(GOLDENDALE, Wash., August 18, 2021) — Maryhill Museum of Art announces a second major community-based art project, The Exquisite Gorge Project II: Fiber Arts, in summer 2022. 

During the project, 13 regional fiber artists are slated to work with communities along 220 miles of the Columbia River from the Willamette Confluence in Portland to the Snake River Confluence near Walla Walla, Washington. 

Drawing inspiration from the people, the landscape and the river, artists will design an original fiber-based artwork in collaboration with the local community and a designated community partner.  The 11 finished works will connect to adjacent sections to create a large, 66-foot flowing sculpture with the Columbia River as a central element.

The Exquisite Gorge Project was inspired by the Surrealist parlor game “Exquisite Corpse,” a drawing game where participants take turns drawing sections of a body on a piece of paper folded to hide each successive contribution. In the case of the The Exquisite Gorge Project, the Columbia River is the “body” that unifies the collaboration between artists and communities. 

“The Columbia River weaves lives together in the most amazing ways,” says Louise Palermo, Curator of Education at Maryhill Museum of Art and founder of the Exquisite Gorge Project. “The Exquisite Gorge Project brings artists and communities together to explore their experiences and stories of living along the Columbia River. We are excited to have an incredibly talented group of fiber artists who will bring creativity and their unique vision to the project.”

Louise Palermo, Maryhill’s Curator of Education is the Project Director. Oregon-based artists Tammy Jo Wilson and Owen Premore will serve as Artistic Director and Technical Director respectively, working alongside artists Francisco and Laura Bautista, Lynn Deal, Ophir El-Boher, Carolyn Hazel Drake, Xander Griffith, Chloë Hight, Kristy Kún, Magda Nica, Bonnie Meltzer, and Amanda Triplett. The participating artists work in a variety of textile and fiber-based media, from weaving, basketry, and repurposed textiles to quilt making, jewelry and felt making.  

When the project gets underway in summer 2022, artists will collaborate with a Community Partner and interact with community members from their assigned stretch of the river to create unique installations, sculpture, and innovative designs attached to that specific site. They will also engage in programs meant to inspire and educate the public about fiber arts.

Maps and guides will encourage the public to visit each location and a culminating activity is planned for Saturday, August 6, 2022 at Maryhill Museum of Art, where artists and each “exquisite corpse” section will be brought together to reveal the continuous artwork.

In addition to the participating artists, there are many partner organizations and sponsors who will make the The Exquisite Gorge Project II possible. The following partners and artists will be paired on each section of the river.

Section One: Oregon Society of Artists–Artist: Lynn Deal
Section Two: Lewis and Clark University–Artist: Amanda Triplett
Section Three: Columbia Center for the Arts, The History Museum of Hood River County and Arts in Education of the Gorge–Artist: Chloë Hight
Section Four: White Salmon Arts Council and Fort Vancouver Regional Library–Artist: Xavier Griffith
Section Five: The Dalles Arts Center and The Dalles-Wasco County Library–Artists: Francisco and Laura Bautista
Section Six: The Fort Vancouver Regional Library at Goldendale Community Library–Artist: Carolyn Hazel Drake
Section Seven: The American-Romanian Cultural Society and Maryhill Museum of Art–Artist: Magda Nica
Section Eight: Desert Fiber Arts & REACH Museum–Artist: Ophir El-Boher
Section Nine: The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation–Artist: Bonnie Meltzer
Section Ten: ArtWalla–Artist: Kristy Kún

In addition to Maryhill Museum of Art, Columbia Fiber Arts Guild is a sponsor of the event. Anyone interested in supporting the project should contact Colleen Schafroth 509 773-3733 x 23 or email development@maryhillmuseum.org.

Envisioned by the Curator of Education, Lou Palermo, Maryhill Museum of Art presented the first Exquisite Gorge Project during the summer of 2019, bringing together 11 printmakers to work in communities along the Columbia River. The culminating event was held at Maryhill, where artists and community gathered to watch as a 66-foot woodblock print was created using a steamroller.

The Exquisite Gorge Project was inspired by the Surrealist parlor game “Exquisite Corpse,” which began as a drawing game where participants each drew sections of a body on a piece of paper, which was then folded to hide each successive contribution. When unfolded, the whole body was revealed, showing each contribution. 

In the case of The Exquisite Gorge Project, the Columbia River is the “body” that unifies the collaboration between artists and communities. The end product is a flowing 66-foot artwork that tells conceptual stories of the Columbia River and its people. 

For more information about The Exquisite Gorge Project II and participating artists, visit https://www.maryhillmuseum.org/exquisite-gorge-project-2022.

Image above: Detail from the series “Amplified” by artist Kristy Kun