Bawa was in residence at the North View Gallery, installing a new iteration of her Scaffold Series. The gallery occupies one of the original 1968 Brutalist buildings at Sylvania, furthering the exploration Bawa began with A Brutal Affair, a series of drawings and prints inspired by the monumental rawness of Brutalist structures around the world, including in her hometown New Delhi.

Brutalism’s simplified, modular shapes and rough concrete form the core of the Sylvania campus. Concrete walkways surround and connect the original Sylvania buildings exemplifying pedestrian and communal spaces described as “charged voids” by UK architects Alison and Peter Smithson. In fact, the North View Gallery is bordered by one of these concrete walkways that Avantika has activated with scaffolding, dematerializing the gallery walls and allowing viewers to enter and view the gallery from new vantage points.

The North View Gallery was void or empty during the first two years of the pandemic and Bawa’s installation has charged the gallery again, infusing it with life and encouraging us to return and in that return, to see the familiar transformed. Bawa’s scaffolding echoes patterns already present in the gallery and it introduces new rhythms, shadows and vibrant colors that radiate on the white walls. Bawa also invites viewers to charge the gallery with their presence, by climbing the scaffolding or using it for percussive purposes as Left Edge Percussion did during a recent installation organized by the Schneider Museum of Art.

With her Scaffold Series, Bawa uses the staging and support structure, integral to the process of construction, as a framing device to expose what has already been built. In The Charged Void, the Smithsons wrote about their attempt ‘to drag a rough poetry out of the confused and powerful forces which are at work in a mass production society’. This attempt resonates with the everyday poetry that Bawa exposes in the functional form of the scaffold, a form that allows humans to reach new heights, that makes back-breaking labor possible, and that can frame and reframe spaces. What kind of poetry is created when these functional objects occupy the charged voids of Brutalism? How do they help us see the college campus and the gallery with new eyes?

Sponsored in part by Washington State University Vancouver’s Mini Grant program.

Pink scaffolding outside near the gallery window.

Avantika Bawa, Charged Voids, scaffolding of varying colors and dimensions, site-specific installation in the North View Gallery, PCC Sylvania, 2022 (Photo: Christine Weber)

About the Artist

Avantika Bawa is an artist, curator, and educator based in Portland, OR, who often resides in her hometown, New Delhi, India. Bawa has an MFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in the same from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India.

She has participated in the Skowhegan, MacDowell, Kochi Biennial Foundation, and Djerassi residencies among others. Noteworthy solo exhibits include shows at: The Portland Art Museum, Schneider Museum, Ashland, OR: Suyama Space, Seattle, WA, The Columbus Museum, GA, Saltworks Gallery, and the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, Atlanta, GA: Nature Morte, and Gallery Maskara, India: White Box, Tilt Gallery & Project Space, and Disjecta, Portland, OR.

In April 2004 she was part of a team that launched Drain – Journal for Contemporary Art and Culture. drainmag.com. In 2014 Avantika was appointed to the board of the Oregon Arts Commission. She is currently Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Washington State University, Vancouver, WA.

Gallery Address: 12000 SW 49th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97219

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM, Saturday 11 AM to 4 PM

Directions:  Follow signs to bookstore and visitor parking.  Gallery is located in the Communications and Technology (CT) building, adjacent to the bookstore, on the NE corner of the Sylvania campus.

Green, teal and pink scaffolding in a gallery.

Avantika Bawa, Charged Voids, scaffolding of varying colors and dimensions, site-specific installation in the North View Gallery, PCC Sylvania, 2022 (Photo: Myra Day)