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PCC’s Portland Women in Art Lecture Symposium honors arts advocate

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A local legend will be heralded at the 2017 Portland Women in Art Lecture Symposium (PWALS), an annual event hosted by Portland Community College that explores feminist art topics.

Arts advocate Mardy Widman is the star attraction of this year’s event, which is sponsored by PCC and the student-driven Time Arts Club at Portland State University. PWALS will take place from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, May 26 in Room 200 of the Art Building at Portland State University (2000 SW 5th Ave.).

Mardy Widman in front of her painting titled ‘Elysian.’ Photograph by Jens Jensen.

Mardy Widman in front of her painting titled ‘Elysian.’ Photograph by Jens Jensen.

Organizers will acknowledge Widman’s impact with presentations at the beginning and end of the symposium. A reception in Room 240 will follow. Admission is free, and the public is welcome. The venue is ADA accessible.

“PCC’s Portland Women in Art Lecture Symposium presents important women in the visual arts to the students and faculty of Portland Community College, as well as to a larger Portland audience,” said organizer and PCC art history faculty Elizabeth Bilyeu. “The project focuses on pioneering feminist artists and women significant in the fields of art and art history.”

In the spirit of raising awareness of women’s roles in art, this year’s celebration recognizes Widman’s contributions as an artist, advocate and patron of the arts in support of her family of artists, students and colleagues in Portland and throughout the Northwest. The Art Adventure Gallery in Madras, Oregon represents Widman. She recently exhibited her paintings at the 12 x 16 Gallery in Portland and the Golden Gallery in Beaverton.

In individual 15-minute presentations, a panel of artists and art historians will explore traditional and non-traditional methods of art making, from sewing to photography to painting with guns.

“The panel will consider contributions of women in art and design historically and in the present day, all tied to current debates around gender rights and roles of women in society,” Bilyeu added.

Sessions and Presenters:
  • Bilyeu will present “Women and Guns in the Visual Arts,” which is inspired by art content from the classroom, conversations with student veterans, current events, and incidents on an urban college campus.
  • Kelsey Birsa, a student at Portland State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, will lecture on “The Transience of (Female) Body Consciousness.” The topic reflects her painting process and concepts explored in her current work.
  • Prudence Roberts, PCC art history instructor and director of the Rock Creek Campus Helzer Gallery, will highlight “Stitching Resistance,” which looks at political activism through textile work made by women.
  • Artists Rachel J. Siegel and Deborah Faye Lawrence will present “The Evolution of Agent Yu.” This talk will describe the collaborative stop-motion animation project built on Siegel’s D.I.Y. aesthetics, her knowledge of photography and digital processes, supported by Lawrence’s creative writing skills and her prowess with scissors. Accordionist Kyle Hanson of The Murkies will accompany the animation.
  • Sue Taylor, PSU’s associate dean of Academic Affairs in the College of the Arts, will showcase “A Diffident Amazon: Hollis Sigler Comes Out.” This session traces the exuberant art and activism of the celebrated Chicago feminist who died of breast cancer in 2001.
  • Christine Weber, PCC art history faculty and department chair at the Sylvania Campus, will highlight “Too Many Artists in the Kitchen,” which addresses the challenges women artists faced working at the Bauhaus.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »