“Big Draw” brings out artists of all ages

Portland residents both young and old flocked to the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s (PNCA) main campus building for the Big Draw, Portland’s offering for the worldwide celebration of art by the same name.

Organizations from across the city—including Portland State University, Portland Urban Sketchers and P:EAR, a non-profit devoted to helping homeless youth—all ran tables at the event with artistic activities for attendees.

Patrick Forster, director of continuing education at PNCA, said in an interview that one of the greatest challenges in putting the event together was utilizing a democratic and collaborative design methodology.

“A truly collaborative design wants to give every invitation and every invitee a distinctive role and makes sure that in the planning, their voices are heard,” Forster said. “The space and the drawing activities really [are] organized in a fashion in which the collaborators’ talents blossom and people feel validated.”

After surveying the event through its first hour, he felt that PNCA and other visiting organizations had succeeded in their goal.

Forster collaborated with Sarah Wolf Newlands of PSU to put together a table run by her freshman inquiry (FRINQ) students.

“We are really happy to have Portland State University freshman students, who are hosting a zine factory in which they are working with attendees at the event around the prompt of ‘How do you experience the natural world?’ and turning that into a zine,” Forster said.

Newlands, an assistant professor, talked about how she and Forster came up with the idea for the zine workshop.

According to her, the prompt of “How do you interact with the natural world?” was chosen as a driving force to guide students’ work and help their zines fit in with the overarching project of the Big Draw.

“Patrick said the larger theme of this event has to do with sustainability, so what I wanted the students to create was a question that would sort of drive their project,” Newlands said.

As the professor of a FRINQ class, Newlands teaches a diverse group of students from a number of different disciplines and backgrounds.

“Students aren’t necessarily artists,” Newlands said. “People with many different interests choose work of art for a variety of reasons, but I do have a lot of artists in my class and I think a lot of them are out there. They’re doing some really nice zines.”

While the work of art freshman inquiry class is focused on art as a whole, according to Newlands, it doesn’t include any instruction on drawing.

“The drawings are so beautiful and they’re so intentional. I didn’t really expect that. I can see that these are real artists,” Newlands said.

Exene Epperson, an art practices major and student in Newlands’ class, talked in an interview about the wide range of artistic projects at the event.

“I think it’s really interesting how [much] different art is going on,” Epperson said. “It’s not like simple kiddy things; it’s a little bit of everything, so kids can try more things that they usually wouldn’t try at a kids’ art event.”

Epperson said she appreciated the zine’s theme of interaction with nature and said that the topic’s importance played a role in what made the project appeal to kids at the event.

“It’s really fun and I think it’s fun because they get to explore this theme that’s really important, that I don’t think a lot of people think about,” Epperson said.

Kinoko Evans, an alumna of PNCA, talked about the college’s interaction with the Portland community as a whole in the scope of events like the Big Draw.

“I think it’s nice to have these kinds of programs,” Evans said. “We’re a college and we have this program where we focus on art students, but we also have adult evening classes and children’s programs, and I think what’s important for any institution is to be a part of the community.

For the event, she prepared a large illustration of the 511 Federal Building (511 NW Broadway) that PNCA intends to include as part of its campus in the future. The illustration was hung up at the event and attendees were allowed to color it however they liked.

“It took me somewhere around four hours to do the drawing and I was able to add a little bit and change a little bit more, but now I just get to watch people color it and draw on it and interact with it and it’s really satisfying,” Evans said.