NACF National Artist Fellow RYAN! Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, from the Okanogan and Arrow Lakes Bands) was selected to create a permanent art installation at the Portland International Airport (PDX) in Portland, Oregon. The Port of Portland announced their selection in July. Congratulations, RYAN!
Feddersen is a mixed-media artist specializing in interactive and immersive art that invites audiences to engage both intellectually and creatively. She has built an arts practice that reflects a combination of influences, including pop culture, contemporary art, and traditional cultural histories.
We talked to Feddersen to learn more about her installation project, Inhabitance, and this opportunity to work with the Port of Portland. She expressed her gratitude and excitement for the project, telling us that she has long had an interest in public art because of the impact art can have on a community.
While most art is limited to an audience who has access to museums and galleries, public art creates a sense of ownership and belonging within communities. Feddersen believes that public art starts conversations and provides opportunities to explore ideas about our society and culture, creating a more prolonged relationship with people. Inhabitance will be her most significant art project to date. She plans to produce a series of interconnected artworks, including large-scale lenticular panels, to celebrate the region’s history, natural beauty, and diversity, addressing themes of environmentalism and conservation. Each panel will represent a regional habitat and pair with wood geometric tiles that conjure the textures and patterns specific to each area. The landscape panels are overlooked by a glass cloud walk.
The concept behind Inhabitance is firmly rooted in the connection we have to the land and the opportunities we have to experience the diverse biomes in the Pacific Northwest. Feddersen says that when she was thinking about travel and tourism and the way that people will move through the installation, she wanted them to see and experience the land in her art as a living entity. As travelers move through the installation, the land will also see and experience the viewer, returning their gaze through a series of optical illusions that reveal graphic eyes inverted into the landscape. A reminder that we have a connection and responsibility to the land, and that it holds witness to our actions and inactions.
Inhabitance will become a permanent fixture at the airport’s Concourse B for commuter flights in 2021, welcoming both new and repeat travelers. Feddersen hopes to create opportunities for frequent travelers to experience something new each time they walk through the corridor with a myriad of surprises that highlight the variety and connectivity of life in the Pacific Northwest. She said they might not notice every element of the installation in one visit. Yet, maybe after multiple trips, they will see the art looking back at them when they walk past a particular portrait or notice that images in a proposed “cloud walk” gently appear to move mimicking the outdoor sky.
For more information about RYAN! Feddersen visit her website, ryanfeddersen.com.
We’re all a part of living culture that is always shifting. There are things that are important to hold on to, but culture is not frozen. We need to both take care of and responsibility for our legacies, but we also need to look to our present experiences and futures.
The Port of Portland’s Art Program has a mission to provide a portal into the dynamic cultural life of our region, enrich the travel experience at PDX and offer equitable access to art opportunities. The Port partnered with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) to oversee the selection process. RACC led the Port’s Art Selection Committee – comprising 17 artists, curators and Port of Portland staff – which sought art that was inspired by the land and celebrated the contributions of regional Indigenous Peoples and culture.
Feddersen will participate in a virtual Design Week Portland event on August 4, which focuses on the local places, people and passions inspiring what’s next at the airport.
I would like to thank my family and relations for being so supportive and encouraging of my artistic practice. I am also appreciative of the NACF. I was very honored to have received a fellowship from NACF. It was such a wonderful validation to be recognized alongside such talented and inspiring people. NACF encouraged me to continue to reach toward opportunities that are higher than what I have achieved before.”