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Sculpture Professor Chosen as Hallie Ford Fellow

July 11, 2019

by Hanna Merzbach BA ’20

Credit: Photo by Blake Ashby, courtesy of The Pioneer Log

Associate Professor of Art and Studio Head of Sculpture Jess Perlitz was selected as one of just five Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts this year. Fellows are Oregon artists at pivotal point in their careers with high potential for success in the art world, and are each awarded $25,000. These fellowships honor the late Hallie Ford, a supporter of the arts and cofounder of The Ford Family Foundation, a nonprofit foundation in Roseburg, Oregon. 

Perlitz’s work was displayed alongside the other fellows’ in an exhibit at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) earlier this month. Her work traverses many forms, including sculptures, performances, community-based projects, and drawings. Perlitz often makes interactive work and focuses on how people make meaning. Her recent work considers landscape and the ways in which people seek to define and recognize themselves within it. 

“I make sculptures to contemplate how we define and locate ourselves in the world around us,” Perlitz said. “I am attentive to how we understand scale through our bodies, how we connect with each other, and the symbolic ways we create identity, seek relief, or communicate power and place.”

Earlier this year, Perlitz was one of 32 artists invited to participate in the Invitational Exhibition at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, recognized as “America’s most prestigious honorary society of architects, artists, composers, and writers.” The academy further recognized two of Perlitz’s pieces with a Purchase Award, which places the work of both established and emerging artists in museum collections around the country.

These kinds of awards help offset the pressures of the gallery system and the art collector marketplace. 

“This support is what allows work to actually be creative research,” Perlitz said. “The more deeply engaged I am in my work, the better I am as a teacher and the more alive I am in the studio with students, thinking about what it means to be making work in this world and how each of us wants to contribute.”

Since moving to Oregon, Perlitz has received project and research grants from Lewis & Clark and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), along with the Individual Artist Fellowship and the 2018 Joan Shipley Award, both from the Oregon Arts Commission. 

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