“Between the Bottomlands & the World”
Video-Installation by Ryan Griffis and Sarah Ross
Screenings begin: 12:15pm and 2:15pm
The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts is pleased to present “Between the Bottomlands & The World” in the Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center from September 11-26. The project was developed by Ryan Griffis and Sarah Ross of Chicago, Illinois, and includes a three-act video series, photographs and narrative writing. The opening reception for “Between the Bottomlands & the World” will be Friday, September 11, 5-7pm at the VAC, with a video screening starting at 5:30pm. Ryan Griffis is schedule to make opening remarks at 5:15pm.
“Between the Bottomlands & the World” explores Beardstown, Illinois, a rural Midwestern town of 6,000 people–a place of global exchange and international mobility, inscribed by post-NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) realities. The video series tells a story of Beardstown in three acts. Act One, Submerging Land, portrays a landscape massively engineered to redirect water for the production of commodity crops. Act Two: Granular Space, is a meditation on the movement and scale of the international grain trade–from one seed to millions of bushels, moved from field, to elevator, to barge, to ocean-going vessel. Act Three: Moving Flesh, chronicles how and why so many people from around the world have come to Beardstown, a formerly all-white, Sundown town. Moving Flesh is based on the research, analysis and fieldwork of Faranak Miraftab. (See her forthcoming book: Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking.)
“Beardstown, Illinois, may be 2,000 miles away from Newport, but lessons can be learned here for any smaller town dealing with globalization and natural resources,” says OCCA VAC director Tom Webb.
“Between the Bottomlands & the World” is a project by Ryan Griffis & Sarah Ross for Regional Relationships, a group that commissions artists, scholars, writers and activists to create works that investigate the natural, industrial and cultural landscapes of a region. Regional Relationships is a platform to re-imagine spaces and cultural histories—by juxtaposing spaces and narratives that are usually kept apart. “Between the Bottomlands & the World” is supported in part by The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency and The College of Fine & Applied Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Ryan Griffis is an associate professor in new media at the School of Art & Design, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received his MFA in studio Art from East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) and his BFA in painting and drawing from the University of North Florida (Jacksonville, FL) 1996. Griffis creates work and publications that use tourism as an opportunity for critical public encounters. These encounters include public tours of urban parking lots, speculative proposals for parks and hotels and, most recently, a series of experimental guidebooks. These works have been presented in various institutional forums, including the Bureau for Open Culture (Columbus College of Art & Design), AREA Chicago, The Center for Land Use Interpretation and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. His writing has appeared in publications such as New Art Examiner, RePublic, ArtUS, Artlink, Rhizome and Furtherfield. He has curated exhibitions for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Turbulence.org, Greenmuseum.org and George Mason University on themes such as the politics of genetic technologies, energy consumption and artistic forays into agriculture.
Sarah Ross is an adjunct assistant professor, sculpture, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She received her BFA from East Carolina University and her MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Ross’ exhibition credits include the Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal, Canada; ANTI Festival, Kupio, Finland; PS122 Gallery, New York; Millennium Park, Chicago; Pinkard Gallery, Baltimore; Gallery 727, Los Angeles; META Cultural Foundation, Bucharest, Romania, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO. Her publication credits include “Territorial Imaginations,” AREA; “The Shape of a Neighbor(hood),” Contemporary Arts Review; Art Monthly; Anit FestivalI; Canadian Art Actions: What You Can Do With the City. She has received awards from the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship and the Graham Foundation.
The Upstairs Gallery is open noon to 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday. Video screening for “Between the Bottomlands & the World” will begin at 12:15pm and 2:15pm.