Exhibition - Water:NFS by Natalie Ball with Collaborator Annelia Hillman Pue‑Leek‑La

Saturday, Jan 1, 2022 at 12:00 p.m.

Oregon Contemporary
8371 North Interstate Avenue,
Portland, OR 97217

Free and open to the public

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WATER: NFS is the first exhibition in our new large-scale program Site, replacing our 2021 Biennial for pandemic safety. Site was created to utilize Oregon Contemporary’s strength as a large-scale venue in order to provide a new way of supporting Oregon artists at this time, giving them an opportunity for a solo exhibition and the ability to make new work as they expand and grow their creative practices.

For the Site exhibition at Oregon Contemporary, Natalie Ball will collaborate with artist Annelia Hillman pue-leek-la' (Yurok) to bring you into their worlds of resistance. They will create a space that challenges viewers and highlights Oregon - California’s water wars, drought, and land rights that affect and connect the two as Matriarchs, artists, and Mothers.

The two artists are connected by the water source that runs starting at the Head of the Wood River in Ball’s Territory to the Mouth of the Klamath River, Hillman’s Tribal Territory. Their Tribal communities in Oregon and California are affected by severe drought and resulting water issues including toxic algae, a dying Klamath Lake, and dam removal resulting in traditional food extinction. 98% of the juvenile Salmon died this year from parasites caused by poor water quality directly caused by the dams. For over 100 years, Klamath Tribes no longer have Salmon in their waters because the dams block their ancient return home.

Natalie Ball will also use the gallery space to show the development of an accompanying Klamath Land Back Tours PSA (www.klamathlandback.com) with invited performers and speakers over the course of the show. The exhibition will combine activism, artmaking, video production, and in-person performances in one location.

I believe historical discourses of Native Americans have constructed a limited and inconsistent visual archive that currently misrepresents our past experiences and misinforms current expectations. I excavate hidden histories and dominant narratives to deconstruct them through a theoretical framework of auto-ethnography. This moves “Indian” outside of governing discourses in order to build a visual genealogy that refuses to line-up with the many constructed existences of Native Americans. The goal is for art to lend itself as new texts, with new histories and new manifestations, to add to the discussion of complex racial narratives that are critical to further realizing the self, the nation, and necessarily, our shared experiences and histories.
Natalie Ball

WATER:NFS is generously supported by The Ford Family Foundation. Oregon Contemporary Art Center  is also supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Robert & Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, VIA Art Fund and Wagner Foundation, the Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Other businesses and individuals provide additional support.
About the artists

Natalie Ball is an Indigenous woman who is Black and Native from the Modoc and Klamath Tribes. She communicates her experiences within a larger history of intersectionality through materiality and gesture. Ball is interested in expanding what Native American identity and art are, and what they can be. Her work always goes back to her ancestors, communities, family, history, and experiences. Currently, she is creating textiles and sculptures as Power Objects, offering objects as proposals of refusal to complicate an easily affirmed and consumed narrative and identity, without absolutes. In 2020-21 Ball was awarded the Bonnie Bronson Fellowship, the Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts, the Joan Mitchell annual Painters & Sculptors Grant, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation’s Oregon Native Arts Fellowship, and the NIA TERO Foundation’s PNW Art Fellowship.

Annelia Hillman pue leek la’ (Yurok) is an indigenous woman from the lower Klamath River. She is a mother, an activist, and a natural leader in her community. Although her work has mostly played an important role as the visual voice for Klamath River justice campaigns and community wellness, her individual voice has been shared periodically in local collaborative shows. Annelia was a contributor for MANIFEST: JUSTICE, a large-scale, social justice-themed art pop-up exhibition and event series in 2015, and a collaborative cultural art exchange in Madiera with the direction of RIGO 23, in 2004. She studied art at Lane Community College and received a BFA from the University of Oregon. Annelia’s work intertwines traditional techniques and motifs with contemporary materials to explore the intersections between past indigenous experience and contemplations of future reality for the generations to come. Her work mostly speaks to issues concerning identity, displacement, and the complexities of colonization.

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