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by: PHOTO COURTESY: MAIN STREET OC - Tiffany Carbonneau is an assistant professor in sculpture, extended media and digital art at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky.Oregon City’s downtown Municipal Elevator, a unique mid-century modern structure, will be the focus of attention during the next seven months.


Through a placemaking project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Tiffany Carbonneau, an assistant professor in sculpture, extended media and digital art at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., was hired to create a projected-light art exhibit using the elevator’s unique shape as a backdrop.

During the past four months, a coalition of placemaking partners, including the nonprofit Main Street Oregon City, the city of Oregon City, the Clackamas County Arts Alliance, Metro and Portland State University have been working to recruit an artist skilled in projected light as an artistic medium in order to illuminate a regional icon. This project was one of only 80 in the country funded in 2012 with an NEA Our Town grant.

From an international call to artists, more than 40 submissions were reviewed. That list was narrowed to a field of 12 and, ultimately, a short list of three potential artists. Through a series of interviews, led by Cheryl Snow and Elizabeth Klein of the Clackamas County Arts Alliance, one artist shone brightly as the perfect partner for this project.

“Tiffany Carbonneau brings her experience using projected light as art, a deep commitment to community engagement, and an understanding of communities similar to Oregon City to this project,” Snow said.

Carbonneau has exhibited work similar to what she will be doing in Oregon City internationally at venues in Cape Town, South Africa; Lodz, Poland; Toronto, Canada; Kecskemet, Hungary; and nationally in New York City, Miami, Santa Fe, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Tracy, Calif. Carbonneau’s most recent public commission, New Albany Now, will be on display for two years beginning in June for the New Albany Public Art Project, in New Albany, Ind.

“Tiffany brings the right perspective and skill set to an innovative project that blends public art and public engagement in order to build community identity,” said Lloyd Purdy, director of Main Street Oregon City and project manager for Illuminate Oregon City. “There’s nothing typical about this project. Every step of this process is new territory.”

According to Carbonneau’s artist statement, her work “explores the impact of our surroundings by presenting familiar structures in an unfamiliar setting and allows the viewer to experience subtle architectural influences in a significant way.” Her video installations “ask the viewer to take note of structures that surround them, both symbolic and real, and to observe the way in which these structures connect them to the personal and global networks in their lives and to the environmental elements around them.”

Carbonneau will visit Oregon City in June to begin gathering public input for this project. She will be at various locations downtown seeking input on Thursday, June 6, and Saturday, June 8.

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