If you’re new to Portland State and interested in the campus art scene, you may be wondering what’s going on – whose work is on display, and how does one’s "art" merit a place in these white-walled rooms? In the case of adjunct professor Rachel Hibbard and her current exhibition in the Autzen Gallery, she was simply in the right place at the right time.
The Autzen Gallery, located on the second floor of Neuberger Hall, is typically home to the works of MFA (master of fine arts) students during the school year. But during the final weeks of summer the gallery usually sits silent because most classes are over and no one’s around.
Earlier this year, Hibbard took advantage of that empty gallery space. With the approval of the art department, she converted the space into a somewhat private (if you don’t mind people watching you work through the large north-facing windows) workspace for a two-month stretch. This is her second time utilizing the space and she’s not the first instructor to do so. Other faculty members have used the space in the past during the summer for similar projects.
On display is the last piece in a lengthy 12-part series of reworked images, re-envisioning the traditional 12-month calendar. Set into grid forms of varying height and width, Hibbard’s work conveys a sense of the giganticness of the world around us through the use of old magazine images.
Referring to the piles of pictures on the floor, Hibbard said they are all thematic pieces, each relating back to the whole by way of visual refrains. She was really interested in the idea of climate change as a key aspect to this final piece, which marks the end of her calendar project.
Hibbard graduated as a print-making major and works primarily in paint, but she is confined to neither, holding the belief that "the artist needs to execute an idea with the media that makes the most sense." And in this case, it involved the images that she grew up with, the images that gave her a sense of the world on a bigger scale.
Much of the imagery came from old Time-Life books, and probably a few National Geographics, which she purchased at used bookstores and the infamous Goodwill bins, a place Hibbard describes with a smile as a "free-for-all." (For the uninitiated, the bins, located in Southeast Portland on Ochoco Street, are a must-see for the student on a budget as well as a great venue for people-watching.)
I don’t want to bore you with a too-detailed description, but having had a chance to sneak a peak at the 12th piece in production, let me say that it involves a giant male planetoid pleasuring several smaller planetoids – OK, not really, but you will see a giant planetoidal (great word for all you Scrabble players out there) object made up of several smaller reworked pictures in a grid pattern, along with a sprinkling of smaller images on top. Another way to imagine it is this: remember the trading cards you used to collect when you were little? And if you had all the right ones you could flip them over to assemble a large picture of, say, a Destructobot-o-saurus wreaking havoc in a small peasant village? Well, it’s kind of like that, but a lot more thoughtful.
Hibbard unveiled this final work in the Autzen Gallery Sept. 25. The show continues until Oct. 6, so between the mountains of homework and all those lines you’ll have to stand in during the first week of school, you only have two short weeks to check this thing out. On Oct. 16, the Autzen will then go into set-up mode for its next show, Word & Hand, an ongoing collaboration betwixt English and art students where participants swap provocative arts and letters for mutual enjoyment – or so we’ve been led to believe.