Erin Boberg ’94
Pushing the Limits of Artistic Expression
Erin Boberg has worked with an Italian puppet opera company, a Brazilian dance company, a master sitar player, and a host of other avant-garde performance artists. As assistant curator of performing arts at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), she works diligently to encourage and embrace the new and untried.
“I’m interested in the moment of creation,” says Boberg, whose focus on the here and now sometimes means embracing what some might call risky art. While she recognizes the importance of replicating existing works in theatre, music, and dance, she is more interested in supporting the creation and production of new works by living artists.
“We don’t know which artists of our time will have a place in history, but looking back, aren’t you glad someone supported Shakespeare and Chekhov?” asks Boberg.
Boberg, who earned a B.A. in theatre with honors in 1994, credits Lewis & Clark with fostering her ability to probe, reflect, and discover. During her college career, she also had the opportunity to work with several influential performance artists, including Kristy Edmunds, now PICA’s artistic director.
“At the time, Kristy was heading the Art on the Edge program through the Portland Art Museum,” remembers Boberg. “I asked her if I could get an internship with her, and she made it happen.”
In 1996, Edmunds left the museum and started PICA. Boberg started volunteering at the young nonprofit, and after about a year, she was hired full time.
Today, Boberg manages the performance program at PICA. She’s particularly excited about PICA’s recent move to a festival format. After eight years of presenting a yearlong series of performances funded by subscriptions, PICA has condensed its program into a once-a-year festival.
The critically acclaimed event, titled Time-Based Art (TBA), features an “out-there” collection of both notable and emerging names from the international art scene. This year’s event will be held September 10-19 (see www.pica.org for details). Other Lewis & Clark alums are also involved: Jeff Forbes ’78 is one of TBA’s lighting designers; James Moore ’97 and Emily Stone ’97 will be presenting a movement theatre performance; and Linda Austin ’76 is a choreographer for one of the dance troupes.
“If we want to be relevant and successful as a contemporary arts organization, we can’t just do the same things over and over again,” says Boberg. “We have to constantly reinvent ourselves in response to people who are changing the community and artists who are changing the world.”
—by Dee Anne Finken, with additional background from Chloë May ’05