Schnitzer museums to host social justice artists
Thousands of dollars of grants are available to artists during the time of COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter.
On July 27, Jordan Schnitzer launches his $150,000 Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Program. Each of Schnitzer's three university art museums will offer $2,500 to 20 artists to make work that responds to the time, with particular reference to the Black Lives Matter uprising of 2020.
Schnitzer said he first discussed the idea a month ago.
"Artists are always the chroniclers of our time," he said. "I believe if we go forward 20 or 30 years, and we ask historians and sociologists to talk about the 2000s and the most important shifts in this country, it will be that people of color came more into their own, decades too late."
Schnitzer said he has "been a proponent of Black Lives Matter and of all lives matter, of racial and gender equity, for decades," collecting Kara Walker before she was known, and Betye Saar, as well as other Black artists.
"We also provide more shows of artists of color than anyone else in this country, so we're not new to helping get these themes around the country to many audiences," he said.
Schnitzer added, "The video of George Floyd's death is seared in the mind, like when that colonel shot the young boy in Vietnam," referring to Brig. Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan's execution of Nguyen Van Lem.
To make a difference to the community he decided to put up $150,000 for artists "who use their voices, experiences and artistic expression to reflect on social justice efforts in response to systemic racism."
The artists must live in Oregon or Washington. They can submit a concept for something they want to make, or finished work. They can spend the money on materials or not.
"The key is not limiting their expression. We want to hear the artist's voice about this theme," he said.
The work can be anything, not just gallery art but street art, light projections and performance art.
Schnitzer is issuing the grants in partnership with his three branded university art museums at the University of Oregon, Washington State University and Portland State University. Selected works will be exhibited at the Jordan Schnitzer museums.
However, Schnitzer said the grants will not be restricted to BIPOC artists.
He told the Portland Tribune: "One person said should we limit this to artists of color. I said, no. That would almost be discriminating."
University staff will work with various other academics and BIPOC groups to choose the artists.
Applications for the grants are due by Sept. 30, and grant winners will be notified Oct. 31.
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