Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art to Host Hallie Ford Fellows Exhibition, “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live”


Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the JSMA will be the first venue to display the work of the 2013 Fellows, Mike Bray (Eugene), Cynthia Lahti (Portland), and D.E. May (Salem)


EUGENE, Ore. -- (January 6, 2014) – The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon presents “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live” on view from January 18 through March 16, 2014.  Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art, “We Tell Ourselves Stories” presents a survey exhibition showcasing the work of the recipients of the first twelve Hallie Ford Fellowships in the Visual Arts, awarded 2010-2013 and debuts the 2013 Fellows, Mike Bray, Eugene; Cynthia Lahti, Portland; and D.E. May, Salem. The public is invited to a reception on Friday, January 24, 6-8 p.m., celebrating the exhibition and the artists.


The Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts honors the late Hallie Ford, co-founder of The Ford Family Foundation, Roseburg, Oregon, who was a life-long supporter of the visual arts and believed that all people should have the opportunity to explore and realize their talents. Each Hallie Ford Fellow is awarded $25,000 in unrestricted funds to pursue their creative passion and, thereby, enrich and enliven the cultural life of Oregon.


The exhibition recognizes the recipients of the Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts since the award’s inception four years ago: 2010 Fellows Daniel Duford, David Eckard, and Heidi Schwegler; 2011 Fellows Sang-ah Choi, Bruce Conkle, and Stephen Hayes; 2012 Fellows Ellen Lesperance, Akihiko Miyoshi, and Michelle Ross, and the 2013 Fellows , Mike Bray, Cynthia Lahti, and D.E. May.


On Saturday, January 18, at 2 p.m., Mike Bray, Cynthia Lahti, and D.E. May, the 2013 Hallie Ford Fellows in the Visual Arts, discuss their work in the exhibition at a free guided tour and gallery discussion.  On Saturday, March 8, at 2 p.m., exhibition curator Cassandra Coblentz; Kandis Brewer Nunn, consultant, The Ford Family Foundation; and Namita Gupta Wiggers, director, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland participate in a panel duiscussion on supporting and curating Oregon’s art, moderated by Danielle Knapp, JSMA McCosh Associate Curator.


Mike Bray is an artist working in installation, sculpture, photography, and video, whose most recent work addresses the concepts of spectacle and self as they are articulated by cinematic space. Bray received his BA in English from the University of Illinois in 1997 and completed his MFA in 2008 at the University of Oregon, where he currently teaches. Cynthia Lahti is a full-time artist recognized for her sculptural work, which combines ceramic, drawing, painting, and found objects. Lahti received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and pursued post-graduate work at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Lahti has exhibited in solo and group shows worldwide. D.E. May studied with Larry Stobie at Oregon College of Education in the ‘70s, and he went on to own several galleries in Salem. Since transitioning to the status of a full-time artist, May has participated in solo and group exhibitions nationwide, and his work is represented in public collections, including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Boise Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, and Seattle Art Museum.


Curated by independent curator Cassandra Coblentz and focused on these twelve mid-career visual artists who demonstrate a depth of practice and potential for significant future accomplishment, “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live” provides a glimpse into the work of distinguished Oregon-based artists who have and continue to make remarkable contributions to the region’s cultural landscape. The exhibition contains both past and new work by the Fellows as a means to demonstrate both the range of their talent and the progress they have made as they pursue their art as both a career and a personal passion.


Taking its title from a passage of writing in Joan Didion’s 1979 essay “The White Album,” guest curator Coblentz employs Didion’s text as an evocative lens through which to view the diverse body of artwork produced by the nine exhibiting artists. Coblentz explains that the, “range of media included in this exhibition demonstrates the vitality of the art scene I discovered in this community. From video and digital photography, to oil painting, drawing, and sculpture, to ceramics and knitting, these artists all value craftsmanship and the hand of the artist. They regard their individual choice of media as the most effective way to express the crux of their ideas and they take great responsibility for excelling at their craft. This shift away from outmoded hierarchies of artistic media tells us something about the times we are living in. We are a dynamic culture that values the handcrafted alongside the digital as equally vital and necessary. Through this lens, we are in fact able to notice and learn more about this often times perplexing world in which we live.”


“We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live” is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon.  The exhibition is made possible by major funding from The Ford Family Foundation, along with the Western States Arts Federation National Endowment for the Arts, and the Oregon Arts Commission.

About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest museum for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, America, Europe and elsewhere as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in the state of Oregon—and the only university museum--accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

About the Ford Family Foundation
The Ford Family Foundation was established in 1957 by Kenneth W. and Hallie E. Ford. Its Mission is promoting “successful citizens and vital rural communities” in Oregon and in Siskiyou County, California. The Foundation is located in Roseburg, Oregon, with a scholarship office in Eugene. The Foundation’s seven-prong Visual Arts Program, launched in 2010, provides resources to support artists Fellowships; artists residencies in Oregon and out-of-state; exhibitions and documentation of Oregon visual artists’ work; small capital projects to Oregon visual arts institutions to enhance exhibition, studio and collection storage space; individual grants to fund unanticipated opportunities to pursue or showcase artists’ work; and ongoing critic/curator tours to provide feedback to Oregon artists and participate in community dialogue. For more information about the Foundation please visit

About the Museum of Contemporary Craft
Committed to the advancement of craft since 1937, Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art is one of Oregon’s oldest cultural institutions. Centrally located in Portland’s Pearl District, the Museum is nationally acclaimed for its curatorial program and is a vibrant center for investigation and dialogue, expanding the definition of craft and the way audiences experience it. For more information about the Museum please visit

About Pacific Northwest College of Art
As Oregon’s flagship college of art and design since 1909, Pacific Northwest College of Art has helped shape Oregon’s visual arts landscape for more than a century. PNCA students study with award-winning faculty in small classes. In the last seven years, PNCA has doubled both the student body and full-time faculty, quadrupled its endowment, and added innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. PNCA is now embarking on its boldest venture yet by establishing the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design as an anchor for the College’s vision of a new campus home on Portland’s North Park Blocks. Focusing on the transformative power of creativity, the capital campaign, Creativity Works Here, was launched in June 2012 with a lead gift from The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation of $5 million. PNCA’s new home will be a bustling hub for creativity and entrepreneurship, reflecting the influential role of art and design in our 21st century economy – both in Portland and beyond. For more information, visit

Contact: Debbie Williamson Smith, JSMA Communications Manager, 541-346-0942,


Links: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,

Ford Family Foundation,